Whether you’re an experienced motorist or you’re just starting, knowing when to replace your car’s engine oil is crucial in keeping the engine components running optimally. But, according to statistics, most motorists are completely unaware of how much oil their cars’ engines demand. So, if you’re among those people asking themselves “how much oil does my car need”, then our short guide is here to help.
Now, the amount of oil your car demands will hugely depend on the size of the engine. Cars with small engines will demand far less oil as compared to cars with large engines. Also, the technology used by the engine will hugely tell the amount of oil that’s needed to cool, clean, and lubricate engine moving parts.
Since the oil is the lifeblood of your engine, it needs to be inspected frequently to ensure it doesn’t go below its recommended levels. So, in this guide, we’re going to discuss how much oil your engine needs as well as answer a few disturbing questions regarding oil changes.
First, How Does Engine Size Affect the Amount of Oil Needed?
Now, one of the factors that affect the amount of oil your auto demands is the size of the engine and the type of technology employed. As a rule of thumb, smaller engines will demand far less oil than their bigger counterparts.
For instance, a 4-cylinder engine will demand about 3.5-4.5 liters (4-5 quarts) of oil. A 6-cylinder engine will demand about 4.5-5.5 liters (5-6 quarts) while an 8-cylinder engine will need around 5.5-7.5 liters (7-8 quarts) of oil.
However, these figures are just estimations and are subject to change depending on your car manufacturer and the technology employed.
Other than the engine size, the oil filter is another factor that can affect the amount of oil your car will need. You see, when performing an oil change, there’s a high chance of replacing the oil filter. Since the oil filter holds about 3/8 quarts of oil, this value can have a slight difference in the amount of oil you’ll need eventually.
Therefore, assuming your car is powered by a V6 engine that requires about 5-quarts of oil, you might end up adding 5 3/8- quarts of oil if you replace the oil filter. In most cases, you should replace the oil filter each time you change the oil to avoid contaminating the new oil with the old one.
Role and Benefit of Motor Oil
Whether you own a limousine or a basic city car, the role motor oil plays in your car’s engine is immense. Without oil, your car is likely to suffer unpleasant consequences that range from mild to severe. Since oil is the lifeblood of your engine, it’s designed to fulfill multiple functions which we’re going to discuss here.
- One of the primary functions of motor oil is lubricating the engine. Since the engine consists of moving parts such as the valves, pistons, and connecting rods, lubricating these parts help in boosting their performance while reducing the rate of wear and tear.
- The second role of motor oil in your engine is assisting the coolant in keeping temperatures low. You see, as the engine works, the entire propulsion unit is likely to heat up due to friction. This raise in temperature can have severe consequences on your engine if you’re not careful. Therefore, to avoid any irreversible damage such as deformation of various parts due to metal-on-metal contact, motor oil is hence needed to cool these engine parts.
- The third role of motor oil is cleaning the engine’s components by flushing out sludge and piston deposits. Since most oils are formulated with special cleansing additives, this makes it easier for them to flush out combustion deposits and corrosive acids deposited in the engine.
- Lastly, motor oil helps to improve fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions. This is achieved when the engine is lubricated properly to improve its efficiency.
Having said that, we strongly assume you’re now well aware of the role motor oil plays in your engine’s performance. But, before we discuss a few steps on how to check your car’s motor oil, we would like to mention two factors you must be aware of when choosing motor oil for your dear auto.
Understand the Oil Viscosity Rating
This is an important parameter you must be familiar with when picking engine oil. The purpose of the viscosity grade is to differentiate motor oils in terms of the lubricant’s fluidity and performance under extreme temperatures.
Now, when choosing motor oil, you’re likely to come across two major viscosity grades. These are the multigrade and the monograde oils. Multigrade oils are common among most modern vehicles and are noted as ‘xWy’ such as 5W30 and 10W40.
Here, the numbers before the W (5 and 10) represent the low-temperature viscosity grade while the figures appearing after W (30 and 40) represent the viscosity grade in high temperatures.
Monograde oils, on the other hand, are noted as ‘SAE x’ for high temperatures and ‘SAE xW’ for winter conditions. When choosing motor oils, always remember that those with low viscosity grades are more fluid than those with higher grades.
Synthetic vs. Conventional Oils
One of the factors that greatly influence the amount of oil your car needs is the type of motor oil you pick. In most cases, you’re likely to choose between synthetic and conventional oils. Conventional oils work well when used. However, these oils have lower performance that leads to frequent oil changes.
On the other hand, synthetic oils are high-performance oils that contain special formulations. They’re loaded with special additives that have anti-oxidants, anti-corrosion, and anti-wear properties that help to flush out deposits and sludge from the engine.
