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A Complete Guide on How to Read Oil Dipstick

March 19, 2024 | Victor Lukasso

Reports from car owners show that the engine Oil dipstick is hard to read; this article will show you the easy and efficient way to read an Oil Dipstick.

Engine oil is an import fluid that needs to be added in the right proportion in automobiles to enable proper functionality.

If the Oil content is low or excess, it could seriously damage the engine and other moving components.

The Oil dipstick is a tool used to Gauge the amount of oil remaining in the engine; it is mainly situated at the hood or engine of a car.


By default, the general steps on how to Read your oil dipstick has been provided to you in your buyer manual, but it’s almost the same for all car model.

Let’s learn to read an Oil Dipstick appropriately without wasting much time.

How to Read Oil Dipstick

The importance of oil to a car can’t be over-emphasized; it helps prevent friction between two moving parts in the engine, thereby preventing engine damage.

An Oil Dipstick can be Read by anyone as long as you’ve got the basic knowledge we will show you below.

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1. Open the Car Manual

As stated earlier, car manufacturers always have the best time to check your oil level using a dipstick.

While some ask users to read the dipstick when the engine is still hot, other requires that the engine be cool to get an accurate result.

Although, it’s generally required to allow your car to cool so that oil can settle down and give accurate readings.

2. Make sure you’re parked on a smooth road surface

The position of your car plays a vital role in how oil will be positioned in your engine. Do well to park on the levelled ground to help you get the best result on your dipstick.

Slant or bent road surfaces will likely produce incorrect measurements and readings.

3. Lift the Car’s Hood

The hood that grants you access to the Oil dipstick is mainly situated in front of the car, back of your vehicle, or inside the motor, depending on the car brand.

You must get past it to reveal all engine components and create an excellent oil-reading environment.

4. Find the Oil Dipstick

The Oil dipstick is usually a long metal piece insulated with a yellow, red, or orange circular plastic at the edge.

Depending on the car brand, Oil dipsticks are made up of dots, holes, inscriptions, or lines to show oil levels.

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You can refer to your manual guide if you are confused about locating the Oil dipstick. However, they’re mainly located close to the engine bay.

5. Take and Wipe the Oil Dipstick Clean

Without applying force, remove the dipstick from the engine and wipe it clean of all oil content.

You can get a rag and wipe it clear off the previous oil. This is relevant to get us a proper oil reading.

The presence of oil on the dipstick might complicate our readings which isn’t ideal.

6. Insert your Oil Dipstick to take Readings

Depending on how your dipstick is built, You must immerse the clean dipstick into the oil again to take a proper inspection and reading.

Most oil dipsticks have the F and L inscription to denote full and low, respectively; others have a line at the bottom and another at the top, while some have dots up and down.

If your oil level is at the L mark and below, you’re short of oil, but if the mark is between F and L, it’s moderate.

How to Read Oil Dipstick

Also, it’s not only when your oil level reaches the L mark that you can initiate an oil top-up; once the oil Is reducing below average, pour oil into the existing content.

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Nevertheless, you should consult your car manual to get the best-tailored oil readings.

7. Wipe and Insert the Oil Dipstick

After you’ve taken your readings and decided on adding a little top-up, oil change, or covering the oil.

You must clean the dipstick again before inserting it into its port.

That’s the complete guide on how to Read Oil Dipstick.



What level should oil be on the dipstick?

After taking a dipstick measurement, the oil level should be in-between the low and high marks. You can also initiate a top-up if necessary.

What does good oil look like on a dipstick?

Good motor oil has a near-transparent and glossy look. If you notice a dark, dirty look or the presence of particles, then it’s time for an oil change.

Is it OK to slightly overfill the engine oil?

While car owners are often tempted to slightly overfill engine oil, it’s not a good practice. Asides from engine damage, Excess fat can cause oil leakage, excess smoke from the engine, and strange noises from the engine.

What do the dots on the oil dipstick mean?

The dots on the Oil dipstick signifies the minimum level an engine oil should be at for the engine’s proper functioning.

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Meet Victor Lukasso, the owner of V. Auto Basics. Through this blog, Victor Provides Insights on the latest tips, maintenance, repair, and techniques in the automotive world.