Save money and check oil before going on holiday

Posted on August 6th, 2019 by Rob Marshall

Save money and check oil before going on holiday

Contrary to popular belief, all engines consume oil, even when in good condition; the rate at which they do so varies, however. The result is that the oil level drops within the sump. Yet, providing that it does not fall below the ‘minimum’ mark on the dipstick, engine damage is unlikely to occur.

Not every car warns the driver of a low oil level. Therefore, verify it by using either the dipstick, or, where one is not present, consult the car’s computer. Should you be unsure, check your handbook for advice.


Keeping cool

Apart from lubrication, engine oil provides a critical cooling function, by moving heat around the engine, so that it can be dissipated. Therefore, running an oil level that is close to (or on/below) the minimum dipstick mark is depriving the engine of cooling capacity, which could either accelerate wear, or even ruin the engine. The situation is not helped, by some models having a fairly modest sump size and relatively few cars possess an oil temperature gauge.

We will stop short of recommending you to fill your car’s sump to the ‘maximum’ mark on the dipstick, because certain diesel models need some spare capacity. This is because, on certain models, diesel fuel becomes added to the oil by design, thus raising the sump level. Therefore, brimming the engine to the top dipstick mark risks removing this reserve and the engine can suffer severe damage, by being run with elevated sump levels.


Before the holiday trip

This advice is especially pertinent, because oil consumption tends to be at its highest, when engine oil is at its hottest. Engine oil tends to reach peak temperatures on high speed runs, especially in hot weather and when laden fully with passengers and/or luggage.

Therefore, check your oil level before any extended journey. Should you be unsure about the appropriate level, have the oil change carried-out, where your garage (or you) can pour-in the precise amount of fresh lubricant.


Forecourt oils

A further issue involves engine oils available at petrol forecourts on main roads and motorways. While there are no concerns regarding branded oils’ quality, they tend to be premium-priced, compared to oils that are sourced from a motor accessory shop. Additionally, newer cars are very exacting about their oil specifications; most of them have manufacturer-specific requirements. Therefore, it is best to purchase any oil that you may need in advance, which you know is to the correct specification, rather than being faced with an emergency scenario that forces you to use an oil that is inappropriate for your car.


To find out which oil your vehicle accepts, consult your handbook and type your registration number into this link.


Watch GEM’s ‘How to’ video on how to check your oil levels at