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How To: Make sense of your oil dipstick

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Carolyn
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How To: Make sense of your oil dipstick

Postby Carolyn » Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:03 pm

Making sense of the dipstick

Let's face it. The dipstick in the Roadster is rubbish to read. The best method is to check the oil level first thing in the morning (before you start the car) with the car on the flat. Why is this the case?

As soon as the engine is started, oil is splashed up the dipstick tube, ruining any chance of getting an accurate reading. The oil in the tube and higher on the dipstick will drain off overnight, hence 'do it first thing in the morning before you start the car'. The 'on the flat bit' is simply because a significant slope will make a massive difference to the oil level where the dipstick is (on the very side of the sump).

Even when you've followed all that, modern transparent oils don't show up well on the textured surface of the dipstick end. Quite a few have resorted to drilling small holes through the dipstick end. The oil will hang up in the holes, making reading easier. Unfortunately the dipstick end is poor quality cast aluminium. The disptick tube follows a tortuous path from the front top to the back bottom of the engine, exposing the tip to bending stresses that will eventually result in snapping the drilled tip in half.

Small notches filed into the side of the tip with a triangular needle file, will also hold oil to give an indication. Providing the notches are not filed too deep, the strength of the tip will not be significantly affected.
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This is all very well, until you want to check the oil during a journey or later in the day after the engine has run. It can be done!

Pull the dipstick and wipe the tip clean. Re-insert the dipstick but only as far as the start of the rubber seal (see pic).
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Pull the dipstick back and forth a few inches several times. Pull the dispstick out and wipe it clean. Repeat the process until the dipstick comes out with no oil on it. (Takes four or five goes). Push the dipstick all the way in, rotate through 180 degrees and pull it straight out. You will now have an accurate reading.

The textured portion of the tip reads approximately 1 liter from top to bottom.
Ignorance is somebody else not knowing that which I learned yesterday

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