Your car won’t run without oil. But how much oil does your car need to run? Plus, there are different types of car oil available. Which one is right for your car?
This is an essential guide to car oil. We’ll address some of your car oil FAQs, and where possible, we’ll link to other resources where you can learn more.
How Much Oil Does My Car Need?
It all depends on the car you drive. The bigger the engine, the more oil you need. So if you want to know just how much oil your car needs, just read your owner’s manual. This will tell you everything: The type of oil to use, how much to use, and how to change it.
Your owner’s manual will also offer guidance on how often you should check your oil.
What Type of Oil Does My Car Need?
Car oil can either be conventional, synthetic, or a blend of the two. Most modern cars work best with fully-synthetic oil, as this contains compounds designed to deliver optimal performance and safety. Look at a can of car oil and you’ll see lots of codes and numbers.
- The oil’s grade indicates how thin the oil is. Lower grade oils work better in colder temperatures.
- The API number simply indicates whether the oil is for a petrol car or a diesel car.
- The ACEA figures give information about fuel economy and performance.
Once again, your owner’s manual will tell you everything you need to know about what sort of oil to use in your car. But if you’d like to know more about the different types of car oil, head here to read our full guide.
How to Check Your Oil
Checking your oil levels is easy:
- Open the bonnet and look for the car’s oil tank.
- Next to the oil tank will be a dipstick, or an oil level indicator. Pull this out and make sure it’s clean.
- Insert the dipstick back into the dipstick tube as far as you can, then pull it out again.
- Look on the side of the dipstick for minimum/maximum levels, and see where your oil levels lie.
Checking your car oil is a fundamental part of driving. That’s why examiners often ask learner drivers to describe how they’d check their car’s oil levels as part of their driving tests. So whether you are a learner driver or a new driver, it’s good to make sure you know how to check you oil.
Do I Need to Change or Top Up My Car Oil?
If your oil levels are too low, you can always top them up. But you should get into the habit of routinely changing your car oil. Why? Because over time, contaminants will make their way into your oil. And at the same time, oil will gradually boil out of your engine.
If you top up your oil instead of replacing it completely, eventually you’ll get a higher ratio of contaminants to oil in your engine. These contaminants can be abrasive, so eventually they’re going to start wearing away at your engine.
You can ask your garage for an oil change every time you get a check-up. Though you can save time and money by doing it yourself. Just make sure you dispose of the oil responsibly – it’s illegal to just pour it down the drain, so take it to a recycling centre!
For more information about topping up and changing your oil, head here to read our full guide.
What Happens If My Car Oil Runs Too Low?
If you don’t keep on top of your car’s oil levels, it can lead to a lot of problems down the line. In most cases, if there’s a problem with your car oil, your car will simply refuse to start.
Conventional motor oil can break down at high temperatures. Many drivers switch to thicker grades of oil during the summer months, as it makes it easier to start the car on hot days. For more information about summer engine issues, head here to read our full guide.
Similarly, oil can thicken in low temperatures, meaning it won’t flow around the engine like it should. This will place more strain on your car’s battery, which is why cars often refuse to start on cold days. Some types of oil are specifically designed to keep engines running reliably in colder temperatures. Head here for more information.
What Type of Engine Coolant Does My Car Need?
Along with oil, fuel, and windscreen washer, engine coolant is the other major fluid that keeps cars running. As with car oil, there are many different types of engine coolant out there, each one designed for different cars and different purposes.
Want to know what type of engine coolant is right for your car? Head here to read our full guide.
Keep on Top of Your Car Oil Levels
You can help prevent almost any car issue through simply committing to regular checks. Learn how to check all of the most vital aspects of your car, and be prepared to take action immediately should anything require your attention. This way, slight issues won’t have a chance to develop into serious problems.