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How to Check Engine Oil Levels

Oil plays a critical role in your vehicle. It’s important that you know how to check oil levels in your engine, to make sure your vehicle keeps running smoothly. Your engine has so many moving parts and stress points that need to be protected while your vehicle is in operation. When your engine is running, and your car is moving, friction is created that can cause serious damage to your motor if you’re not careful. Honda engine oil is used to lubricate these pressure points and protect the parts in your engine.

Keeping your oil levels topped is essential for not only keeping your engine running, but prevent long term damage to key parts. Always top up your oil with the same oil you were using before, whether that’s Mobil engine oil, official Honda engine oil or Castrol oil.

When should you check the engine oil level?

In terms of frequency, Honda recommends checking your engine oil level each time the vehicle is refuelled. This is recommended in your owner’s handbook, which you will find with your vehicle.

The perfect time to actually check your engine oil levels is when your engine is cool enough for you to do so and when the oil is actually in the oil pan. So either:

  • Before turning the engine on
  • 5-10 minutes after turning your engine off

How to check the oil level in a petrol engine

The normal way to check oil levels in a petrol engine is easy as:

  1. Park the vehicle on level ground, switch off the engine and wait for at least 5 minutes.
  2. Ensure that the engine has reached normal operating temperature.
  3. Before checking the oil dipstick, withdraw it and wipe clean. Insert the dipstick fully. This step helps avoid an inaccurate read.
  4. Withdraw the oil dipstick and hold horizontally while reading, to ensure that oil does not run up or down the dipstick.
  5. The oil level should be between the maximum and minimum marks on the dipstick.

If the oil level is below the recommended level, add more oil of the same type and brand to bring the oil level up to a maximum of 1 litre. It is very important to adhere to the maximum levels as engine oil overfilling can result in serious engine damage.

How to check engine oil levels in a diesel engine

When checking the oil level on a diesel vehicle such as the Honda AccordHonda CR-V or Honda Civic, there’s a slightly different procedure. Failure to use this procedure can result in an oil level reading that is not correct.

To check engine oil levels in a diesel vehicle you must:

  1. Make sure the vehicle is parked on level ground.
  2. Make sure the engine is at normal operating temperature. If you’ve used your vehicle you’ll need to wait 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Withdraw the oil dipstick and wipe clean. Insert the dipstick fully.
  4. Withdraw the dipstick and hold horizontally while reading, to ensure that oil does not run up or down the dipstick.
  5. The oil level should be between the maximum and minimum marks on the dipstick.

If the oil level is below the recommended level, add more oil of the same type and brand to bring the oil level up to a maximum of 1 litre. It is very important to adhere to the maximum levels as engine oil overfilling can result in serious engine damage.

What is the typical oil consumption rate?

The typical rate of oil consumption can be up to 1 litre per 600 miles/1000km.

While this may be the case, there are a number of different factors that change the engine oil consumption rate in your vehicle. With this in mind it’s important to check your oil levels regularly, especially with new cars.

The factors that affect your oil consumption rate include:

  1. How many miles the vehicle has travelled – a new engine consumes more oil as its pistons, piston rings and cylinder walls have not become conditioned yet.
  2. How the vehicle is driven – more oil is consumed by high-speed driving at high engine speeds and frequent acceleration and deceleration.
  3. Climatic and road conditions encountered.
  4. The viscosity of the oil.

Remember, consumption is likely to be higher when the engine is new.

Need to reduce fuel consumption? We’re here to help.

Does oil viscosity affect oil consumption?

In recent years there have been demands for lower emissions and improved fuel economy. In response to these demands modern engines utilise new materials and surface finishes as well as lower viscosity oils.

Modern oils incorporate low viscosity, pure base oils in order to minimise engine friction over the life of the vehicle whilst delivering the capability of extended drain intervals. This, combined with advanced engineering techniques, means that under certain driving conditions new engines may consume more oil than normally expected.

It’s not about whether a different viscosity oil will be consumed faster, it’s about making sure you use the right viscosity for your engine and the temperature range you drive in. If you use an oil that’s either too thick or too thin for your engine or temperature, you’ll consume it much faster.

Note: Fully synthetic oils are produced primarily for high performance engines. These oils offer increased engine protection, however, using this type of oil will not constitute to lower oil consumption

Insufficient engine oil levels could void your warranty

Another reason to ensure that you always have the correct amount of oil in your vehicle is to maintain the warranty. If the engine has been damaged due to insufficient engine oil or overfilling the engine oil, repairs to the engine may not be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.

Engine oil level FAQs

As experts in car maintenance, we’re here to answer your questions about checking your engine oil.

Do you check the oil when the engine is hot or cold?

Your engine should always be at operating temperature when you check your oil. This means your engine should be cold. If you try to check your oil levels when your engine is hot there is a high risk of burns and your oil pan may not contain all your car oil.

Should your car be running when you check the oil level?

Your car should not be running when you check the oil level. It should be parked and your engine should be switched off and cool.

How much oil should be on the oil dipstick?

Your dipstick should have two marks or holes. The correct oil level should be between those two marks.

What if my engine oil level is too high?

If your oil level is too high it could cause damage to your vehicle. The oil could splash out and cause harm to key components of your engine. When you check the oil level, if it’s too far above the top mark you will need to let some oil out using the drain plug. If you aren’t sure about the oil capacity of your vehicle, check our Honda oil and fluid information guide for more details.

Can I add to my oil without changing it?

Yup! If your oil looks fine on your dipstick you just need to add more oil. Make sure the oil you add is the same as the oil you have in your oil pan already. If it doesn’t look right you’ll need to perform a full change.

What should oil look like on the dipstick?

In general, motor oil will be light-colored and transparent. It will get darker in the time it sits in your oil pan though. When you take your dipstick out, if the oil looks black then you’ll need to perform a full oil change, rather than just topping up. If your oil has turned a lighter brown or gone milky then you’ll need to change it too.

At Cox Motor Parts, we supply a variety of engine oil for Honda vehicles, including 0W-20 oil, 0W-30 oil, 5W-30 oil, 5W-40 oil and Honda Civic oil. If you need help finding the right engine oil for your make and model or any other genuine Honda parts, contact our friendly team.

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