Proper car maintenance doesn’t have to be complicated. Knowing the answer to simple questions like “how much oil does my car need,” and maintaining that level can mean the difference to a simple procedure or a complete engine overhaul.
The simple answer to how much oil does my car need is: your car requires between 5 and 8 quarts of oil depending on the motor size. The larger the engine, the more that is necessary.
We’ll break down exactly what you need to know below, including overfill, types of oil to use, and when you really need an oil change.
How Much Oil Does My Car Need?
The larger the engine, the more oil that is necessary. A 4-cylinder engine needs about 5 quarts of oil. A 6-cylinder motor uses around 6 quarts. An 8-cylinder engine may need somewhere between 5 to 8 quarts.
To find out the correct amount, you can check the vehicle owner’s manual. The amount of oil your particular car needs is listed in the vehicle specification section under the heading lubrication system.
If you don’t have the owner’s manual, you can check the manufacturer’s website for the make and model of the vehicle you own.
How Do I Know When There isn’t Enough Oil In My Car
When the oil light on your dashboard comes one, it means that the oil level is too low. When there is not enough oil, the engine starts to run roughly because of the build-up of deposits in the oil.
If you notice oil pooling underneath your car, then the oil level in your vehicle is probably low. You should take the automobile to a mechanic to find the cause of the oil leak while keeping the levels in the oil pan topped up.
If you add too much oil in your car, the excess liquid could get sucked into the crankshaft as it turns. There, the oil mixes with air and aerates or becomes foamy. Foamy oil can not be pumped by the oil pump effectively, which leads to decreased oil pressure.
Overfilling and the resulting foamy oil can cause bent rods, collapsed valve pipes, engine failure, excess engine wear, spark plug fouling, and oil deposits in the catalytic converter.
You can check the oil level with the dipstick. If the oil is an inch or more above the marked fill level, then there is too much oil. If you overfill your oil reservoir, you should drain the excess amount before driving your vehicle.
Other signs of oil overfill include:
- Black exhaust smoke coming from the tailpipe
- Oil leaking from the bottom of the vehicle
- Smoke coming from the engine area
- The smell of burning oil
- Strange noises coming from the engine
Which Oil Should I Use
Oil has a viscosity or thickness level. A viscosity grading system was developed by the Society of American Engineers (SAE) ranging from 0 to 60. When you buy a container of oil, the viscosity level is the number before and after the letter W on the label.
The number before the W is the oil flow at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. The W stands for winter. The two digits after the W are the viscosity level when heated to 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
The lower the number is before the W, the easier it is for the engine to turn over in cold weather. The lower the number, the faster the oil flows. Thicker oil flows slower and has a higher number. If the oil is too viscous, it won’t be able to flow and lubricate.
If the oil is too thin, it will run too fast and not lubricate properly. Check the owner’s manual for the proper oil viscosity for your vehicle.
When purchasing oil, you’ll also have the option of buying synthetic or conventional motor oil. Traditional oil is fine if you change your oil frequently. Synthetic oil has additives designed to remove deposits that build up over time.
If you are lax about getting the oil changed, then you may want to use synthetic oil. Synthetic oil is also less expensive than conventional oil. If your vehicle has more than 75,000 miles on it, you should consider using high-mileage oil. This type of oil has conditioners that expand and increase the flexibility of the seals that are in the engine.
How Do I Know When It’s Time For An Oil Change?
Engine oil is like blood in the body. All of the moving internal parts of your vehicle’s engine need to be lubricated by oil. If there is not enough or too much oil, the pieces will wear out, leading to engine failure. Engine failure is a costly repair.
On the other hand, checking your oil can be done in as little as five minutes. Changing the oil and filter is much less costly than engine repair and can be done in less than 30 minutes. You can do it yourself or have someone do it for you.
As motor oil moves through the engine system, it not only lubricates the parts but picks up contaminants, which makes the oil less viscous and dirty. Both the oil and the oil filter should be changed regularly, usually between 3,000 and 5,000 miles. Check your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommended oil change interval.
When you check the oil with the dipstick, it should be black or brown.
If it is lighter, with a milky sheen, it may mean coolant is leaking into your engine. If you see any metal particles in the oil, it might mean internal engine damage. Either of these conditions necessitates a trip to the mechanics.
The Bottom Line
So the answer to the question how much oil does my car need depends not only on the size of your engine but the current oil level in your vehicle. If there isn’t enough, you should add more.
If there’s too much, you should drain some out. Maintaining the proper amount of oil in your vehicle will keep it running better longer.