All machines, including automotive engines, need proper lubrication to minimize wear and tear of moving parts. Engine Oil or Lubricating Oil creates an oil film between two moving contact surfaces and reduces friction between them. Regular maintenance of a car or motorcycle includes inspecting the level of engine oil, topping up if the level is slightly low or completely replacing the oil after certain time/mileage. One important question that car owners have is: How Much Oil Does My Car Need? In this guide, we will take a brief look at lubrication and engine oil, see different ways to find out the amount of oil a car needs.
A Brief Note on Engine Oil
Lubrication system is a very important part of any automobile, be it a large truck, a car or a motorcycle. We use engine oil as a lubricant in car engine and the basic function of lubrication is to reduce the friction between in-contact moving parts, thus reducing wear and tear.
Apart from lubrication, the engine oil also helps in carrying the heat in the engine, forms an oil-seal between the cylinder and piston rings and also carrying the combustion waste products through the exhaust.
Engine Oils are distilled from crude oil. There are some additives in engine oil apart from the crude oil base stock that help the oil maintain its viscosity, prevent oxidation and also keep acids from forming.
It is clear that engine oil is an important part of a car engine. If you properly maintain your car with regular servicing, then you can reduce the wear and tear and extend the lifetime of your engine. One important part of regular maintenance is to keep the correct oil level.
How Much Oil Does My Car Need?
Now comes the important question: How Much Oil Does My Car Need? If you are trying to replace the engine oil in your car yourself, then you definitely need a proper/accurate information about the engine oil. Let us now see how can we find out the information about any car’s engine oil.
Read the Manual (RTFM)
The first and easiest way to find out the amount of oil your car need is to read the car’s manual. All cars come with an owner’s manual that lists out important specifications of your car and also maintenance tips and procedures.
If you have a hardcopy of the owner’s manual, then look for something like specifications. Different manufacturers put this thing differently, but the specifications will list out the amount of engine oil your car needs.
I have taken the following image from my car’s manual (a Hyundai 1.4l Diesel Engine). You can see that for a complete drain and refill, my car needs about 5.3l or 5.6 quarts of engine oil.
Apart from engine oil volume, the manual also specifies other fluids such as transaxle fluid, brake fluid, coolant and also fuel. So, the best and accurate way to find the answer to “How Much Oil Does My Car Need” is to RTFM.
Call Your Local Dealer/Mechanic
If for some reason you are unable to find your car’s manual or you lost it somehow, then the next best way to find out about the quantity of engine oil is to call your local dealership. To be specific, call the dealership’s workshop and ask for the information from a service advisor or a mechanic.
99% of the time, you can get a straightforward answer from them. They will ask the make, model and year of your car and provide you with the volume of engine oil your car takes.
Sometimes, they might ask the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) of your car as they can check in their database and provide you with accurate information.
You can also contact an experienced and professional mechanic at your local garage. Chances are, your mechanic knows the engine oil quantity by heart or he/she refers to a service manual.
Use Online Resources
Another way to find out how much oil your car needs is to go online and search in auto parts websites or automobile forums. You can also search for the engine oil quantity from the manufacturer’s website.
Almost all car makers tend to provide this information in a maintenance (or something similar) section. I took the following screenshot from my local Hyundai’s website. You can see ‘Engine Oil’ in the ‘Oil & Consumables’ section, which is actually a part of the maintenance tab.
As I mentioned earlier, you can also find the information on your car’s engine oil requirements in reputable automobile forums. If the information is not available directly, you can post your query or create a thread for your car and other users who have the correct information will definitely provide you with an answer.
Importance of Correct Oil Level
Almost all cars come with a dipstick to check the level of engine oil. Now, before you check this, make sure your car’s engine is off for sometime and also it is cool. This makes sure that the engine oil is properly settled in the pan and you don’t burn your hands touching hot engine parts.
The engine oil dipstick comes with minimum and maximum level indicators. Now, you might be wondering: What if the engine oil Level is too low or too high? We will now see the consequences of such situations.
If the engine oil level is too low, it can cause a serious damage to the car’s engine. Some common problems with low engine oil are: pistons becoming scuffed and damage to crankshaft bearings.
Excess engine oil can also cause problems. If the engine oil level is too high, then the crankshaft dips into the oil. The spinning crankshaft dipped in oil can throw oil at the cylinder walls and damage the oil rings. As a result, the engine will produce more exhaust smoke.
Another problem with excess engine oil is that the spinning crankshaft will mix oil with air which reduces the oil pressure. This can collapse the hydraulic lifters or break the crankshaft.
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Lubrication is an important part of any moving mechanical object, be it a simple bicycle’s chain or a car’s engine. Speaking of car engines, one common question that many car owners get is: How Much Oil Does My Car Need? We saw different ways to find out the engine oil quantity of a car. We also learned about the importance of maintaining proper engine oil level.