Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post. At no cost to you, I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

How Long To Let Engine Cool Before Adding Oil?

Adding oil to your car is an essential part of routine maintenance, but it’s important that you wait properly for your engine to cool before doing so. Overheating and hot motors can cause significant damage and even fires if not handled correctly. In order to keep yourself safe, as well as protect the longevity of your vehicle’s motor, get informed on how long to let engine cool before adding oil.

Read this comprehensive guide to learn all about the potential dangers, suggested waiting times, and other valuable details surrounding automotive oil changes!

How Long Should You Let Your Engine Rest Before Adding Oil?

To ensure accurate oil level measurements and safer engine handling, it is recommended to wait at least 20 minutes before checking or adding oil. This waiting period allows the oil to settle back into the sump, and the engine to cool down, reducing the risk of burns from hot surfaces or scalding oil.

What happens if you add oil while the engine is still hot?


The heat from the cylinder head, engine block, and various pipes around the engine can cause burns to your hands or arms if touched. When you’re forced to get near these hot surfaces to add oil, you increase the risk of getting burned.

Fire hazard

Spilling oil on hot surfaces poses a fire hazard that can quickly turn into a dangerous situation. If the spilled oil ignites, it can cause a fire that can spread rapidly, putting you and your vehicle at risk.

Inaccurate oil level readings

False oil level readings are likely to occur when you check the dipstick after adding oil while the engine is still hot. The oil will expand, making it more difficult to settle in the oil pan, leading to inaccurate readings. This can cause you to overfill or underfill the engine with oil, which can cause damage to the engine.

What is the ideal temperature to add oil?

How Long To Let Engine Cool Before Adding Oil (1)
How Long To Let Engine Cool Before Adding Oil (1)

A conventional motor oil of good quality can hold up against oil sump temperatures of up to 250 degrees. However, exceeding 275 degrees can cause the oil to start breaking down, leading to potential engine damage. This is why it’s recommended to aim for a temperature range of 230 to 260 degrees

Best Practices for Checking and Adding Oil

Maintaining the optimal oil levels in your engine is crucial for its performance and lifespan. Follow these simple yet crucial steps to ensure you do it right:

Step 1: Park on level ground and let it cool

To start, find a flat surface to park your engine and wait at least 20 minutes to cool down.

Step 2: Clean the dipstick

Once it’s cooled, locate the dipstick and pull it out. Give it a wipe to make sure it’s clean and ready for action.

Step 3: Check the oil level

Fully reinsert the dipstick into the tube, then take it out again to see where the oil level is. Ideally, it should be between the minimum and maximum marks on the dipstick. If it’s below the minimum, it’s time to add some oil.

Step 4: Choose the right oil

To determine the correct oil for your engine, consult the owner’s manual or the dipstick itself. Consider factors like performance, efficiency, price, and durability when making your choice. If you’re using multi-grade oil, opt for a lower winter viscosity number and a higher summer viscosity number.

Step 5: Add oil safely

Find the oil filler cap and remove it. Place a clean funnel in the opening and start pouring the oil in slowly. Keep an eye on the level each time you add more to prevent overfilling. Once you’re done, remove the funnel and tighten the oil filler cap securely.

FAQs about How Long To Let Engine Cool Before Adding Oil

How Long After Driving Can I Add Oil?

For best results, it is recommended to wait at least 20 minutes after driving before adding oil. This allows the engine to cool down and ensures accurate measurements when checking the dipstick.

Is it better to add oil to a hot or cold engine?

While it may seem counterintuitive, most oil experts recommend changing oil while it’s still hot. This is because hot oil flows more freely and is easier to drain from the engine.

Are there any other precautions I should take when adding oil?

When changing or adding oil, always make sure that you are wearing protective gear like goggles and gloves in case of spills or splashes. Additionally, it’s important to check your oil filter to ensure that it is clean and in good condition before adding new oil.

Related: How To Check Your Oil

Can you add cold engine oil to hot oil?

Yes, cold oil can be added to hot oil in your engine, but it’s not recommended.

Can you put new oil on top of old oil?

While this may seem like a simple solution, it’s important to understand the potential risks involved. Mixing new and old oil can lead to contamination or the buildup of impurities in your engine.


Taking care of your car’s engine is essential for safe driving, as well as avoiding costly repairs. Remember to always let your engine cool before adding more oil and to use protective gear when changing it out. With this information in mind, you’ll be equipped with knowledge on how long to let engine cool before adding oil!

We hope this guide has been helpful in giving you a better understanding of best practices for automotive maintenance. In addition to knowing how long to let engine cool before adding oil, remember to check all fluids regularly and get regular tune-ups. Doing so will help keep your car running smoothly for many miles down the road!

Timothy Ballard

I’m Timothy Ballard, owner of a used car dealership in Springfield. I love just about everything automotive, but I have a special place in my heart for trucks. I’m an ASE Certified Master Technician, so I know my way around a car. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling with my family and hiking new trails.

1 thought on “How Long To Let Engine Cool Before Adding Oil?”

  1. To ensure optimal oil drainage, it is crucial to allow your engine to cool down completely. It is advisable to wait for a minimum of 20 minutes, allowing ample time for the oil to fully drain back into the sump.


Leave a Comment