Every vehicle owner knows that replacing the engine oil at periodic intervals is crucial in keeping the optimum working condition of the engine. Most, however, have no idea as to how much oil for an oil change is needed. The answer is as varied as the number of car brands and models on the road. Learning the exact figure is not that difficult. There are plenty of resources to help you determine the answer to the question, ‘how much oil does my car need?’
Where to Find the Exact Information
Your best source of the amount of motor oil to use on your car is your owner’s manual. The service manual also provides very specific information about the type and amount of oil that you should put in the engine.
The owner’s manual contains everything that owners should and ought to know about their car. Manufacturers provide these owner’s manuals as a guide for the proper care and maintenance of their vehicles. The manual comes in different sections. You can find the information about your motor oil in the section for Vehicle Specifications. You can also look under the Lubrication System subheading.
If you are having difficulty looking for the information from the manual’s table of contents, you can use the index instead. Go through the different items and check if you see words like ‘motor oil’, ’engine lubrication’, or other similar terms. Opposite the word is the section and the page number where you will find the information you are looking for.
Vehicle owners who have misplaced or lost their manuals do not need to fret. You can always visit the website of the vehicle manufacturer. They have online tools that can help provide the data that you need. Enter the details about your car and the tool will provide you with the answer.
There are also online resources that can help you look for the information you need. You only need to visit these sites and enter a little information about your car. In general, you will be asked about the brand of your car, its model, trim, model year and sometimes engine code. Hit the search button and the online resource will return the information that you seek. Some online resources can also answer the question, ‘how much oil does my car hold?’
Another source of information is the car service center. The mechanics there would have already worked with the same vehicle make as yours. They will have a fair idea of how much oil your car needs. They also have a database of vehicle specifications in their computers. You can ask them for information regarding the amount of oil you are going to put in your car.
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Engine Size and the Amount of Motor Oil
Most vehicle owners ask how many quarts for oil change they have to prepare for. This depends on the size of the engine mounted on their cars. For obvious reasons, the bigger the engine, the more oil that it will need.
Engine oil lubricates the different components of the engine. Adequate lubrication prevents friction between the metal components. This helps prevent the buildup of heat. Some modern car engines come with additional cooling measures. They help the motor oil in keeping the engine from overheating.
In addition to lubrication, motor oil also has cleaning properties. It removes deposits that may have accumulated in critical engine parts. It also removes other contaminants that may affect the performance of the engine.
Given the critical function of motor oil, it is important to put only the correct amount. We said that the bigger the engine, the more motor oil it needs. Bigger engines have bigger components that require adequate lubrication.
In general, cars with 4-cylinder engines have an oil capacity of 5 quarts. Vehicles with 6-cylinder engines will often use about 6 quarts. And if you happen to own an 8-cylinder powerhouse, then you can expect to use about 8 quarts of oil.
This also depends on the manufacturer. Some manufacturers of V8 motors employ advanced engine manufacturing technologies that make their products compact. In such cases, the answer to the question ‘how many quarts for oil change?’ may only be 5 quarts. That is why it is crucial to seek the information from either your owner’s manual or the vehicle manufacturer’s website.
Oil Filter Change Can Affect the Amount of Oil Needed for Your Car
An oil change almost always goes hand-in-hand with an oil filter change. This is to make sure that no debris and other contaminants will be present in the new lubricant. Replacing the oil filter also has an effect on the final amount of motor oil needed for the engine.
For example, a V6 engine may require about 3 and 7/8 quarts of motor oil if you do not replace the oil filter. If you also change the oil filter, you will need about 4 and ¼ quarts of oil.
The difference accounts for the oil that is present inside the oil filter. This is equivalent to about 3/8 quarts. If you do not replace the oil filter, then you risk contaminating the new (3-7/8 quarts) oil with the old (3/8 quarts) oil.
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What If I Put Less Oil in the Engine?
The question, ‘how much oil does my car need?’ also begs another question. What will happen if I put less oil than what the vehicle manufacturer recommends? For example, what will happen if you put 3.5 quarts instead of 4 quarts of oil?
We already mentioned the critical role that motor oil plays in the performance of the engine. Less oil means a higher risk of engine overheating. There is more friction. This can also lead to faster wear and tear of the different metallic and mechanical components of the engine.
An engine startup is one of the most critical phases of its operation. The motor oil should be able to reach the upper-end components of the engine. These can include the timing chain, the camshaft and cam bearings, the valves, and the lifters, among others. It is crucial that the motor oil reaches these parts within the first 2 seconds after cranking the engine. If the oil is too low, then you may have a problem with these components.
What If I Put More Oil in the Engine?
Putting more oil than the recommended level is also not a good idea. Excessive engine oil can also lead to engine wear in the long run. The crankshaft, the oil pump, and mechanical engine components will whip the excess oil in a frenzy. This creates air bubbles, turning the oil into a frothy mixture.
The oil pump may pick up some of these air bubbles and circulate it throughout the engine. The mixture of air bubbles and oil reduces the ability of the oil to prevent friction. This also undermines its ability to protect the engine parts. In the long run, it can lead to serious engine wear.
Checking the Oil Level
Whenever replacing the motor oil, it is imperative that you check the level of oil. This will help make sure that you have the correct amount of oil in your engine. This is all part of determining how much oil for an oil change is needed.
If you are not sure about the amount of oil to put in your car, you can pour 3 quarts first. Check the oil level using the dipstick. If it is low, then add about half a quart. Check the oil level again. It can be very tedious but it is one way you can make sure that you are putting the right amount of oil in the engine.
In checking the oil level of your engine, warm it up first for about 10 minutes or so. This will help circulate the oil throughout the engine components. Turn off the engine and wait for about 2 minutes. This will allow the oil to settle in the crankcase.
Pull out the dipstick from its port and wipe it with a clean piece of cloth. Insert the dipstick back into the port. Wait about 1 or 2 seconds before pulling it out again. There are markings on the dipstick that help to determine the current level of oil. The marking nearest the tip indicates the lower limit of the oil level. The marking farthest the tip of the dipstick indicates the upper limit of the oil level.
If the oil sheen is below the lower marking, then you have low oil levels. Add about half a quart of oil. Wait about 2 minutes before checking it again. Add more if the oil level on the dipstick is not yet in the middle. Always wait 2 minutes after each topping-up of the oil before rechecking the oil level.
If a friend asks you, how much oil does my car hold?’ you already know what to say. Always check the owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website. As an alternative, you can replace the oil in a more gradual manner.
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