How To Read a Dipstick With Dots: Accurate Interpretation

How to read a dipstick with dots is something to know because it is an essential factor in keeping the engine in your automobile in good shape. Using a dipstick with dots is among the most popular and simple ways to check the engine oil level.

Read a Dipstick With Dots


But it could be a little complicated if you’ve never maintained a car before or used a dipstick. Below, you will get a step-by-step guide of how to manage your level of oil of engine and quickly read a dipstick with dots.

How To Read a Dipstick with Dots Accurately?

To read a dipstick with dots accurately, you have to get familiar with the owner’s manual, find a level surface to park, locate the oil dipstick, clean the dipstick, insert the dipstick back into the engine, check oil level on dipstick, and interpret the oil level reading.

1. Get Familiar With the Owner’s Manual

It’s important to read the owner’s handbook for your automobile before attempting to check the level of oil of engine. The handbook gives important instructions on how to check the oil level properly and what kind of oil of engine your automobile needs. It’s important to use the right kind of engine oil for your car since it can affect how well and how long the engine runs.

The owner’s handbook will also provide you with useful advice on other required maintenance chores that must be done on a regular basis, such as how often you should change the engine oil. Regular oil changes are important to prevent sludge and debris accumulation in the engine, which can cost money in expensive repairs later on.

The owner’s handbook can also tell you where to find the engine oil dipstick and other parts of the engine that you might need to inspect on a regular basis. Also, it can alert you to any risks or dangers that you should be aware of while monitoring the oil level.

2. Find a Level Surface To Park Your Car

The automobile must be parked on a level area in order to properly monitor the level of oil. The engine oil may be overfilled or underfilled as a result of parking on an elevation or uneven surface that might affect the oil level readings.

Parking Car on Surface

A correct reading on the dipstick depends on the engine’s oil being dispersed equally, which is ensured by a flat surface. Oil settles consistently into the engine’s oil pan when the automobile is parked on a level surface, making it possible to gauge the oil level precisely.

Also, when checking the oil level, parking on a flat surface offers a secure working environment. On slanted or unstable terrain, trying to check the oil level can be risky and increase the likelihood of an accident or heavy damage to the car.

It’s vital to remember that it might not always be feasible to locate a flat area to park the automobile on. In these situations, it’s advisable to hold off on checking the oil level until the automobile can be parked on a flat surface.

3. Locate the Oil Dipstick

A long, thin metal rod called the oil dipstick is usually found close to the engine block. A “full” and “add” line, as well as dots or holes that denote the oil level, are marked on it. To correctly check the level of oil, you must know where the oil dipstick is located.


Finding the engine block is the first step in locating the oil dipstick. The engine block is normally found under the hood of automobiles, and the dipstick is sometimes marked with the term “oil” or “engine oil.”

After finding the dipstick, it’s critical to wait until the engine is completely cold before checking the oil level. This is due to the fact that skin contact with heated oil can result in serious burns. It’s also vital to keep in mind that some automobile models could come with multiple dipsticks.

For instance, some vehicles have a separate dipstick for the gearbox oil. In order to guarantee that the proper dipstick is used to check the specific level of oil of engine, it is crucial to refer to the owner’s handbook.

4. Clean the Dipstick

Cleaning the dipstick is essential before monitoring the level of oil in order to get an accurate dipstick reading and get rid of any oil residue or debris that may be present. A dirty dipstick might give a false indication of the oil level, which could cause the oil of engine to be overfilled or underfilled.

Cleaning the Dipstick

Start by taking the dipstick out of the engine block so you can clean it. Then, remove any oil or dirt from the dipstick using a fresh cloth or paper towel. Be sure to thoroughly clean the dipstick along its entire length, giving special attention to the bottom tip, which displays the oil level.

Note that neither water nor solvents should be used to clean the dipstick. Solvent usage increases the risk of the dipstick degrading or being contaminated, which might result in readings that are off.

In addition, water can combine with the oil and harm the engine. Prior to checking the oil level after wiping the dipstick, it’s imperative to wait a little while. As a result, the oil pan receives an accurate reading on the dipstick and any surplus oil may flow back into it.

5. Insert Dipstick Back Into the Engine

The dipstick must then be correctly reinserted into the engine block after being cleaned in order to monitor the oil level.  In order to get a precise reading, make sure to insert it all the way down.

It’s significant to remember that some dipsticks could contain marks showing the minimum and maximum oil levels while others might have dots, crosshatching, or other indicators. No matter what kind of dipstick is used, the oil level should be between the lowest and maximum dots or marks, which indicates the ideal oil level for the engine.

