Information for New Drivers
If you are a new driver then you may require reminders and advice on how to care for your vehicle so that you can drive responsibly. Therefore, we have created an informative guide for our customers, to help you with maintaining your vehicle and keeping safe on the road. If anyone is unsure, just call in for a free check with us.
Checking Your Engine Oil Levels
Some vehicles have electronic oil monitors that display dashboard oil levels. However, for many vehicles, it will be necessary to get below the bonnet and use the dipstick. Follow our step-by-step guide below to help you to care for your car between services and evade engine issues.
What You Will Require
If Your Vehicle Has a Hot Engine
Step 1 – Park your vehicle and switch off the engine
Ensure your car is parked on even ground, since a slope may provide an incorrect oil reading. It is important that your engine is cool. If you have only just driven your vehicle, wait for between 5 and 10 minutes prior to inspecting your oil level, or examine it first thing before driving your car. You should never inspect anything below the bonnet when the engine is turned on.
Step 2 – Locate the dipstick and wipe it clean
Open the bonnet of the vehicle and search for the plastic handle of the dipstick. If you are not certain about where this, take a look at the owner’s handbook. When you have identified the dipstick, remove it and wipe it with some kitchen towel. Marked clearly into the clean dipstick will be 2 notches for maximum and minimum oil levels.
Oil Level on Dipstick
Step 3 – Dip your dipstick and observe the level
Replace the clean dipstick and fully insert it into its tube. Remove it and examine where the oil line is in relation to the end notches. If the top of the oil streak is in between the min and max lines, the oil is at a good level. If the level is under halfway between the marks, then it would be a good idea to add some additional oil. If it is close to or under the minimum mark, then it is crucial that you add some oil.
Topping Up the Engine Oil in Your Vehicle
Step 4 – Top up your engine oil
If your oil needs to be topped up, locate the oil filler cap in the engine bay. The word ‘oil’ should be written on it, or the outline of an oil can should be drawn on. Remove the oil filler cap and carefully pour the oil in with a funnel. The gap between the min. and max. notches on a dipstick is around a litre of oil. Therefore, if the level was on or underneath the minimum when you inspected it, you will need to pour in around 1L.
If you do not know how much oil you will need, add small amounts at a time. Wait for a couple of minutes to allow the oil to reach the bottom of the engine and then observe the level on the dipstick once again. Pouring too much oil into your vehicle is equally as bad as not having enough oil. So, ensure to pour in the oil with a steady hand.
Checking the Coolant
Many contemporary vehicles have a dashboard warning light to let you know if there’s an issue with your coolant. However, sometimes the sensors can become faulty, so you should not solely rely on the warning light alone.
To check it or top it up manually, follow the steps below:
1. Identify the expansion tank
Ensure that you locate the correct tank (adding antifreeze to the screen wash, power reservoir or brake fluid could be very damaging). Take a look at your vehicle handbook to identify the whereabouts of the cooler filler cap.
2. Check the coolant level
The coolant should be between the minimum and maximum marks at the side of the expansion tank.
3. Inspect hoses for issues
Observe visible hoses as you check the coolant. White or wet staining is an indication that future issues could arise.
4. Top up if required
If the coolant needs to be topped up, do not remove the filler cap unless the engine has cooled right down – you could find yourself getting scalded by an outburst of hot liquid.
Ensure you use the correct antifreeze for your particular vehicle. As well as protecting your engine during the cold months, antifreeze prevents the build-up of scale and corrosion throughout the year.
5. Take your vehicle to a garage
It isn’t normal for coolant levels to decrease.
If you notice that the coolant level of your vehicle has dropped, it is essential that you take your vehicle to a garage.