Can You Add Oil to a Hot Engine?

Technically, you can add new oil to a hot engine—but waiting 20 to 30 minutes after the engine has been shut off is safer.
Written by Andrew Biro
You should wait at least 20 to 30 minutes after turning off your engine before measuring or changing your oil, although you can add oil to a hot engine during an oil change
  • Adding oil while the engine’s hot won’t damage your vehicle, but the ideal temperature for performing an oil change is warm, not hot. 
  • Waiting will minimize your chances of being burned and give you a more accurate oil level measurement.
  • Hot engine oil may be harder to obtain an accurate oil level reading from—putting you at risk of overfilling the tank.

The ideal temperature for changing your engine oil

You’ll want to add oil when the engine is warm rather than hot, as this will allow the oil to move freely without putting you at risk of an accidental burn. That said, it won’t harm your engine if you add motor oil while it’s hot—but your odds of getting burned are a lot higher.
You’ll also want a warm engine over a hot engine if you are measuring your oil level. Hot oil expands and takes up more space, meaning you may not get an accurate reading of the engine oil level with your oil dipstick. 
To get to the right engine temperature before you put oil in or top up:
  • With a hot engine: If you’ve had your engine running for a while, start by shutting it off. Wait 20-30 minutes to let the engine cool before draining the old oil and putting in new oil. 
  • With a cold engine: Start your vehicle and let it run for a few minutes to let it warm up, then shut it off before changing or topping off the oil level. 
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Yes, you can add oil to a car when it’s hot, but you should only do so if you are topping your oil off. 
If you are changing your car’s engine oil or need to measure the amount of oil in your tank, consider waiting 20 to 30 minutes after turning off the engine to reduce the risk of burns.
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