The dipstick should be inserted into the tube and left there for a little while to allow the oil to rise up the dipstick. This guarantees that the readout of the oil level is precise and trustworthy.

6. Check the Oil Level on the Dipstick

A vital part of keeping an engine in good shape is checking the oil level on the dipstick. Understanding how to interpret the lines or dots on the dipstick is crucial for getting an accurate reading. Find the marks or dots first on the dipstick.

Oil Level on the Dipstick

The maker of the dipstick will determine whether it has a “Min/Max” or “Add/Full” indication, dots, or crosshatching. In rare instances, there could be both marks and dots. Check the oil level on the car’s dipstick after that.

To acquire a precise reading, hold the dipstick horizontally. The dipstick’s minimum and maximum indications or dots indicate where the oil level should be. If there is not enough oil in the engine, you must add extra if the oil level drops below the minimum marker or dot.

On the other hand, if the oil level is higher than the maximum marker or dot, the engine has too much oil in it, which might result in engine damage. To get the oil level between the minimum and maximum indications or dots, you will need to drain some of the extra oil in this situation.

The oil level on the dipstick should only be checked when the engine is cool or has been off for at least 10 minutes. The expansion of the oil during a check of the oil level while the engine is hot might lead to an incorrect reading.

7. Interpret the Oil Level Reading

It’s critical to appropriately interpret the information after checking the oil level on the dipstick. An inaccurate interpretation of the oil level data might seriously harm your engine because it offers crucial information about the condition of your engine.

Start by looking at where the oil is located on the dipstick in order to appropriately understand the oil level indication. The engine has too much oil in it if the specific oil level is higher than the maximum dot or indication on the dipstick.

It’s critical to drain the extra oil to bring the level within the allowed range since overloading the engine with oil might result in damage. The engine is low on oil if the oil level is below the dipstick’s minimum dot or marker.

Insufficient oil levels can harm the engine’s internal components, such as the pistons and bearings, which rely on oil for lubrication. The engine is adequately lubricated if the oil level falls within the permitted range between the minimum and maximum indications or dots on the dipstick.

But, if you find that the oil level has fallen considerably after your last oil change, it’s critical to check for oil leaks or other issues that might be causing the oil level to drop. It’s vital to remember that the oil level reading should be viewed in conjunction with other symptoms of engine health, such as odd engine sounds or tailpipe smoke.

8. Re-Insert the Dipstick and Close the Car Hood

It’s time to reinstall the dipstick and close the hood of the automobile once you’ve checked the level of oil and understood the information. Replacing the dipstick into its slot until it snaps into place after you have completed checking the oil level requires caution. Check to see if it descends all the way to where it started.

Closing the Car Hood

Pull the dipstick out once more after re-inserting it to make that the oil level is still within the acceptable limit. You might need to add additional oil or get the automobile serviced by a qualified mechanic if it isn’t. If there is any oil or debris on the dipstick, wipe it out with a paper towel or lint-free cloth before reinstalling it in its slot.

Securely close the car hood after re-inserting the dipstick and cleaning it. Ensure that the latch is set correctly and that it is firmly fastened. Next, put the old paper towel or cloth in a trash can or recycling container for disposal.

Keep it from laying around or throwing it out the window of your automobile. The technique of monitoring the level of oil involves only two easy but crucial steps: re-inserting the dipstick and sealing the hood.

Can I Use a Dipstick Reading to Determine if the AC Clutch is Engaging?

A dipstick reading cannot determine if the AC clutch is engaging. To manually jumpstart AC clutch engagement, it is necessary to visually inspect the clutch and listen for a clicking sound when the AC is turned on. This indicates proper engagement.


You may avoid engine damage caused by overfilling or underfilling the oil of engine by following the steps in this how to read a dipstick with dots guide to guarantee that the oil level readout is accurate and trustworthy. To summarize the main ideas that we have discussed here:

  • To learn about the suggested oil level and maintenance plan, start by reading through the owner’s handbook for your car.
  • When it’s time to check your oil level, park your car in a flat area, find the oil dipstick close to the engine, and wait until the car engine has cooled before checking the oil level.
  • To check the specific oil level, remove the dipstick, clean it with a towel, thoroughly insert it again, and then remove it once again.
  • To attain the specified range, add oil in tiny amounts or drain some oil as necessary by carefully interpreting the measurement to see whether the oil level is too low or too high.

Reinstall the dipstick and shut the hood once you’ve analyzed the reading and made any required changes.
Keep in mind that to maintain your automobile operating smoothly, you should constantly refer to the owner’s handbook and replace the oil frequently.

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