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How can I check my oil to see if it needs changing or I need to add more?
A simple inspection will let you know how clean your oil is and how low it may be. Making sure your oil is clean and that you have enough of it can prevent serious damage to the engine. You definitely don't want to wait until you see the red oil pressure gauge lighting up your dashboard. (If you do see this, pull over to the side of the road immediately and seek assistance.)
To check your oil, you'll need a level place to park and a rag or thick paper towel to clean the dipstick. You'll want to check your oil only when the engine is cool--after the car has been sitting for a while or after a very short trip, say to the gas station, which is a good place to check you oil, anyway.
1. Park your car on the level surface and turn off the engine.
2. Your owner's manual will show you where the dipstick is, but if you'd rather explore, open the hood to access the engine, and look for a metal hoop or a kind of shepherd's crook attached to a metal stick. That's the dipstick. Sometimes they are marked with an oil can symbol for easier identification.
3. Pull the dipstick out and wipe it clean with a rag or paper towel. Note the consistency of the oil. Is it smooth or grainy? If it's grainy, it's definitely time for an oil change. Car manufacturers recommend changing oil approximately every 3,000 miles.
4. Reinsert the dipstick into the cylinder from which it came.
5. Now pull out the dipstick again and note where the oil level marks it. The dipstick will be marked to let you know the oil's level.
6. If you need to add oil, find the oil cap on top of the engine, remove it, and use a funnel to pour the oil into the hole. Use the dipstick to recheck the oil level.

Be careful not to overfill, as engine damage could occur. When adding oil, add a little at a time, checking the dipstick as you go to make sure you don't go over the marker indicated.

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