Why is Oil not Sticking to the Dipstick?

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Having low oil levels, a light oil mixture, a slick dipstick, or a new car are reasons why your oil is not sticking onto the dipstick.

One common issue that many car owners face is the problem of oil not sticking to the dipstick. If you’re new to auto maintenance and don’t know exactly what that means, it’s recommended that car owners monitor the oil in their engines using a dipstick anywhere from once a week to once a month, depending on how often you drive. 

Using a dipstick to check on your engine can help you detect any issues with your car’s fluids quickly and avoid expensive repairs, as well as let you know when your car is in need of an oil change. Checking your engine’s oil levels is essential to thorough car maintenance. And not only that, but you should also know the best quality items for your car—

Back on topic, dipsticks aren’t always the most straightforward thing to use, and many people find that it’s difficult to get the oil to stick to the dipstick to get an accurate reading. 

It can be perplexing if you’ve just gotten an oil change. Or if you know that the oil levels in your engine are far from zero. There is a small chance that your engine could be leaking or using an excessive amount of oil. 

Do not worry about that as there are many less detrimental factors that could also be causing the issue. If you’re having trouble getting oil to stick to the dipstick, stay tuned because we’re going to be going over common causes and solutions to this problem so many car owners face.

Oil Not Sticking Dipstick Basics

While there are many possible reasons that oil isn’t sticking to your dipstick, it’s good to go over the simplest explanations first, as often people are able to solve this problem with a quick fix. 

The first thing that you should do is make sure you’re using the correct technique to measure the oil in your vehicle in the first place. To check your engine oil levels with a dipstick, first, make sure your car is on level ground and has been fully turned off for at least ten to fifteen minutes. Then, locate the dipstick. 

While this is different in every car, most vehicles have the dipstick placed on the left side of the engine with a yellow or orange handle to make it easier to spot. Once you’ve located the dipstick, pull it out of the engine and use a cloth to wipe off any excess oil from the end. 

Finally, to check the oil levels for the engine, insert the dipstick back into its slot carefully and pull it back out with a smooth motion. If all has gone correctly, the dipstick should now be coated in oil and you should be able to read whether your engine’s oil levels are high, low, or just right.

If you’ve followed the proper procedure outlined above and the oil is still not sticking to the dipstick, don’t fret! There are many more simple explanations for why this problem may be occurring, and there still may be a relatively quick fix to help you get a good reading on the oil levels in your car.

Does Oil Temperature Matter?

One of the main things that may be factoring into whether you can get a good dipstick reading is the temperature of the oil in your engine. You might have noticed that in most instructions for checking your dipstick readings, they specify that the car should have been turned off for at least fifteen minutes or left overnight. 

This is because the temperature of the oil in your engine could be one of the main factors causing oil not to stick to your dipstick. It is recommended that engine oil should be measured when the temperature is warm or cold, but never hot. If you’re having some issues with oil sticking to your dipstick, chances are you need to be a little more precise than that.

Because oil behaves differently when hot, warm, and cold, measuring the oil in your car at different temperatures will cause different results. If the oil on the dipstick is too hot, you can risk burning yourself while performing the check, and the oil will likely be too runny to adhere to the dipstick and give you an accurate reading. 

Many people prefer to check their oil when their car has been turned off for about fifteen minutes, and the oil is warm. While this technique works very well for many engines and brands of oil, it could be the culprit if your oil still isn’t sticking. This is because cold oil is by far the best at sticking to dipsticks. 

If the type of oil you’re using is presenting some difficulty with getting a good dipstick reading, try completely cooling off your engine to see if that resolves the issue.

Oil Not Sticking Dipstick Common Causes

If you’ve made sure you’re checking your dipstick correctly and attempted with varying temperatures of oil, there are still several other common causes for oil not sticking to the dipstick. While some of these might warrant a trip to the mechanic, many others are still relatively innocuous and just require a quick fix. Some common causes for this problem include:

  • Low Oil Level – one reason you might not be seeing oil on the dipstick is that there isn’t much in there at all! If you haven’t gotten an oil change in a while, try checking the dipstick after some oil has been added and see if that was the issue. If the dipstick reading is still dry after adding oil, it’s possible that the engine is leaking, and you should take it to a mechanic to get it checked out.
  • Oil is Too Light – another reason many people think they aren’t seeing any oil on the dipstick is because the oil is much lighter in color than they’re used to. The oil on your dipstick should appear amber, brown, or black. If the oil is much lighter in color, it might be a sign that coolant is leaking into your engine, so you should get your vehicle to a mechanic as soon as possible.
  • Your Dipstick is Too Slick – another common culprit of oil not sticking to the dipstick is that the dipstick is too slick. Because the surface tension and viscosity vary among different types of oil, the oil used in your engine might not be able to stick to the slick metal surface of the dipstick. Here is a solution— try roughing up the surface of your dipstick with some 300-grit sandpaper and see if that helps!
  • You Have a Newer Vehicle – some newer vehicles have electronic oil level controllers that won’t let you measure oil unless the car is on a flat surface and the oil is warm. If your car has an electronic oil level controller, this could be what’s tripping you up.

Wrapping It Up

Overall, if you’re having issues getting oil to stick to your dipstick, don’t panic! There are many simple assessments you can do at home to determine whether your car needs a visit to the mechanic. 

Regularly checking your engine’s oil levels is super important for keeping car maintenance costs down, and some auto enthusiasts who use their vehicles often prefer to check their levels more than once a week. 

While dipsticks can be tricky, you now know about the common issues that can occur with them and have the knowledge to assess the situation and solve the problem! 

Along with solving this issue, here are some other common issues you should be aware of—

  1. Dodge Charger Hood Latch Problems
  2. Big Cam Brake Problems
  3. Dodge Charger Interior Lights Issues

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