My dipstick is reading lopsided no matter how many wipe, insert, wait and reads I do. On the front side the level is in the cross hatch and halfway up one side of the stick. The back side shows just above the 1st hole(nearest the bottom end of the stick). Can anyone tell me which side to follow? I really don't want to overfill. Thx for any help.

  • Thank you for all the answers! I did however lose my temper with it. Am getting an oil change, and will check the fool thing after I get home to see the read after use and a 10 min cool down.
    – ADickens
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 19:29
  • I always go with the cross hatch since it provides the metric to go by. However I just realized an interesting related question, how do you insert the dipstick into the dipstick tube? Cross hatch to the front or rear of the vehicle? I'll check mine out and see if there's an orientation to it next time.
    – jxramos
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 19:40
  • Mine only goes one way. With the cross-hatched pointing out toward the passenger side Tire.
    – ADickens
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 19:43

4 Answers 4


The dipstick isn't a scientifically precise measuring instrument. If you're between the marks, you're good. Given a 5 qt capacity, 4.9 qts vs 5.1 qts will have no consequence for your engine.

Remove the stick, wipe, fully reinsert, remove and observe.


So what I would do is to add the right amount of oil after an oil change and see where it reads on your dipstick. It may be that the way the dipstick moves through the tube causes the oil to get smeared on one side causing it to read low (since you're pulling the dipstick up as you take it out to read).


You should always go by the lower side as the higher side is usually residue on your dipstick tube that the dipstick was laying in. The reason this happens is when you remove the dipstick to wipe it off it will leave some oil in the tube. When you reinsert it this will put oil on the dipstick usually giving you a high reading on one edge of the stick and sometimes on one face of the stick.

One way to make sure is take an air compressor and blast some air down the dipstick tube then check it. First pull the dipstick and wipe it off, then blast compressed air down the tube. Reinstert the dipstick and pull it back out again and see what the reading is.


I usually go by the higher side. As long as they are both in the range, it should be fine.

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