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How To Check Engine Oil?

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obviously i don't know a lot about cars, but am making an effort to become informed. went to check engine oil this AM...opened the cap marked 'engine oil' but no dipstick was attached to cap. how do i check the oil? am concerned, as had valve cover gasket seal replaced last monday, and noticed yesterday they may have forgotten to top off the coolant (it's 1/2" below the minimum 'cold' mark on the tank that stores the coolant). i've never seen the coolant low before, so assume that's related to the recent repair. now am wondering of the engine oil was properly replaced. how do i check this? please advise! thanks to you all... p.s. car was cold and turned off when i opened the engine oil cap. the cap was off for maybe 1" or less. i was v. careful not to let anything -- debris, etc. get in there.

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O K. You cannot check the oil by removing the oil cap. There is a dipstick there on the left side of the engine that you pull out. If I recall, it is yellow. Park the car on the level, with the engine off.

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Also bear in mind that the oil should be checked when the engine is cool and it hasn't been driven in a while. It takes the oil some time to drain back into the oil pan so if you check it right after turning the car off it will appear low when it really isn't.

Pull the dipstick out, wipe it with a paper towel and put it back in. Then pull it out again and read the level.

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I swear I do not see any dipstick...looked all over the left side...nothing brightly colored in any hue. I've seen dipsticks before (on older cars), so it's not like I don't have any idea what I am looking for. "Mechanic" obvioiusly not a career path for me. I can have Lexus check it tomorrow when I take it back to have them top off the coolant (and show me where the dipstick is). Sheesh. It was too cold to stand around looking for it. Even in LA (cold). Thanks all, for the feedback.

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Hang on lemme see if I can find where it is for you...

Here's a photo of the engine (courtesy of vbdenny):

Lexus_Eng.jpg

Now, as you look next to the oil filler cap you'll see the rectangular handle, says "Engine Oil" on it. This is the dipstick. The similar handle above the oil dipstick is the transmission dipstick.

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In this photo the red circle outlines the oil dipstick, the blue circle outlines the transmission dipstick/fill neck.

Lexus_Eng_001.jpg

Don't get frustrated, nobody is born with this knowledge but it important to know as a car owner ;)

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That is Amazing!! Pics with circles. Thanks!! I'll try again tomorrow. Yes, I decided it's time to learn at least some of the basics, and there's no reason I can't check the fluids now and then to make sure I don't have milky engine oil or other signs of trouble (i've been reading on the web -- found a really good article explaining what to look for in fluids and what it --probably--means, i.e., doing the paper towel drip test with the ATF fluid and what it means if it is black and the spot doesn't spread, etc.). So, even though I have the car maintained regularly, etc. sometimes it's 6 months before it's due for a checkup. Meanwhile, stuff can 'go' on my 10 y/o car. If I'd been looking under the hood at least occasionally, I would have seen the soot all over the engine and inside of the hood an known something was wrong -- wouldn't have known it was a valve gasket cover seal, but would have known enough to take it in the shop. So, from here on out, at least I can check the fluids and look things over. Tx again...

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I don't think you'd known about the valve gasket issue. there are somethings we pick up. It took me a racing school to learn a lot about the dynamics of cars, driving and how it all works. You won't be in the same class as some of us, but starting slow is a good idea.

pop quiz: what is the correct tire pressure for your LS400? If you don't know the answer to that, perhaps you should read your owners manual. That will teach you plenty.

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