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August 2015
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Car Care: Oil Level
Understanding oil level can help maintain proper engine health and extend vehicle life

Recently, a prominent consumer publication noted that some vehicles consume oil in between services. While it may sound like an old-fashioned concern, it can be true of both newer and older engines.
 
While not all vehicles consume oil, automakers say it is considered normal for some vehicles to need a topping-off, either occasionally or regularly. Consult your owner’s manual and dealer service department to understand what level of oil consumption is okay and what is considered excessive. It will vary, and your driving style and the conditions you drive in will also play a role in how much oil your vehicle uses.
 
The main takeaway for every vehicle owner, regardless of make or model, is that oil levels should be checked regularly, especially in light of the extended intervals that some vehicles now have. 
 
It doesn’t take a lot of time to check the engine oil level, and it’s not difficult. In fact, it’s something you can do at every fill-up, without adding any appreciable time to your stop. The most important thing to do is to familiarize yourself with the location of the engine oil dipstick, engine oil fill, and the grade of oil that is specified for use in your engine. Take some time to poke around with the hood open and your owner’s manual in hand.
 
Once you’ve located the key pieces, make sure you know how to use them. The dipstick has marks indicating the full level, the “need to add” level, and the acceptable range in between. There are some vehicles without dipsticks, too. These cars make it even easier for you by keeping tabs on the oil level with a sophisticated oil level measurement capability integrated into the engine management. The driver information display will sound a chime and alert to the need for the addition of oil. Some vehicles now have “oil life” monitors, as well, but these are not substitutes for regularly checking your oil level.
 
Be sure to check your oil when the engine is off and the vehicle is parked on a reasonably level surface. When the level is low, you’re asking a smaller volume of oil to do the same work as the proper amount. Oil has to lubricate, clean, and in some cases manage the temperature of engine components. Routinely running an engine with low oil levels can not only cause the remaining oil to degrade prematurely and possibly leave nasty deposits in your engine, it can also cause expensive damage to engine components and shorten their lifespan.
 
The oil fill is located on the top of most engines. In many cars, it even carries information about the grade and type of oil. While it’s not good for your engine to be low on oil, being overfull is also potentially hazardous to the engine, so make sure there’s neither too much nor too little.
 
If you are like most people, your car is the second-most expensive thing you own (behind a house), so it makes sense to maintain it and look out for its well-being. Just a minute or two every time you fill up, or as part of a regular routine of checks and maintenance, will help you get the most out of your investment.  
 
This article is presented by Perkins Motors in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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