How Long To Let Car Sit Before Checking Oil?

Exam time! What is one of the most crucial things you can do right now for your car? Yes, you need to check the oil level. To prolong the life of your car, you must be aware of when to change the oil or top it off before a long drive. But you also need to be able to properly check the oil. To do that, you must be aware of how long your engine needs to cool before you check the oil. If you get it wrong, your reading might be off.

Although measuring the oil level is simple, it is also possible to make a simple error. CarMats will go over the steps again so you can follow them exactly each time. Let’s start.

What is Motor Oil?

Motor oil comes first. What is it, and why should you regularly check it? The mixture of oils and additives that make up motor oil, especially synthetic oil, is used to lubricate an automobile’s engine. Furthermore, the additives clean, cool, reduce friction and extend engine life. Modern synthetic oils go above and beyond these tasks; they can also clean the engine of debris and improve performance (while reducing emissions).

It’s crucial to keep your engine oil clean. Contaminants have a chance of getting into the oil whenever the engine burns fuel. The sludge accumulates and can move around crucial components when those contaminants settle. The engine will be harmed if you use the incorrect oil, pick a low-quality oil, or even just forget to check and clean the oil.

Low or dirty oil also reduces the vehicle’s operating efficiency. Therefore, you might want to check your car’s oil as soon as possible if you notice that it is lagging or that its fuel efficiency has suddenly declined.

Should I Check My Oil When The Engine is Hot or Cold?

When the engine is either slightly warm or cooled or both, is the ideal time to check the oil level. If you’ve just driven your car, turn it off and give it a good 10-15 minutes to cool down. Checking the level will be more accurate after 15 minutes when the oil will have settled into the oil pan.

Nevertheless, it is best to check the engine oil level when it is cold. You should avoid getting motor oil on your hands right after running the car because it can reach temperatures of 250 degrees Fahrenheit (210 degrees Celsius). Second, you’ll get a false reading if you check the oil after just running the engine. Since the oil won’t be entirely contained in the oil pan, it will still be present around the engine, pistons, etc. If you check at this point, the oil reservoir will be overfilled, which could result in an oil leak or engine damage.

But what if it’s too chilly outside? Start the engine and let it run for a while. Allow the oil to move around and warm up a bit. Restart the vehicle, let the oil settle for 5–10 minutes, and then take your test. Only in colder climates is this necessary because cold oil is denser and lowers the level on the oil dipstick.

How Long Should I Let The Engine Cool Before Checking Oil?

It is best to wait at least a few minutes after your car has been running before checking the oil level. The consensus is between 5 and 10 minutes after running, although there are conflicting views on the internet. Depending on the temperature of the engine, 1-2 minutes of cooling may be sufficient in some cases. The heat generated by the engine starts to dissipate after five minutes, and the oil starts to flow back into the oil pan. Personally, I think it’s best to wait for about 15 minutes if you’ve been traveling for a while (maybe even 20).

When it’s extremely cold outside, don’t wait too long to check the engine, but don’t check it right away either. A reading that is inaccurate as a result of doing so.

A Note on Oil Expansion

The amount that the oil expands when heated depends on the type of engine oil you use. For instance, the fastest rate of contraction and expansion is found in synthetic oil. Synthetic oil thickens up as the temperature drops. It flows more easily through the engine when it is warm.

Temperature variations have much less of an impact on conventional oil. There won’t be much of a difference between hot and cold readings if you are checking the level of regular oil.

An electronic oil level controller is installed in some newer car models. Only after the temperature has cooled and the car is parked on a flat surface will these controllers check the oil level. It is best to check if your car has one of these sensors before the oil has completely cooled.

Is It OK to Check Oil While The Engine is Hot?

There is no ideal temperature for checking the engine’s oil. The kind of vehicle, the weather outside, and the type of oil used must all be considered. Nevertheless, whether the oil is hot or cold, you can check it for most reasons and get roughly the same reading each time. Engine oil that is hot or warm will give a reliable reading.

You don’t need to let a car sit still for a long time to check the oil level. Allow the car to sit for five to fifteen minutes.

How to Check Engine Oil

Now that you are aware that you can check your engine oil whether it is hot or cold, let’s discuss how to do it correctly. New car owners frequently struggle with the fundamentals. The motor oil can be checked as follows:

Make sure your car is first parked on a level surface. The reading will most likely be off if the ground is uneven.

If you are inexperienced with doing so, only check the motor oil after the car has had time to cool down. If you’re not careful, the hot engine could scald you. Warm up the engine if the temperature outside is close to or below freezing. After the engine has warmed up, leave the car idle for ten to fifteen minutes before checking the oil.

Find the dipstick there after that. It is located in the engine compartment. Take the stick out. The dipstick should be cleaned with a fresh towel or rag. Take note of the oil’s color on the dipstick. Then, re-dip the stick into the oil reservoir, pressing it into place all the way; the last bit might encounter some resistance. Next, remove the oil dipstick. The oil level will be indicated between the minimum and maximum lines printed on the dipstick. You will need to add more oil if it falls below the minimum.

Check your owner’s manual for the best way to do this because many new cars have an oil level sensor that is controlled electronically.


Although opinions on how cool an engine needs to be to check the oil vary, it is generally agreed that waiting for 10 to 15 minutes after the car has warmed up is the best time to do so. Although you can measure the oil when it is cold, you shouldn’t when it is nearly freezing outside. You should be able to get an accurate reading if you check the oil level while it’s still slightly warm and on a flat surface.

Read more:

How to start a car after running out of oil?

Do Hybrid Cars Need Oil Changes?