How to Put Oil in a Car

This "how to put oil in a car" guide will show you step-by-step the best way to fill your car with oil. There aren't too many things you can do to mess this up and it is something that pretty much everyone can do. This is also an essential skill for every car owner since it is virtually guaranteed that at you will have to top off your car with oil at some point. 

Whether you are filling your car after an oil change or just topping it off at the gas station this "how to put oil in a car" guide will help you do the job with confidence.

Motor Oil Types and Weights Explained

Before you learn how to put oil in a car, you need to first find out how much oil your car needs and what type of oil the manufacturer recommends.

If you are just topping off your oil then you just need to add it a little at a time (usually around 1/4 of a quart) and check it after adding each time until it is full. If you have just done an oil change then you need to know how much oil the engine takes. 

There are a few ways to find this information. The easiest place to look is in your owner's manual. It will show the amount of oil needed and the weight of oil that is recommended.

If you don't have an owner's manual then you can try looking under the hood of your car. Many times there will be a sticker in the engine compartment that will tell you how much oil the engine requires. If you can't find the engine compartment sticker then you can turn to good online repair manual that is specific to your vehicle.

Update: Amazon has made shopping for motor oil a breeze for vehicle owners. Simply go to Amazon: Automotive: Oils & Fluids: Oils: Motor Oils, then use "Filter by vehicle" to choose your vehicle make and model.

The type of oil or "weight" of oil refers to the viscosity or resistance to flow (basically the same thing as thickness). The photo below shows where the numbers are located on an oil bottle and what they look like:

Oil Bottle Info

Most vehicle manufacturers are putting thinner oil in their cars than they used to because engines are built with much tighter tolerances than they used to be. A thin oil would be somewhere around 0W-20 and a thick oil would be 20W-30. Many times the oil fill cap will tell you what wieght of oil you will need.

Where do You Put Oil in a Car?

After you have the right amount and the right weight of oil you need to find the oil fill cap. This is generally located on the top of the engine (sometimes on the top/side). You can find the location in your owners manual if you can't seem to find it. Many times the cap will say "oil fill cap" or something similar. 

You also need to be sure that you know where the oil dipstick is located. You will need this to be able to tell when you have enough oil in the engine. Most of the time they are bright yellow or orange and they are hard to miss. You should be able to find the location in the owners manual as well. Many times there is more than one dipstick.

Be sure you know the difference between the oil dipstick and the transmission dipstick as well as the power steering dipstick. 

Oil Fill Cap Location

How to Put Oil in a Car Engine

After you know where the oil cap is and the dipstick is then you are finally ready to put oil in your car. You simply need to remove the oil cap, put a funnel into the opening and slowly pour oil into the engine. 

There are several things you need to know when filling the engine with oil.

Be sure that you don't overfill the engine. If you are just topping off the engine then don't put too much in at a time. Be sure to stop and check the oil often so you don't overfill it.

Pour the oil into the funnel slowly. If you pour too fast the oil can leak out of the oil fill hole and get all over the engine. This usually causes it to leak down onto the exhaust manifold (which is very hot) and burn off while you are stopped at a red light. This would smell extremely bad and possibly cause a fire!

Be sure to hold the funnel while you are pouring. Many times the funnel will not just stay where it is put and you could end up with oil all over the engine.

One of the best ways to put oil in a car without a funnel is to pour it with the oil bottle on its side. This will let the oil flow in more smoothly and minimize spillage.

Try to make sure the oil is warm before you pour it in. I usually keep the oil inside the house before I put it in the engine. This will help the oil flow out of the bottle and into the engine much easier. That's all to it - Now you know where and how to put oil in a car.

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