How Much Oil Does My Car Hold

Oil to motor vehicles is like blood to humans. It lubricates important engine parts, helps prevent overheating in the engine by reducing friction between rubbing parts. Modern vehicles are equipped with an oil cooler with other similar modifications that further reduce heat. Without oil, the propulsion unit wouldn’t work properly although too much oil is also as bad as no oil.

Changing vehicle oil according to maintenance schedule has positive effects on the vehicle. As oil stays in the engine, it loses its thickness which makes it less effective as a lubricant.

How Engine Size Determines Oil Usage

About 5 to 8 quarts of oil are required by most engines depending on the engine size. Smaller engines require less volume of oil to function while bigger engines require bigger volumes.

  • A 4-cylinder engine requires approximately 3.5 – 4.5 quarts of oil.
  • A 6-cylinder engine requires about 4.5 – 5.5 quarts of oil.
  • An 8-cylinder engine requires about 5.5 – 7.5 quarts of oil due to its size.

Resources like the owner’s manual are made available to guide a vehicle owner in knowing the right oil capacity of their engine. You can also find this information on the manufacturer’s website. When you open the website, find the vehicle owners section and search for this information there.

Other online resources where the list of oil and fluid capacities of different makes and models of cars and trucks are listed, can also guide you.

Selecting The Right Engine Oil

You need to consider certain things when selecting an oil for your vehicle. First of all the oil viscosity is signified by a number next to the letter W followed by another number. The first number denotes the oil flow at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, the W symbolizes winter, and the two numbers appearing after W represents the oil’s viscosity level when measured at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

The smaller the number before W, the easier the engine freezes in winter. On the vehicle owner’s manual, you will find the best range of oil viscosity levels suitable for your vehicle.

As a vehicle owner, you have the choice of choosing between conventional and synthetic motor oil. Conventional oils are suitable for car owners who change their car oil frequently while synthetic oils are handier because they are manufactured with special additives that help remove deposits and allow the oil to flow seamlessly at lower temperatures and retain viscosity at higher temperatures.

Vehicle owners can also choose to use a high-mileage oil for vehicles over 75,000 miles. Oils designed for high-mileage contain conditioners that help expand the internal engine seals and as well increase the flexibility of the seals.

Signs Requesting An Engine Oil Change

When the following signs begin to manifest, know that your vehicle engine oil is due for change:

  • The oil light somewhere on the dashboard can come on, showing low oil levels in the vehicle. You can either use the help of a mechanic or top up the oil yourself.
  • When the oil level in a vehicle gets low, the engine runs roughly. Most times, the lifters are first affected as it starts to stick as deposits accumulate. The help of a mechanic is needed in this situation to help get rid of the deposits and end the problem.
  • For vehicles equipped with an oil pressure gauge, it registers low readings indicating low oil level.

What Happens If Oil Level Is Too Low

Most vehicles can operate on a quart low on oil for a short period without any stern consequences but have it in mind that startup is the most serious period for any engine. Motor oil must go all the way up to the upper-end components (timing chain, valves, lifters, cam bearings, cam) within the first two seconds of ignition. When the volume of oil in the crankcase is low, it will find it very difficult to reach the crucial parts swiftly.

What Happens if Oil Level Is Too High

When too much oil is contained in the crankcase, the oil pump and crankshaft aerate it and whip it into a froth. All the moving parts in the engine turn into an oil pump, while the opening for the oil pump will be picking up immense air with oil. Foam increases heat which makes the oil chemically break down faster.

Final Note

If you still don’t know how much oil your car engine needs, just make sure that when next you are changing or filling it, the oil level on the dipstick should be between “add one qt” and “full”. Always check your oil at least twice a month to avoid running low on oil. Park the car at a flat and level surface to get the best reading.


AMSOIL (2021, 12 8). Retrieved from AMSOIL CORPORATION:

Mechanic (2015, 11 18). Your Mechanic Blog Post. Retrieved from

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