I have heard that oil level should be checked regularly on fill-ups (every second fill-up or so). However, on my car (a 2016 Toyota RAV4 hybrid), the oil level was full when I bought the car as new. It is still after 9000 km full, i.e. there doesn't seem to be any visible oil consumption. I drive about 15000 km per year, and the service interval is year or 15000km whichever is less. The situation seems to be even better than in my 2011 Toyota Yaris which consumed oil, but the 1.5 liter difference between high and low marks meant I never actually had to add any oil.

How often should I check the oil level in these circumstances? As far as I know, the engine doesn't have an oil level sensor (but it does have an oil pressure sensor). I think the Toyota engineers thought that if they design an engine that doesn't consume any visible amounts of oil, they can avoid the cost of an oil level sensor. So, on one hand, it's up to me to check the oil level. On the other hand, the oil level just doesn't seem to go down.

Is it safe to check the oil level twice per year every time I change the tyres (have to use winter tyres at these latitudes)? That means the longest interval between oil level checks would be 7500 km / half a year. This doesn't mean that if the engine starts to consume visible amounts of oil that I would still continue to use this same interval; I will in this case make the checks more frequent.

Is it possible that due to some event the engine would start to suddenly consume oil? Or can I rely on the theory that if the engine seems to consistently have a zero oil consumption, that it will continue to have a zero oil consumption in the future? Of course, if the engine needs any overhaul (unlikely), I will start to monitor the oil consumption situation regularly after the overhaul.

2 Answers 2


One time a week as you hand wash your car all should be checked. Oil water lights tires all. For normal city driving. If on dirt roads at the start & finish of each day. More if you run over a rock or down brush. After each river ford. Each time you fill up if buying gas from 1 liter bottles in the backcountry were found.

  • Heck, I don't even fill up my car once a week (I drive so little that once every two weeks fill-up suffices). But I'll consider checking the oil when washing the car. Which for me happens perhaps once every two months during the summertime when the car doesn't get that dirty.
    – juhist
    Jul 16, 2017 at 9:30

Typically new vehicles will burn some oil, up to a quart every 1,500 miles. But on a hybrid the engine will not run all the time. My suggestion is to check the oil on the next fill up. And compare to you other checks. If your not burning/leaking oil then make adjustments as needed. If checking once a month and all is good. Go with that.

  • Can you please explain why new vechiles burn oil
    – method
    Jul 15, 2017 at 21:53
  • Yeah, SOME vehicles will burn some oil during a break in period. 5k-10kmiles. Some manufactures consider this normal. If you think your vehicle is burning too much oil you can have them do an oil consumption test. On the other hand I have a 3yr old vehicle that I bought new, never burned any oil.
    – cano
    Jul 15, 2017 at 22:06
  • @method I have asked that already: mechanics.stackexchange.com/questions/41602/…
    – juhist
    Jul 16, 2017 at 9:56

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