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By Bob Caffee
I was thinking the other day about the basics of truck prepping. Very basic things we all take for granted. Checking the oil in the engine is one of the basics we all should know how to do. It’s the same for every vehicle that has a dipstick. Sometimes just finding the dipstick can be a challenge especially on autos. Truck engine oil dipsticks are usually very “in your face”, most have a yellow handle on the left side of the truck but I have seen them on the right side.
The object is to visually see how much oil is in the engine crankcase. The vehicle should be on as level ground as you can find. The engine must be stopped, not running, for a few minutes. This will allow the oil that is dispersed throughout the engine to drain back into the oil pan (or oil sump). Once the oil is back in the pan we can proceed with checking the oil level.
Gloves and a clean rag will be needed. After opening the hood, find the dipstick handle. Make sure there is no dirt or other debris that can get into the dipstick tube by wiping around the base of the handle where it fits into the tube. Once you are satisfied that no dirt will enter the tube, grab the dipstick handle and gently pull the dipstick out of the tube. It could be three feet long or longer. I use my right hand to grab the handle and, with the rag in my left hand, I guide the dipstick out of the tube, cleaning it on the way out. I fully wipe the oil off the stick because the oil has been splashing around in the engine and it will show way up on the stick.
Using both hands, one to guide the other to push, fully reinsert the dipstick into the dipstick tube. Be careful not to bend the stick on the way in. Once fully inserted, pull it back out – this time you will be watching for the end of the stick. Do not wipe the stick fully this time. Towards the end of the stick are markings that indicate full and add. Look at the stick closely; the oil will probably be black or very dark. You should be able to see the level.
I prefer to not add any oil until the oil is down to or just below the add line. Typical add line shows one gallon is needed. If the oil shows way over the full line, you may have a problem and you should seek professional advice.
Should you do your check and all looks good, wipe off the stick and reinsert into the tube, make sure it is seated fully. Close and latch the hood and you are ready to roll.