Tuesday 21st May 2019,
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How And Why To Check Your Engine Oil: For people that never did it before.

Bev Roberts 23. October 2014 Dirty hands, Magazine No Comments

We will start `with why you need it`.
Motor oil is a viscous (slippery) liquid which lubricates the motor`s internals and dissipates heat while the engine is running. It circulates, by virtue of an oil pump, to all the moving parts and then returns to the sump at the bottom of the motor. The sump is a cooling pan and reservoir that the oil pump intake is submerged in. An apt analogy is that the pump is the heart and the oil is the life-blood, which indeed it is.

Oil level is critical. If you have too much of it the oil-seals that prevent leakage will fail. If you have insufficient oil the oil will over-heat, thin out and cause engine wear. This problem will progress until the oil gets so hot it will lose it`s viscosity and it`s lubricating capability. You do not have to `run out` of oil, just have too little of it, to have a very expensive problem. As this situation progresses the moving parts will start to expand, tighten and bind, leading to an eventual seizure which is catastrophic. To avoid this disaster all that is required is to maintain the oil supply.

Oil-level maintenance;
Have your car serviced regularly. The oil and it`s filter need to be renewed every 10,000 km (or according to your service manual), or annually, whichever comes soonest. Check the owner`s manual to ascertain what type of oil is required. The colour of the oil is not important, usually clean oil will turn black in a few months. What does matter is that the oil is viscous and free from solid particles. These particles signify a blocked oil filter.

How to check your oil;
It is wise to check your oil daily, before setting off on your journey. It will only take two minutes. Parked on level ground, open the bonnet and make safe. Putting on gloves to keep your hands clean, locate the dipstick. It usually lives on the side of the engine. You can identify it quite easily. Older cars will have a loop-shaped handle; younger cars have a plastic handle, usually coloured red or yellow.

If the motor is cold and has not been started just draw the stick out and observe the indicated level. You will see that there are two marks, one for `high` and one for `low`, typically two centimetres apart. If the level is between the two marks you are clear to proceed.

If the motor has been started, wait for 5 minutes after stopping it to allow the oil to drain back to the sump. Then (gloves on) draw the dipstick, wipe it and replace it all the way. Draw the stick out again to show the actual oil level in the sump. If the indicated level is within the two marks you are finished, just replace the stick.

Make a quick check of the oil`s condition. Ignore the colour but check that the oil is viscous and sticky. Check for gritty particles in the oil smear. If the oil is thin, like black coffee or there are solid particles present you need an oil change. If the oil level shows `low` you have a little more work to do. You will find the oil filler-cap on top of the motor, usually clearly marked. Remove it. Put in a plastic funnel to avoid spillage, pour in about 20 cl of the correct oil. Check the dipstick after 5 minutes and add more oil if needed. Check level again. Continue until the level is correct. It is important that you take great care with this procedure as getting oil out of the engine is a lot more difficult and time consuming.

Normal oil-consumption varies from car to car so don`t be surprised if you use one litre per month or none at all. When you`re done, replace the filler-cap… DON`T FORGET!! Close your bonnet and drive to wherever you are going. You are now a responsible driver. We congratulate you! We wish you many miles of happy motoring but please, do not read Inopian while you are driving!

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About Bev Roberts

Speed, the smell of hot oil, the roar of a straight-through exhaust and the scream of an engine at max revolutions. They have all been a large part of my life for almost 50 years. It is time to share my experiences with you, dear reader. Do you want to know more? Read on through my `Full Bio` and many articles.

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I was born in Hereford UK in 1948 and brought up in Gloucester UK. I played Rugby football internationally as a schoolboy. At the age of 17, a new and wet driving license in my paw, I entered motor racing. I was supported and financed by my parents and so my journey began.

In 1965 I bought a 1293cc Mini-Cooper `S` and campaigned it for a season. Having quickly made some good friends in the racing fraternity, several interesting opportunities came my way. I joined a sports-car team and raced in the Le Mans 24 hours in 1968 and 1969 in a Lola T70. Mechanical failure defeated both efforts. During that period I owned and raced a `D type` Jaguar and an AC Cobra. In those days cars like that were available and not too expensive, now they reside in museums and private collections. I had a chain of interesting cars through my youth including Jaguars, Minis, Mustangs and Lotus-Cortinas.

As a young driver I had my share of accidents too. Often the car would only be worth scrap-metal value by the time I got it home! I worked for an Aston-Martin/Jaguar dealership for a while, which enhanced my experience and gave me the opportunity to sample some very exotic machines, Ferrari, Facel-Vega, Iso and Maserati to recall a few of them.

At the end of 1969 I moved to South Africa to work on my uncle`s farm but the S.A. government had other ideas and drafted me into the army. After five years had passed I was thanked and released from the service. While I was there I bought a beige Cadillac Eldorado, previously the property of Marilyn Monroe. While I was away on a patrol my girlfriend had it re-sprayed pink! I was unimpressed by both the joke and the bill for the work!

When I returned to UK in 1974 I left it behind. On my return I found that the once-mighty British motor industry was in decline and was headed for oblivion. Motor racing was now very expensive so I turned to commercial transport. Driving large trucks gave me freedom and a chance to see some of the world. I don`t remember ever making a career choice but for the next thirty years a truck was my home. For about ten years in that period I owned two trucks of my own.

I also owned a famous MGB-GT, known as `Lucky`. If you`d like to read `The Story of Lucky` there is an article in Inopian`s archive. I finally retired, due to ill-health, in 2008. Since I had varied knowledge and many experiences on our subject I decided to share the stories of the cars I enjoyed (and hated) with the new generation.

Enjoy Inopian… it is constructed and written for you.

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