Main content | back to top
Checking your oil and battery levels
Incorrect oil levels can cause serious damage in your car’s engine, so it’s important to check your oil level regularly. This is very easy to do and just takes a few minutes. We recommend keeping a 1 litre bottle of oil in your car so you can top up whenever necessary.
How to check your oil
First, choose the right oil for your car by checking your car manufacturer’s recommendation. Alternatively, try our quick and simple Shell LubeMatch tool.
Ensure that your car is parked on level ground, with the hand brake on and the engine off. Open the bonnet (there’s usually a lever under the dashboard) and prop it open with its support. Avoid touching the hot engine. Allow one minute for the oil to settle.
Put on some protective gloves and pull out the dipstick (which you’ll find protruding from the engine block – recognisable by its looped end). Wipe it clean with a paper towel and replace it fully for several seconds. Then remove it again to study the oil level.
The oil level should fall somewhere between the minimum and maximum marks on the dipstick and may need topping up. See the diagram for an indication of how much oil to add. Amounts are approximate and for guidance only.
Remove the oil filler cap to top up the engine with the appropriate amount of Shell Helix oil, preferably using a funnel. The scale on the bottle will indicate how much has been used. Repeat steps 2 and 3 to check the new level.
Replace the dipstick and the oil filler cap securely. Clean any finger marks from the bonnet and wipe any oil from your hands with a moist towel, disposing of any waste materials in an appropriate place.
When you notice that your oil level is below the minimum mark, find out how many kilometres have passed since the last oil change. If you’re not sure refer to your handbook for recommended oil-change intervals or if your mileage is above 15000km, it’s advisable to perform a complete oil change. If the mileage is between 4000km and 15000km you will only need to top up your oil. You can find out how to change your oil here.
There may be a technical problem if your mileage is less than 4000km and the oil level is low. Top up and start measuring the level on a weekly basis, or contact your local mechanic for further advice.
If the oil has white specks in it, the engine coolant is mixing with the engine oil because of an internal engine problem, have your car inspected.
For guidance on how often to change your oil, be sure to consult your handbook for the recommended oil-change interval.
To find the right oil for your car try our quick and simple Shell LubeMatch tool.
Checking your battery fluid level (this only applies to unsealed batteries)
Look for the battery and check its appearance. It should be clean, particularly around the terminals. You may have a sealed-for-life battery that will make this check unnecessary. If you do have to top-up the battery, be careful – it contains sulphuric acid, so do not splash the fluid on yourself or the car bodywork.
First, check if you have a sealed-for-life battery that is permanently sealed. Most of these batteries will feature a built-in hydrometer that displays the current condition of the battery cells. If you do have this type, there is no need to refill the battery.
Next, remove the positive and negative terminal cables from the battery. Clean the terminals and post of any acid or corrosive build-up and then reattach the cables. Use a screwdriver to pry open the removable caps on top of the battery and put them to one side.
Now take a look at the fluid level in each cell. The fluids should be level with the filler ring, approximately 1 inch below the top of the battery. If they are low, use a funnel to top each cell up with distilled water. It must be distilled water otherwise impurities could damage your battery.
After each cell is filled to the filler ring, replace the caps making sure they are sealed tightly. Check a week later to see if the levels have reduced. If they have, you may have a problem like a crack in the casing. Get your battery inspected by a mechanic to avoid any problems.
- Check if you have a sealed-for-life battery. If you do, stop here.
- Remove positive and negative terminal cables, clean terminals, then replace cables.
- Use screwdriver to remove caps.
- Check fluids and top up if necessary with distilled water.
- Replace caps tightly.
Courtesy of ehow: http://www.ehow.com/how_7802577_measure-fluid-level-car-battery.html
Refer to the car’s user manual on how to check and top-up the brake fluid and engine coolant levels. Regularly checking these levels may not change your car’s appearance but is a rejuvenating experience for your vehicle.