How to Check Oil Level in the Engine
Now that we’ve discussed everything you need to know regarding how much oil your auto needs, our final step is to discuss a simple step-by-step procedure on how to check the oil level in your engine.
Step One: Be Precise About the Amount of Oil You Need
Now, in most cases, car owners find themselves bypassing this crucial step. Although most online sources will tell you how much oil your engine needs depending on its capacity, most of this information is just an estimate.
You need to find out precisely how much oil your car’s engine demands so that you can get the specific quantity. Also, you need to know whether your engine demands conventional or synthetic oil. But, how do you find the exact information? Well, here are four sources that can be helpful.
- The Car’s Manual: Your car’s manual is one of the areas where you can find reliable and factual information about the type and amount of oil your engine needs. Since most blogs only estimate this value, the manual is the only reliable source that gives you the exact amount of quart your engine needs.
- Manufacturer’s Website: In case you’ve lost your manual, the second-best source where you can find information regarding the amount of oil your car needs is the manufacturer’s website. The best thing about these websites is that they’re intuitive and easy to navigate. All you need is to key in your car’s details and the data you need is provided.
- Online Resource: If you’re the type of person that enjoys taking matters into your own hands, then perhaps you can consider the convenience of online sources such as Total and Advance Auto Parts websites. To use these websites, you have to submit your car’s data such as brand name, year of manufacture, model, and engine code.
- Service Center: If all the above information is unavailable, then you can consider booking an appointment with an expert mechanic. Since mechanics have both the knowledge and the database of most cars in their computers, knowing the specific amount of oil your car needs is quite easy.
Step Two: Park Your Car on a Level Ground
Start by parking your car on a flat level ground. This will allow you to make accurate readings since the car is not slanted. Next, turn off the engine and allow it to cool down entirely.
Step Three: Locate the Dipstick
Next, open your car’s bonnet to locate the dipstick. In most cases, the dipstick is easily identified by its bright color and T-shaped handle. Once you’ve located it, remove it gently and wipe it clean to get rid of old oil. Once you’re done, reinsert it gently.
Step Four: Check Oil Level
Remove the dipstick from the oil cylinder and check the level of oil you have. In most cases, the dipstick is calibrated with two marking that show the ‘Max’ and ‘Min’ level your oil should be. If the oil is somewhere in-between the two markings, then it means you have sufficient oil.
However, if the oil is below the ‘Min’ mark, or maybe there isn’t any oil on the dipstick, then you should top up your engine with new oil immediately.
Step Five: Top up Your Car With More Oil
To top up your engine with more oil, you need to locate the oil filler cap (mostly located on the engine bay). The cap can either have an ‘Oil’ marking or a drawing of an oil can. In either case, unscrew the cap and insert a funnel to make the pouring process easier and less messy.
When pouring the oil, make sure that you recheck the oil level using the dipstick to ensure that you don’t exceed the recommended level. Once the oil level reaches the ‘Max’ level, stop pouring and immediately lock the filler cap.
What Happens if I Pour Little Oil?
Earlier on, we discussed the various roles motor oil plays in your engine. One of these roles is lubricating the engine’s moving parts to prevent friction. Another lesser-known function is cooling down the engine.
Now, let’s assume you’ve poured about 4-quarts of motor oil in your engine instead of 5 or 6-quarts. What happens is that the engine will risk overheating due to excess friction between the metal parts. You see, when you start the engine, the oil immediately gets circulated throughout the engine parts.
This includes the camshafts, cam bearings, lifters, and valves among others. When the oil is insufficient, it lacks enough pressure to circulate to these parts. This can lead to either temporary or permanent damage to the engine.
What Happens if I Pour Excess Oil?
Again, this is a bad idea that can lead to serious engine failure in the future. When driving at highway speed, the crankshaft and other moving parts turn at the rate of about 20 times per second.
As a result, this causes excess agitation to the oil turning it into a frothy mixture with lots of air bubbles. Excess air bubbles in the oil make it less effective in lubricating the moving parts causing premature wear to the engine parts.
So, how much oil does my car need? I believe you now have a perfect answer to this disturbing question. As always, make sure that you consult your car’s manual or the manufacturer’s website for any queries regarding oil changes.
Secondly, keep in mind that pouring less or excess oil into your car can harm the engine in the end. To avoid this error, always use a dipstick to check the precise oil level before and after each top-up.
Lastly, make sure that you check the oil level at least once every two weeks. Always make sure that you park your auto on the flat-level ground to get the most accurate readings.