How Do You Use the Engine Oil Dipstick?

To use the engine oil dipstick to check a vehicle's oil level, first locate the dipstick, then pull it out, and wipe it clean. Then, insert the dipstick back into the pipe, pull it out again, and view the film of oil at the end of the stick to determine oil needs.

Before pulling out the dipstick, make sure that the engine is cold. On vehicles with transverse engines, the dipstick is typically located near the front of the engine. On vehicles with in-line engines, the dipstick is commonly located near the center of the engine. Wipe the dipstick off with a clean, lint-free rag before inserting it back into the pipe. If it gets stuck, simply turn it around, and reinsert it.

Pull out the dipstick once again; it should now have a film of oil at the end of it. Depending on how high the oil reaches on the stick, oil may need to be added to the vehicle; it the oil only reaches the "Add" level, oil needs to be added. Additionally, depending on the quality and condition of the oil, it may need to be changed. Oil can be added to a vehicle by locating the screw-off cap on the engine, commonly labeled as "Oil Cap," and pouring it in there.

When finished, insert the dipstick back into the pipe.