How to Check Water & Oil Levels

Written by thomas mcnish
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How to Check Water & Oil Levels
Maintain your car by checking its oil and water levels. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

No one wants to end up on the side of the road with a smoking engine. Keeping an eye on your car's oil and water levels can help prevent this from happening. Oil helps keep the car's engine lubricated, keeping it clean and preventing it from overheating. In addition, water can be used to help cool the radiator, in conjunction with coolant (to prevent the water from freezing inside the engine). Checking these levels regularly is beneficial and can be done easily.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Rag
  • Water
  • Antifreeze

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Instructions

    Oil Levels

  1. 1

    Pop your car's bonnet by pulling on the latch inside your vehicle, located near the driver's seat. When lifting up on the bonnet, you may also need to pull up on a latch underneath the front of the hood to unlock it.

  2. 2

    Locate your dipstick. It's usually located near the engine itself, and is marked with the word "oil" or an oil symbol. It's often brightly coloured for easy identification.

  3. 3

    Pull the dipstick all the way out. Wipe down the entire thing with a rag. Insert the dipstick back into its pipe for a few seconds, and then slowly pull it back out.

  4. 4

    Look at the end of the dipstick to determine how much oil you have. There will a be a line that says "full" located above a cross-stitch type pattern. The trace of oil on this stick should be up near the "full" line.

    Water Levels

  1. 1

    Pop your car's bonnet by pulling on the latch inside your vehicle, located near the driver's seat. When lifting up on the bonnet, you may also need to pull up on a latch underneath the front of the hood to unlock it.

  2. 2

    Locate the radiator cap near the front of the car. There will be a warning on it notifying you never to remove it when it's hot. Never touch this when the car is running or has very recently been running. The engine needs to be lukewarm or cool before touching this cap.

  3. 3

    Grab the rag and twist the radiator cap off with your hand. The rag will help protect you from heat, as well as give you a good grip on the cap.

  4. 4

    Look in the hole to see how much water/coolant is in the radiator. If this level is filled to the top, you're fine. If it's lower, you'll need to add water and antifreeze. The two should be added equally, as a 50/50 mix.

Tips and warnings

  • If it's summertime, you can add some distilled water to your radiator instead of a 50/50 water/coolant mix; but only do this in a pinch.
  • Don't add tap water to your radiator. It could have impurities in it that may be bad for your engine.

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