Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

How to Add Oil to Your Car

person adding oil to oil filter reervoir

Adding oil is a simple, painless process. To understand how it works, you need to know that oil operates in a closed loop system and is stored in the oil pan. The oil pan holds up to 4 to 6 quarts depending on the car. When the engine starts, the oil pump sucks oil from the oil pan through the pickup tube, and then goes through the oil filter where any dirt and debris are removed.

It then circulates throughout the entire engine via spurt holes, finally heading back to the oil pan to start the cycle again.

You should always check your oil before adding new oil. If the dipstick is indicating a low oil reading, you will need to add some oil to the car.

Here is how to add oil to your car:

How to add oil to a car

  1. Acquire the proper oil - Make sure you use the grade of oil that is recommended in the owner’s manual.

  2. Determine the weight - Oil is available in different “weights” and the oil container will indicate the weight or viscosity of the oil. Oil is usually sold in quarts. In most cases, one quart should do the job.

  3. Determine the rating - A “W” in the rating means that the oil has been tested at colder (winter) temperatures. Oils that do not have a “W” are tested only at 210° F, which is considered a standard engine operating temperature.

    Note: The majority of oils today are multi-grades, which basically means the oil falls into two viscosity grades, for example, 10w-40.

    person unscrewing the oil filter cap

  4. Remove the oil filler cap - Find the oil filler cap. It is usually a screw cap that is located on top of the engine. It may say “Oil” on it or it may be blank. Unscrew the cap and put it somewhere safe.

    Warning: Never try to add oil through the tiny dipstick tube. You will add it via a much larger hole on top of the engine.

    person adding oil to oil filter reervoir

  5. Pour in the oil - If the dipstick measured below the “Add” line you should pour in at least half of the quart of oil. You can use a funnel or pour it directly into the hole. Avoid spilling oil on the engine, as it will smell as it burns off, and be sure to wipe up any spills with a towel.

    Tip: Overfilling your engine with oil can damage the engine, so the best method is to add a bit of oil and then recheck oil levels before adding more.

  6. Re-check the oil levels with the dipstick - If the oil level is still below the “Add” indicator, add the rest of the quart and recheck the oil levels. When the oil level is close to the “Full” level, you are done.

    hand screwing cap back on

  7. Screw the oil filler cap back on - Test to make sure the oil cap has been properly screwed back on and is secure, and then close the hood.

Your vehicle is now full of oil and ready to go.

Recheck your oil levels in roughly 30 days.

If, for any reason, you are uncomfortable working on your vehicle, one of YourMechanic’s certified mobile mechanics would be happy to come to your home or place of business to check your vehicle fluid levels and add to or change the oil in your car.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

Insurance Requirements for Car Registration in Kentucky
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet requires that all drivers in Kentucky carry liability automotive insurance, or “financial responsibility” in order to operate a vehicle legally and maintain vehicle...
Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...


Related questions

Q: Oil level and effects

When the oil life says 10% life left, this has to do with how long it has been since the last time you changed the oil was. This does not indicate a low oil level in the motor. As for...

Q: How does the Maintenance Minder™ work?

It can be tough to keep up with maintenance like oil changes and tire rotations. Even if the shop you use remembers to put the reminder sticker in your windshield, it can still slip your mind. The Maintenance Minder™ on...

Q: I have a 2001 5.4 Ford F150. The oil pressure light & gauge is on.

Hello there, many common faults will result in your oil pressure gauge reading only after a few minutes and the Oil Pressure Light being on in your 2001 Ford F-150. The most common fault that would cause this is low...