I have changed the oil multiple times on two different Toyotas. Each time when I check oil level at the end, it's always above the full line on the stick. I understand that it's impossible to drain the oil 100% so I try to compensate by adding less oil than what the manual recommends. This does not seem to work.

For example, the manual says 4.2qt for oil change and filter. I added 3.5qt. The level still reads above full line. What am I missing?

  • are you changing the filter as well?
    – Tiger Guy
    Commented May 25, 2023 at 14:31
  • @TigerGuy yes..
    – findwindow
    Commented May 26, 2023 at 18:02

1 Answer 1


More than likely you're not reading the level of the oil correctly. There might be a few of reasons for this.

  • If you aren't parking your car on level ground, this could throw off your reading.
  • If you don't pull, wipe, stick, pull, then read, you may have excess oil on the dipstick which is giving you a false reading.
  • I've seen on some dipsticks where one side of the dipstick will have a funky reading (too high, basically) and the other side will show the actual amount. This occurs (to my understanding) because the dipstick might be picking up residual oil left in the dipstick tube.

Besides reading the dipstick correctly, something you can try:

  • Instead of adding "3.5 quarts", sneak up on the oil level until it reads full. This might take you several "top offs" to get it right, but should get you to the correct fill level.
  • Ensure you are reading the oil level for the final time after you have ran the engine. Get what you believe is the proper amount into the engine, then run the engine for several minutes. When the new oil is fully circulated, then let the engine sit for a few minutes to let the oil drain back into the sump, then pull the dipstick (as I've stated above) and check the level.
  • The garage isn't 100% level but it's not an incline that would throw off the reading (<1% incline). I do those exact steps to check and I do check both sides. The issue with topping off slowly and running engine then checking is risking not having enough oil which I think may have happened the last time. But that doesn't answer the question. I shouldn't have to top off multiple times. The math doesn't make sense.
    – findwindow
    Commented May 24, 2023 at 20:10
  • 1
    To add 3.5qt and have it be above full means >0.7qt didn't drain. Doesn't make sense.
    – findwindow
    Commented May 24, 2023 at 20:14
  • @findwindow - Have you ever checked to see how much oil you are getting out of it during the change? That, in and of itself, might answer your question. Commented May 24, 2023 at 21:38
  • Yea, that's the only explanation. It must be draining a lot less than I believe. Thanks!
    – findwindow
    Commented May 24, 2023 at 22:10

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