Car maintenance is not child’s play, and avid drivers know how hectic it can be. However, in this day and age, where owning a car has become a necessity, learning its sustenance skills can save you hefty maintenance costs. Drivers often ask how long they should wait before checking their car’s engine oil.
Knowing the answer to this question is vital to your safety, as hot engine oil can result in severe injuries and burn marks. Make sure you read our guide thoroughly before attempting to check your engine oil. With that said, let’s buckle up and see how long to let the engine cool before checking the oil.
How Long Should You Wait Before Checking Engine Oil?
When it comes to checking the motor oil when you shut off the engine right after a drive, keep this fundamental rule in mind: Haste makes waste. Let your car sit idle for a while after killing off the engine before taking a reading. It is essential for taking accurate readings of oil temperature and level in a safer environment.
Although the waiting time could depend on many factors like the car manufacturer, type of engine, and surrounding temperature, we recommend waiting between 5 to 15 minutes before checking the engine oil.
That said, if you immediately insert the dipstick in the oil pan, you will get an inaccurate reading while also putting yourself in danger. When the engine is shut down after running, the oil needs time to simmer and settle down to the sump or oil pan. Therefore, a waiting period of 5 to 15 minutes is ideal before taking any measurements with the oil.
Of course, you can refer to your manufacturer’s manual for the ideal waiting period. However, some other factors that contribute to this time are discussed below.
1. Type Of Car Engine
Different types of engines have varying optimal temperatures for the motor oil in them. For example, in a gasoline-powered engine, the temperature of motor oil can be 230 – 260℉, and for diesel engines, it’s 200 – 230℉. Therefore, make sure you wait 10 to 15 minutes before checking the oil.
You don’t have to wait for the engine to cool off completely, but 10 to 15 minutes are sufficient to make it reasonably warm, where oil checking can be done safely. For racing car engines, as the oil temperature tends to reach up to 350℉, give it some extra time to cool off. We recommend at least 20 minutes.
2. Weather Of The Surroundings
It goes without saying that the weather of your surrounding environment can also affect this timing. We recommend following the same 10 to 15 rule during summers and warmer weather. However, as the engine can get colder significantly faster, waiting 5 to 10 minutes would be adequate.
Check The Engine Oil In Your Car
Being able to check the engine oil of your car is an essential skill that every car owner should learn. If you perform periodic inspections of your engine oil, both your car engine and your wallet will be thankful to you. We recommend doing so at least once a month. Let’s discuss the importance of checking your engine oil and the best inspection method.
Why Should You Check Your Engine Oil?
You can never undermine the importance of periodically inspecting the temperature and level of your motor oil. It will protect your engine from damage that may be caused by overheating, thermal breakdown, or low-pressure levels of oil. Dirty and inconsistent oil is harmful to your car’s health and can also be dangerous to life due to its potential to cause an engine fire.
How To Check Engine Oil?
Now that we have established the importance of inspecting your car’s engine oil let’s take a look at how you can do so. Whether you’re a veteran car owner or a first-timer, knowing the accurate method of checking the engine oil in your car can uplift your maintenance skills significantly. Therefore, follow the steps described below to check your engine oil accurately:
- Ensure your car’s engine is not running and is parked safely at the ground level. Checking the car’s oil at an inclined surface is a bad habit.
- Wait for 5 to 15 minutes for your engine to cool off before checking your engine oil. Refer to your car manufacturer for an exact waiting time.
- Open the car’s hood and look for the dipstick marked with a red-colored plastic tab. If you’re unable to locate the dipstick, refer to your manufacturer’s manual for internal drawings of your car’s hood.
- Remove the dipstick and clean it with a soft rag or paper towel. Make sure you remove any oil splashes from the dipstick before inserting it back inside the oil sump. Furthermore, keep in mind the reading you get upon removing the dipstick for the first time is usually inaccurate due to oil splashes.
- Insert the dipstick back into the oil sump and make sure it sits properly. Wait for a moment and let the dipstick catch an accurate oil level.
- Pull out the dipstick and check its top for the oil level reading in the sump. Check the bottom of the dipstick for an indication that’s highlighting whether the sump’s oil level sump is low.
- In order to monitor the quality of the oil, you can rely on visual inspection. A good-quality oil should have consistent viscosity and a brighter, more transparent oil. If the oil has turned darker and thicker, it is a sign of contamination with dust and other particles and needs to be replaced immediately.
- Cleanse the dipstick once more with a clean rug and place it back into the oil sump. Make sure it sits in its place perfectly before closing the car’s hood.
If you follow this regime at least once a month, you’d never have any engine oil-related complaints about your car.
This completes our guide on how long you should wait and let the engine cool down before checking the motor oil. Any negligence when operating on the engine cooling circuit could be harmful to yourself and your car. Therefore, we recommend always being patient when performing even minor maintenance and inspection tasks on your vehicle.
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