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4. Engine Oil Change

The engine oil level is checked with a dipstick, located in the engine block behind the alternator. To check the level, pull out the dipstick, wipe it clean, reinsert it all the way, and withdraw it again. The oil level is correct if it is between the two marks near the end of the stick. The location of the dipstick and the level marks are shown in Fig. 4-1. The upper (max) mark indicates full, the highest acceptable oil level. The lower mark (min) indicates the minimum acceptable level. There are two types of dipstick. On the earlier round version, the difference between the marks is approximately 1 liter (1 US qt.). On the later flat version (1989 and later models), the difference between the marks is approximately 0.75 liter (.79 US qt.).

Fig. 4-1. Engine oil dipstick location in engine compartment. Withdraw in direction of arrow. Inset shows maximum (max) and minimum (min) marks on dipstick used in determining correct oil level.

Always check the oil with the car on a level surface, after the engine has been stopped for at least a few minutes. For the most accurate check, especially on 16-valve engines, wait a few hours or overnight.

Add oil through the filler cap on the top of the cylinder head cover shown in Fig. 4-2. Add only the amount needed to bring the oil level to the "max" mark on the dipstick, using an oil of the correct viscosity and grade as described above in Engine Oil. Too much oil is just as harmful as too little.

Fig. 4-2. Location of oil filler cap. Remove and install by turning (arrows). 16-valve engine (not shown) is similar.

The amount of oil which needs to be added between oil changes varies from one engine to another. Generally, a new engine or an engine operated routinely at high speeds will consume more oil. It is helpful to become familiar with the rate at which a particular engine requires oil. A sudden increase may be an early warning of engine mechanical problems.

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