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Accurate Checking of Oil:

I have a 4-Runner and have difficulty accurately checking the oil. When inserting the dipstick into the channel, it picks up oil from the sides, making it difficult to determine an accurate reading. This is particularly true when oil is fresh. I am sensitive to this because I had an engine “blow” at one point, and the oil was more than a quart high when I checked it. How can I be accurate?

Let the engine sit for a while to let the oil from the tube drain back into the pan. Checking the oil on any engine can be inaccurate right when it’s shut off.

Mike is right. The easiest time is before the first start of the day.

Usually the oil collects on only one side of the dipstick. Turn it over to get a good level check.

I may not have been clear, though Steve’s response addresses the question. The issue is that when the dipstick is inserted, after cleaning, and withdrawn, there is an oil coating from the bottom of the dipstick reaching upward a couple of inches above the “full” hole. This makes it impossible to determine the actual amount of oil. Unfortunately, the coating is on both sides of the dipstick.

If this is happening even after the car has been sitting for awhile, I can only suggest that perhaps you have too much oil.

Have you been using a quickie-lube by any chance?

Yes, I had a lube today, though I have noticed the same since purchasing the vehicle. I will check it in the morning after it has sat for 12 hours or more.

  Keep away from the quick change places.  We hear far too many horror stories about them.  Some may be fine, but many pay the help little, demand fast changes and that results in a high percentage of errors. Too many live by selling you something you don't need at inflated prices.  

Find a good local mechanic and stick with them for your needs.

Don't go to the quick lube places, even for directions.

Some dipsticks have some very small holes drilled in them to make it easier to see where the oil level is. If it were that hard for me to tell, I would drill a few holes in the end at the full, half, and 1 qt. down points.