How to check the oil when your car has no dipstick - image of a car computer

My car has no dipstick, how do I check the oil?

If your car is 10 years or newer, you might have had cause to ask yourself: my car has no dipstick, how the heck do I check the oil? If you don’t know how to do this, we’re here to help.

Why don’t new cars have a traditional dipstick?

Some car manufacturers have decided to remove the classic manual dipstick on their newer cars. Instead of a dipstick to check the oil, the oil levels have been integrated it into the car’s onboard computer instead.

Why would this happen? We don’t know for sure, but the likelihood is that it’s cheaper to make this part of the technology in the car than it is to manufacturer a dipstick and an entry point for it in the oil tank. So, economics!

How to check the oil when your car has no dipstick

Let’s go through the steps to check the oil when your car has no dipstick. To do this we’ll go into your car’s onboard computer.

The controls for the onboard computer will vary from car to car. So if you haven’t done this before, the first port of call is always your user manual.

In our example we’re referring to an Audi A6 and the same steps will apply to most Audis. The menus may vary on your particular vehicle, but this guide should serve as a good example to help steer your in the right direction.

1. Warm up the engine

Unlike a traditional dipstick level test, the engine needs to be warmed up before you’ll get an accurate read from your onboard computer. A 20 minute drive should get your engine to the right point to be able check the oil level.

2. Keep the engine running

The engine also needs to be running when the check takes place. Again, this is completely different from the manual dipstick test, where your engine needs to be cool and stationary for some time to allow the oil to settle.

3. Find the oil level in your car’s onboard computer

As we mentioned, the exact menu names may vary, but the general steps are pretty generic.

  1. Go into your onboard computer and find the “Car” or “Service” menu.
  2. Scroll until your find the “Levels” options.
  3. In there you should see “Oil Level”, select this option.
  4. This will show you a graphical digital dipstick in the Audi range of cars or equivalent in a different vehicle.
  • How to check your oil level through your car's onboard computer step 1
  • How to check your oil level through your car's onboard computer step 2
  • How to check your oil level through your car's onboard computer step 3
  • How to check your oil level through your car's onboard computer step 4
  • How to check your oil level through your car's onboard computer step 5

An oil level anywhere between half and full is acceptable. Don’t go below this if you’re planning a long journey. You should get in the habit of checking your oil levels regularly, but especially before a longer journey.

A cautionary tale about checking your oil regularly

The oil level system in modern cars is (usually) backed up by a warning light if the oil level drops too far. However, you should check your oil levels regularly to make ensure you don’t damage your engine by driving with oil levels that are too low.

A premium brand recently launched a vehicle with no dipstick, electronic checking, but no low oil warning light. The only way to know the oil level was to regularly go into the onboard computer and check manually.

This resulted in a number of owners seriously damaging the engine on their (very expensive!) new car. This resulted in a huge mechanical failure and extremely costly fix.

The newer version of the vehicle now has a low oil warning light. Live and learn!

VFR Motors is here to help

We know cars can be complicated, so we’re here to answer your questions. Give us a call if you need advice or support relating to cars. Anything else, you’re on your own. Sorry!

If you’re unsure whether your car needs an oil change, we can check this for you and also recommend the best oil for your vehicle.

Get in touch using our contact form or give us a call on either of these numbers: 0116 3190 118 or mobile 07850 881 911.

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