show me tell me questions - not just for the driving test -
checking engine oil

You will be asked to open the bonnet and then to identify the engine oil dipstick and to go on to explain to the examiner how you would check that the engine has sufficient oil. Make sure that the engine is not running at the time.

It's important that you know how to carry out this check. It is best to set aside a little time on the same day each week to carry out several checks on your vehicle and checking the oil level should be one of these weekly tasks. You can then enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your vehicle is as well maintained as possible.

It is best to check the oil after the engine has been running and is not cold. Park the car on a level road as an incline could lead to a false reading. Switch off the engine and allow 5 to 10 minutes for the oil to run back down into the sump and for the engine to cool a little (it gets VERY hot). Remove the dipstick, wipe the end clean with a paper towel and then replace the dipstick fully and remove it again. You should be able to see the mark showing how much oil is in the reservoir and this should be between the minimum and maximum marks on the dipstick. Replace the dipstick fully after this process.

If the level was close to, or below the minimum mark you need to top up the oil. You need to check your car manual to see which oil to buy. You will see something like 5w-30 or 10w-40 (this is to do with the viscosity of the oil). To top up the oil you need to unscrew the oil filler cap and pour in just a little oil to begin with. Wait one minute and then check the level again with the dipstick. If the level isn't up near the maximum you will need to add more oil but take care not to put in too much.

Note that you should not need to top up the oil regularly. If this is the case, get the car looked at by a mechanic. Also note that you should never drive the vehicle if the oil warning light comes on without first checking and topping up the oil if necessary and then getting the vehicle to a mechanic as soon as possible. Ignoring this advice could result in the seizing up of your engine!

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