Do You Check Oil With Car Running? This Is The Truth

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Your car’s engine needs motor oil to function. You have to check your motor oil regularly as a key part of keeping your car’s engine performing well. 

So, it’s important to check car oil before turning the engine on. If you forget to check it before driving to your destination, make plans to do so. 

Now, this leaves us with a big question. 

Do You Check Oil With Car Running? 

The right thing to do is check the oil level either before you turn on the engine or 5 to 10 minutes after shutting it down to have enough oil in the oil pan for an accurate measurement.

Check your motor oil at least once every month to know if it has enough oil and the oil is not contaminated. This guide will teach when and how to check your car oil and every other thing you need to know.

Should I Check My Car Oil Level Hot Or Cold?

Check your car engine oil when it is warm or cold. Ensure your engine has not been running for at least 5 to 10 minutes because it takes quite some time before the engine oil pours down from the Cylinder head if the engine has been running.

You should also measure the oil level of your car engine when it is cold. The oil of your motor engine can reach 250 Fahrenheit or 120 degrees Celcius.

Measuring the vehicle’s oil immediately after driving it and filling it to the max sign will make it go over the max sign when the car engine has cooled down. Doing this will cause it to pour down into the engine oil pan.

The best thing to do is drive your car warm, leave it to stand for 15 minutes, and check the oil. The engine oil temperature will not play a vital part in measuring the oil level, but a small expansion may happen when the car engine is warm or cold.

How Do I Check My Vehicle Oil?

Every driver or car owner should know how to check the oil in their car because it is part of routine maintenance that keeps the vehicle in good shape. Knowing your oil levels ad quality will help you avoid issues that would cost you a lot to repair. 

You would only need to spend a few moments of your day checking your car’s oil level and quality. There a few easy steps to take when checking the oil of your vehicle;

Park your motor car on level ground before you get to work. Make sure your car engine is cold or slightly warmed up. You shouldn’t reach around a car engine that has running for some time.

Now, pop your car’s hood and find the engine oil dipstick. You can find this easily, and it has a round loop at the end that allows you to put your finger into it.

When you have located the dipstick, pull it out of the engine and use a clean rag or paper towel to wipe off any oil, then put it back into the tube and push it back in. 

Now, pull the dipstick out of your car engine again and check both sides to the oil level. You will see some indicator marks on the dipstick. The mark will let you know the minimum and maximum levels of oil the reservoir should hold.

Note that the minimum and maximum levels can vary from one vehicle to another. However, in general, dipsticks will have either the words max and min on them to indicated the maximum and minimum levels.

It will also have L and H letters, which indicate low and high levels or two small pinholes. Some dipsticks may have a sort of crosshatch pattern on them. The pattern indicated the range where the engine oil should be. 

However, your engine oil level should be in the crosshatch pattern or between those two marks. Everything is fine with your vehicle if the oil is where it should be. You don’t have to worry about anything.

How Do I Know When My Car Oil Needs Changing?

If you want to handle things yourself, you may want to check if it is time to change your car’s engine oil. These tips will explain how to know when it’s time to change your oil.

1. Check Engine or Oil Change Light

The oil change light alerts you when there’s an issue with your car oil. The light in your vehicle will illuminate when your car does not have enough oil, so always check it to see if your car oil needs to be changed.

When the case becomes urgent, the check engine light of your car will illuminate. The light is warning you that your car needs urgent attention as your engine is at risk of severe damage due to a lack of lubrication or problem parts.

2. Engine knocks and makes noise 

The engine oil provides a protective layer between your car engine parts, preventing metal-to-metal brushing and preventing the engine from making noise. The noise of your car engine will increase if the oil is not doing its job.

In worse cases, your engine will be making rumbling or knocking sounds. The sounds signify that your car engine is gradually tearing itself apart due to a lack of lubrication.

3. Oil is dark and dirty

Clean engine oil is amber in color and somewhat translucent. The oil is filled with particles as the car uses it. The particles are collected from the car engine. You have to check your car engine oil once or twice a month.

Checking your car engine every month will allow you to know if it is dirty or not. If the oil is dirty, then it needs to be changed.

4. Oil smell in your vehicle

If your car smells of oil, this means there is an oil leak. The smell of exhaust fumes or gas in the car signifies that your car may be overheating. If any of these happens, then your car needs to be checked. 

5. Exhaust Smoke

If the translucent vapor is coming out of your car’s tailpipe changes to smoke, your car engine needs a check-up. Your car engine may be faulty, or there is an oil leak.

How Do You Know If Your Car Engine Has Too Much Oil?

If you want to check if your car engine has too much oil, the fastest way to check is to remove the dipstick and look at it.

The dipstick is found in every type of car except the exotic high-end ones. The dipstick typically has a bright yellow pull handle. It also features low and high marks to indicate if your car has too little, too much, or an adequate amount.

You should check your car’s oil level frequently. You can check your car’s owner manual for guidance on how to check the dipstick.

Your car has other indicators that will let you know that it has an overfill problem, including a burning smell, a blue exhaust smoke, a high reading on the oil pressure gauge, or an oil leak.

If your car’s engine is running rough or its check engine light illuminates, it may indicate that there is excess oil contacting the car’s spark plugs.

What Causes Excess Oil?

When asking why your car engine has excess oil, the blatant answer to your question is either your mechanic or even you overfilled your engine’s crankcase when topping up with oil.

Additionally, failure to drain the old engine oil properly during an oil change or adding excess oil to the new oil filter may also cause excess oil. If this is not the cause of the problem, check if the extra “oil” isn’t a combination of fluids. 

Fuel can flow through a faulty seal, condensation can build up, and a failing head gasket can cause a leaking coolant. If any of these happens, your car engine will have excess oil, leading to severe damage.

How Do I Remove Excess Oil My Car Engine?

The best thing to do is to perform a fresh oil change. You can get an expert to do it for you or decide to do it yourself. If you are doing the task yourself, follow these steps;

l Take out the oil drain plug below the oil pan and drain the engine oil. 

l Put a new oil filter refill the pan with the proper amount of engine oil specified in the manual. 

Note that if your car engine has been running before the oil change, the old oil is likely hot, and it should be handle properly to avoid getting burnt by hot oil. 

If you want an expert to do the task for you, you should consider towing your car to the workshop to avoid potential engine damage resulting from driving the car down to the workshop.


As stated above, your vehicle’s engine oil is important for its optimum performance, so like every other part of the engine, you should pay attention to it. You can take it to an expert every month for a routine check, or you can decide to do it yourself.

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