top of page

Your Dipstick is Your Friend

Your Dipstick is Your Friend

I have written about this topic before. I may be preaching to the wrong crowd. Me and mechanics everywhere are probably troubled by this same fact though. Car owners are not checking their oil level.

Not that most car owners were ever checking their engine oil level. They were just getting away without checking that level between visits to their service provider. Most vehicle owners would typically have their vehicle serviced at least twice a year or every six thousand kilometres.

For many vehicle owners the old game has changed. You may now be driving a vehicle with an oil life monitoring system. You now have a read out in your instrument cluster that indicates the life left in your motor oil between 100% and 0%.

From 100% to 0% could take you a full year and/or 10,000 to 25,000 kilometres. A lot further than the old 6k 6 month mantra many subscribed too.

In our hurry up busy world many are extremely excited about less visits to your service provider for the proverbial oil change service. We are even made to feel this practise is more green. Fewer oil changes less waste oil. You know the drill.

Most vehicles do not have an oil level monitor and therein lies the problem. All cars burn oil to some degree. (A subject of a previous Mechanically Speaking). Many vehicles would survive the 6,000 kilometre interval and still be a litre or slightly more low on oil but guess what happens at 10,000 kilometres. Now your vehicle is likely getting seriously low on oil.

Depending on the design of your vehicles oil pan (where the oil collects in the bottom of the engine and is picked up by the oil pump) you may experience a flicker of the oil pressure light climbing or descending a hill. It may also occur on a sweeping left or right turn. That flicker of light or check gauges light is indicating your vehicle just lost all oil pressure. The engine damage in this case is very quick.

Oil is also part of your engine’s cooling system and a low level means less cooling capacity. Higher engine part temperatures is the result.

Both the low oil pressure and higher temperature situations will shorten your engines useful life.

Mechanics throughout the world cringe at the thought of ruining an engine by running it low on engine oil. Our DNA is not conditioned to easily accept this needless destruction of a finely tuned piece of machinery.

New technology and better lubricants have significantly increased engine life. Are longer service intervals now going to negate those advantages.

I would suggest lifting the hood on a regular basis to check your oil level. I believe getting a few more years service from your vehicle is the greenest practice of all.

bottom of page