To ensure that your vehicle and the mechanical components that comprise it work properly, it’s essential to check your engine oil and change it regularly. Unsure how? In this guide, we provide all the steps you should follow to successfully check your oil level and change your engine lubricant.
Why do you need to check and top up your engine oil?
Oil ensures your engine is properly lubricated, allowing pistons to slide smoothly within their respective cylinders, hundreds of times per second. Without this lubrication, the friction between the metal parts would seriously damage the engine in just a few minutes.
Additionally, oil continuously releases impurities contained in the engine circuit. This means it eventually becomes loaded with too many micro-residues, altering its original physical properties, and impacting its viscosity and ultimately, its efficiency. In addition, oil is inevitably lost over time as high engine temperatures consistently burn off small amounts of oil – and as we know, less oil means less lubrication.
How to check and top off your engine
Due to the issues experienced by old or a lack of engine oil, it’s necessary to check your engine oil level at regular intervals to top it up when needed.
Before checking the oil level, make sure your engine is turned off and has been allowed to become cold to avoid the risk of burning yourself, and that your car is on level ground, to see the exact amount of oil remaining. Open your vehicle’s hoodand then follow these steps:
- Pull on the dipstick ring until the dipstick is fully removed, and wipe it with a dry, clean cloth.
- Reinsert the dipstick fully, but without forcing it. If the dipstick gets stuck, remove it, wipe it again and repeat the operation, keeping the dipstick very straight.
- Once fully inserted, pull out the dipstick and check the oil level. To do this, look at the minimum and maximum marks on the dipstick. If the level is below the minimum mark, you need to top up the oil.
- Unscrew the oil filler cap, which is near the engine and the dipstick (an oil can is drawn on top of the plug).
- Gradually pour in the new oil.
- After each top up, check the oil level on the dipstick until you reach the maximum mark. Do not allow the oil level to go higher than this mark.
- Screw the cap back on the oil tank and reinsert the dipstick.
To be on the safe side, remember to check your oil level every 1,000 miles, and always before you go on particularly long trips. If the oil level warning light on your dashboard remains lit after topping up, you should contact a specialist.
How to change your engine oil
The frequency at which you should change your engine oil depends on the car’s year of manufacture, its mileage, and its engine type (gasoline, direct or indirect injection diesel, diesel particulate filter). Always see your vehicle owner’s handbook for exact instructions on when to change the oil.
It is essential to change the engine oil according to the dates or mileage indicated by your vehicle manufacturer or mechanic. Otherwise, the engine may clog or become damaged sooner, its performance will no longer be optimized, and the vehicle will consume more fuel.
To change your engine oil:
- As when checking the oil level, make sure that your vehicle is cold and parked on a level surface.
- Open the hood and remove the dipstick and the oil filler cap.
- Position your drain pan beneath the oil drain plug located on the engine block.
- Unscrew the oil drain plug and let the oil drain.
- When all the oil has drained, clean the oil drain plug, replace the crush ring, and screw the plug back on, using a wrench if necessary.
This operation is generally quite messy, so we recommend having rags on hand.
Before refilling the oil reservoir, you should also replace the oil filter. To do this:
- Unscrew the old filter with an oil filter wrench and install the new one.
- Remove the pan beneath your vehicle and pour the used oil in a sealed container to place it in an oil recovery container at a recycling facility – pouring used engine oil into the sewer system is strictly prohibited.
- Make sure that the oil drain plug is properly screwed on, and pour the new oil into the oil tank, using a funnel to avoid spillage.
- Wait a few minutes to allow the oil to circulate through the engine.
- Check the oil level, topping up if needed.
- Screw the oil filler cap back on, start the engine and let it run for about two minutes to give the oil time to flow uniformly through the engine.
- Let the engine cool, and check that the oil level is below the maximum marker.
If you can’t change your engine oil by yourself, don’t hesitate to use a qualified professional. Contact our team today or view the complete TotalEnergies automotive product catalog for more information on our high-performance oils, lubricants, greases, and fluids, or learn more about engine oil.