When You Need to Add a Quart of Motor Oil

01
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Adding Motor Oil

Man checking dipstick oil level in a car
Joe Fox/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

If you checked your Engine oil and found the level to be low, you should add a quart. Motor oil is sold in quarts, so if you grab a plastic bottle at your local gas station, you've got a quart. There are different types of motor oil, called "weights," so check your car's owner's manual to see what they recommend. If you can't find the manual or you're in a pinch, you can always add a quart of 10W-30 or 10W-40 safely (they're labeled right on the front). If you're extra worried about cleanliness, buy a funnel, too, but it's not a must.

02
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Unscrew the Oil Filler Cap

Remove the oil cap.
Motor oil inside. photo mw

With your hood safely propped open, look for a big screw cap right in the middle of the engine. It'll have a picture of what looks like a watering can on it, and some even say OIL. Again, you can consult the owner's manual on this.

03
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Don't Forget the Cap!

Put the oil cap in a safe place.
Don't lose your oil cap. photo mw

Unscrew the cap, and put it someplace safe, where you won't forget it! Leaving the cap off can be messy and even dangerous. The engine can catch on fire. If you can, put the cap over the hole in the hood latch so that you can't close the hood without putting the cap back on.

04
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Pour Motor OIl Into the Engine

Carefully pour the motor oil in.
Motor oil poured carefully. photo mw

With the cap off, carefully and slowly pour your quart of motor oil into the engine. Don't worry if you spill a little, you won't do any damage but it might smoke and stink a little when you start the car. Put the cap back on the oil fill hole and you're done. You've just reduced the wear inside your engine by a lot!

Remember:

  • Only add one quart at a time.
  • Put the cap back on!

It's a good idea to check your oil again after doing some driving, just to be sure you're at the right level.

That's one more step toward Automotive Empowerment. Next, check out this guide for how to change your oil.