When to check oil

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Confirmed. My manual states that the oil level should be checked on a level surface, and while the engine is cold. This will give whatever oil is in the upper part of the engine time to work it's way down.
On the other hand, my 1997 Mercedes-Benz manual says to check it several minutes after shutting the engine down. For example, at a fuel stop. So did the manual for my '86 with a V-8. I guess the engineers have their reasons. Though I suppose it doesn't matter as long as you're consistent. If you check it cold or hot, do it that way every time; don't compare a cold reading to a hot one.
Read the manual. I like my Mazdas as thery say read after 5 minutes which is great for a gas and go. On my Maxima, the oil drains from one head through the dip stick tube. car has to sit quite a bit to get an accurate reading - frustrating when you want to do a gas and go with quick oil check.
For cold climates: Nissan QR25DE says ten minutes after shut down, oil is hot then. I use this as reference but never top up, always on luke warm reading winter, completely cold summer. In extreme sub zero weather, oil can contract and show lower reading, topping up can overfill if your fanatical about being right on full mark like I was once. Hot oil expands some too, too hot oil check may throw one off too. I figure Nissan may want the oil checked 10 minutes later to allow for that expansion on their dipstick full mark setting? I now shoot for about 1/16-1/8" inch lower on full mark on warm (not hot oil) hours later after shutdown to insure no overfill. My Cummins can sit 5 days, I have checked oil cold sub zero, then plug in heat pad on pan few hours, oil temp then little below operating temp, oil level can then climb up 3/16-1/4 inch from previous cold check based on 12 litre sump. In winter I like to check my Nissan/Cummins oil level few hours after shut down, lots time oil to drain down hot/warm but oil luke warm room temp on check for accuarate reading. I live in extreme climate. For those lucky ones in southern U.S. the cold climate factor does not apply to your oil checks. easy cold checks for level there like our summers up here, not winter. Cyprs
I haven't had to add oil to my car or truck since I bought my Cavalier 4 years ago. So any time I remember that either one could start being low on oil is a good time to check it. Also before a long trip. bought my Cavalier 4 years ago. So any time I remember that either one could start being low on oil is a good time to check it. Also before a long trip. I did have to add about a quart every 3000 miles in my Grand AM. I always went ahead and added what it needed when I checked it. [ January 26, 2006, 02:29 PM: Message edited by: wwillson ]
Do like the manual suggests, and then, do it the same way every time. Same way may be more important than which way. [ January 26, 2006, 02:29 PM: Message edited by: wwillson ]
Hyundai and Honda specify a minute or two after shutting off a fully warmed engine. The delay allows time for oil in the top end to drain back down to the sump. Measured oil volume decreases when cold, so, doing a cold check on a dipstick calibrated for a hot check will result in a falsely low reading.
I always prefer to check with the engine warm when the car has been running, and now that I think about it I believe that's what most of the manuals I've read recommend. I fill the car, wash windows, pay, and check the oil as the last step before leaving the gas station. Question for me is, why is this usually the recommended procedure? Is it because automakers recognize that checking oil during a fill-up is the most common for owners, so they calibrate the dipstick oil level with that in mind; or is it because there is some benefit to checking the oil when the engine has been running and the oil is mixed-up and warm? - Glenn
Interesting. This from the '03 Sonata owner's manual: "Before checking the oil, warm up the engine to the normal operating temperature and be sure your car is parked on level ground. Turn the engine off. Wait a minute, then remove the dipstick, wipe it off, fully reinsert the dipstick and withdraw it again. Then note the highest level the oil has reached on the dipstick. It should be between the upper ("F") and the lower ("L") range." I don't suppose 1 minute or 5 minutes really makes a hill-o'-beans' difference one way or the other, though.
id check the oil level at least once a month or twice a month during winter/summer months. Id warm the car up with a good 30 minute driving to get the oil real hot (might want to do some WOTs). Park car on level ground or at a park. Turn off engine and wait at least 10 minutes for the oil to settle back down. After 10 minutes time, open hood, take a cloth towel or clean paper towel and check the oil. Might be helpful if it's a sunny day. Should be between the L and H mark.
I check mine cold, same way every time. I look for trends rather than exactly how much is in there. If it's between the lines, that's good. I don't add until it shows a half qt low anyway.
Only when cold is dumb in my book. When on a trip I check at ever other fill up but, wait till after I fill with gas or about T-10 minutes. Otherwise when at home I check it when warm or cold but, not hot. JMW
Cold, warm, whatever. Just don't check your oil level the second you turn off the key, and don't do it when you are parked at a 45 degree angle. Your car isn't going to asplode because it was over or underfilled by 1/8 quart. When all else fails, just read the directions [read: your manual].
3-5 minutes after shutting the car off when it has been at operating temperature. small 4cyl civic
Its been years since I've worked on a 911, but I sorta remember checking them hot while the engine was running...early 70's
Your supposed to check your oil? [Wink] I am very bad about this. I will check it before a long trip in the wifes car, and may check it once on mine between oil changes. Granted neither of my cars burn/leak oil (yet) so it is not a real problem so far. And both my Hyundai and Dodge manuals say check 5 minutes after shutting off.
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