How Much Oil Does My Car Need?
For your car to keep running at peak performance, your engine needs the correct oil. Motor oil keeps the vital components of your engine lubricated and moving the way they need to. But, have you ever needed to change the oil and thought, “How much oil does my car need?”
That’s a common question if you’re DIYing your oil change and looking for the right oil type and quantity for your vehicle. Motor oil typically ranges between $2 and $100 depending on brand and amount.
The right amount of oil can impact the function of your engine and ensure it contributes to your car's overall health. We'll walk you through determining how much oil you'll need for your vehicle.
How Much Oil Does My Car Need?
Oil not only lubricates your engine’s parts—which keeps them from damaging each other— but also helps keep your engine cool. If your oil amount is too low, it could lead to issues in both these areas. Additionally, the oil must reach the top parts of your engine within seconds of your car starting to ensure those areas are lubricated and protected from damage.
However, if there’s too much oil, it can froth and not effectively lubricate the various engine parts. For this reason, it’s crucial to ensure you know how many quarts of oil are in your car and how much you need for cooling and lubrication.
Typically, engines need five to eight quarts of oil. However, the size of your engine can impact how much oil is required. For example, a 4-cylinder oil engine may require around five quarts of oil, whereas a 6-cylinder oil needs six quarts. Usually, the smaller the engine is, the less oil you’ll need for your vehicle.
How to Identify How Much Oil Your Car Needs
Here are a few ways to check to see how much oil your car needs.
1. Check the Owner’s Manual
The first place you want to check is your car’s owner’s manual. There, it will typically mention the type of oil you need, the necessary viscosity or thickness, when you need to change it, and the amount you’ll need. If you’ve misplaced your owner’s manual, you can go to your manufacturer’s website and search through their collection of manuals. Sometimes, you may need to sign-up on the site or type in your vehicle’s identification number to get it.
2. Checking Product Manual
The next material that you want to check is the product manual. The product can give you a lot of information about whether oil is best for your car. Motor oil typically shows two numbers, making it a multi-grade oil. The first number reveals the viscosity or thickness at lower temperatures. If the number is lower, oil moves well in colder weather.
The second number shows how well the oil performs in higher temperatures. In warmer temperatures, oils can become thinner. Therefore, finding oil that can still adequately lubricate your engine in hot climates is critical.
Knowing the grade of oil and combining this with the information in your owner’s manual can help you determine the amount of oil you need — especially in a specific climate.
What Type of Oil should you Choose?
The type of oil you should select will depend on the viscosity level needed for your engine, which can heavily rely on the climate (which impacts the oil flow). Your owner’s manual can provide additional insight into the type of viscosity you need for your engine.
Additionally, you should also take into account the type of oil. You can typically choose from:
- Conventional – This is made from refined oil and has a slower flow, making it ideal for lubrication in older engines and cars in colder weather.
- Synthetic – This type of oil is manufactured and typically includes special additives to aid in the oil’s flow and cleaning abilities. Synthetic oil is usually ideal for cars that engage in activity that stresses the engine and are in areas with extreme temperatures.
- High-mileage oil – For cars over 75,000 miles, high mileage oil is suggested as it can help break apart sludge, slow oil loss, and improve oil efficiency.
In addition to the climate, type of engine, and needed viscosity, your driving patterns will also help you determine the type of oil you choose. If you use your vehicle for work like towing or find yourself in a lot of start-and-stop traffic, you may want to consider synthetic oil.
Conventional may be the best choice if you have an older engine or a smoother commute. If you’re DIYing your oil changes, check out products like STP Pro Formula Engine Oil Conventional 5W-30 and Mobil 1 Advanced Engine Oil Full Synthetic 5W-30. Lastly, don’t forget to have a plan to recycle your oil once you complete the oil change.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can consult your car’s owner’s manual or visit the manufacturer’s website to research the amount of motor oil needed for your engine.
Typically, cars require between 4.7 and 7.5 liters of motor oil, but each engine is different, so it’s best to look at your owner’s manual.
Most cars take between five and eight quarts, but the exact number will depend on your engine size.
A 4-cylinder engine typically takes five quarts of oil.
Dipsticks typically have two lines on them. One is the minimum level, and the other is the full level. Your oil should be in between these two markings.
Yes, too much oil can damage your engine. Excessive pressure can build up inside the crankcase, causing seals to leak or blow out.