Engine Oil Dipstick Hard to Read: Tips & Tricks

If you are a car owner, then dipstick should be very well known to you. Without this element, you can’t measure your current oil level or status easily. But if the dipstick is hard to read, then?

engine oil dipstick hard to read

Let’s discuss about about this critical important issue.

What is oil dipstick:

It is a measuring rod that is used to check any liquid status or level by dipping into the liquid. it has indicator points of minimum oil level & maximum oil level, the difference between the minimum point and maximum point is normally 1 quart of oil. The minimum point level is the safe oil level of an engine. The Dipstick location in the car engine may differ, but the basic look or function of the oil dipstick is the same for all.

Engine oil dipstick how to read:

Place the vehicle in the parking or any where else in straight position so that car is parallel to floor. Then take the dipstick in to engine oil. If the oil level is between minimum & maximum point then you have understand that your car engine oil level is ok

How to make a dipstick easier to read:

Sometimes your car oil dipstick is hard to read, its has many reasons like

  • Low Oil level
  • Too thin oil
  • No oil in the chamber
  • The vehicle is not parallel or perfectly parked

So first you have to find out, what is the reason behind the oil not showing in the dipstick. If no oil in the dipstick then most probably the oil level is low or no oil in the chamber, then you have to put engine oil in the car up to the perfect level.

Read also: Putting oil in a car while the engine is hot

If the oil is too thin, you should check your manufacturer’s recommendation for the recommended grade or brand. Some oil from a poor brand may thin too much, so you should try to use the right oil from the right brand & grade.

Read also: Does Oil brand matter?

After solving these issues, you may again feel that your oil dipstick is hard to read. In especially Honda dipstick is hard to read or the Toyota dipstick is hard to read! These are very common problems in engine oil checking. But no worries! We have tips to make a dipstick easier to read. Let’s see the steps:

  • First of all don’t forget to keep your vehicle make parallel to the floor while parking so that the oil dipstick can check the oil perfectly.
  • After shutdown of the engine you have to wait 10-15 minutes for the engine to become cooldown.
  • Then take a dipstick & dipped it into oil after cleaning, now come to the main point!
  • If your engine oil dipstick is hard to read then place it on a clean white tissue paper. Hopefully, now you will able to understand the oil color & level from the tissue paper oil level sign just like the picture below
How to make a dipstick easier to read
  • Another tip for you if your engine oil dipstick is hard to read is to add sand with the oil dipstick, it will make it easier to read the oil level. And you can paint the blank dipstick with a dark color to visualize the oil color because dark color will contrast with the light color of the oil and make visible the oil color better than previous.

No oil on dipstick but no leak:

Sometimes you may see some strange things like oil not showing on the dipstick. But after checking the car’s external side or parking area you confirmed that there is no leak in the car. That means no oil on the dipstick but no leak. The most probable reason for no oil on the dipstick but no leak would make worried you. Because in most cases this happens due to oil burning. Oil burning means oil coming or seeping from the piston or cylinder wall and burning with fuel in the engine. White or different smoke from the exhaust is the main symptom of this, so first of all, you should check the smoke if you face the problem of no oil on the dipstick but no leak.

Now let’s see the common reasons for internal oil burning:

  • Bad PCV valve
  • Worn out Piston rings or wall
  • Faculty valve seal

So please check these immediately, hopefully, you will be able to solve the issue.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Is it OK to have oil slightly above the full line?

Yes, if the dipstick oil level is slightly above the full line, no reason to worry, but it would be a sign of oil foaming. So please check the oil grade & specification.

Q. Should you check the oil dipstick in hot or cold?

No, for checking the oil level or status by oil dipstick you need to wait until after the engine is off to become the engine cool down. And you should not check the oil if oil would be too much cold.

Q. Is it easy to replace the oil dipstick?

Yes! Like other mechanical tools of a car, you can easily change or get a new oil dipstick according to your car model.

Is it OK to have oil slightly above the full line


If no oil on the dipstick or the engine oil dipstick is hard to read don’t get worried. It’s very simple for a car engine. Just check the engine oil & oil dipstick. If this article can’t help to get rid of this problem, it is better to talk to an authorized car mechanic.


Emon is Lubricants specialist who studied on Petroleum Engineering in UAE. He have more than 10 years experience on different kinds of lubrication including automobile troubleshooting.