Say the oil light turns on in my car, so I check the dipstick and it's low. I have an extra quart in the trunk...

...but I don't have a funnel to pour the oil through.

I once tried pouring straight from the bottle, but since it was a windy day, oil went where it shouldn't have. How can I pour all the oil into the engine?

  • 3
    Generally, you can pour directly from the bottle. What car do you have?
    – J. Musser
    Dec 11, 2014 at 2:52
  • 3
    Not if you hold the bottle neck up against.
    – J. Musser
    Dec 11, 2014 at 4:37
  • 1
    Find a less windy spot to do this. You need not lock-up your brakes to do this at pit-crew speeds. You have no emergency to prevent you locating whatever you need including a sheltered place to pour oil carefully. If you need, use a paper towel around the mouth of the opening to catch the drop or two or mop it up if you didn't.
    – Stan
    Jul 30, 2016 at 1:13
  • 1
    It's important to note that the oil light depends on oil PRESSURE, not oil LEVEL. You can easily have the recommended amount of oil (check with the dipstick), or even too much, and still have low oil pressure due to mechanical problems.
    – jamesqf
    Jan 31, 2017 at 20:21
  • 1
    @FlorianCastellane Oil on a hot engine starts to smoke. It's messy more than anything, but on some components could start a fire.
    – Mooseman
    Feb 9, 2017 at 11:41

8 Answers 8


You could grab like 1 or more pieces of paper, stacked together, and make your own funnel/backboard like mechanism. If you have cardboard paper, I'd use that, since it's stronger. You could use tape to make something very much like the shape of a plastic funnel, or you could just hold it together with your hand. Then when you're done, just throw the paper in the trash.

enter image description here

  • Nice! Definitely go for the cardboard paper if you're going to use it for oil.
    – Shokhet
    Dec 11, 2014 at 1:55

You can make a funnel yourself out of a plastic water or soda bottle you may have sitting in your car. Using scissors, a knife, or even your teeth, you can rip through the water bottle and make it look like the image below.

Water Bottle Funnel

Source: wikiHow

  • 2
    I already mentioned this in my answer.
    – Pobrecita
    Dec 11, 2014 at 3:09
  • 1
    I really like this! (I wouldn't recommend using your teeth though!)
    – Mooseman
    Dec 11, 2014 at 3:09
  • @Mooseman That's only if your really desperate
    – michaelpri
    Dec 11, 2014 at 3:11
  • I actually use this all the time. Make sure there is no water or whatever left in the bottle
    – John
    Feb 9, 2017 at 17:50
  • In case of lack of scissors or a cutter, I would resort to a key better than teeth.
    – Pere
    Feb 9, 2017 at 19:24

Pouring quickly helps, but if you hold the container close to the hole you are pouring it into it should work.


  • Making a Aluminium foil funnel should work. You may opt out of using foil though and cut the top off a water bottle and pour the oil that way. Also, the plastic and foil may last longer than a paper or cardboard one.

Modern plastic 1 quart oil bottles have the funnel built in. In the old days of one quart cans of oil, you either used a spout or opened the can with a can opener and poured into a funnel.

You will note that on a modern oil container the spout is offset to one side. The design is meant to place close to the oil opening of the engine and once started you simply tilt it up vertical inserting the spout into the opening.

While the use of a funnel may be necessary on some engines because of an awkward oil cap placement, generally speaking using a funnel to add oil is reinventing the wheel, and will cause more mess and problems then it solves.

  • If it isn't a windy day, you can have the spout towards the top when you start pouring. This prevents the "glugging" that can occur when it tries to equalize the air pressure. Dec 16, 2014 at 14:18

the other answers are good but also to help reduce the glugging, therefore the increases the accuracy, pour it so half the pouring hole has oil flowing through it. this can be done by tipping the bottle slowly or by turning the bottle so that the longest edge of the bottom parralell with the ground.

|   |   dosnt glug
|   |   |`````````|
|_o_|   |_o_______|

A gas station will give you a disposable paper funnel (they look like these: https://www.freshwatersystems.com/p-9496-1000-konie-10-oz-disposable-paper-funnels-8-sleeves-of-125.aspx). Use the right tool for the job, don't try to create a makeshift funnel unless it's your option of last resort.


Here is a video link: https://youtu.be/cOBn_I-6olw In the first part of the video, he's pouring slow liquids like engine oil with some DIY thing

  • Welcome to lifehacks! Please write an answer that can help us out without having to open up another link. Thanks!
    – Mooseman
    Jan 30, 2017 at 12:23

If you want a quick solution that is easily reusable, and can work for all your fluids (Gas, Windshield fluid, ect.) try using a water pistol.

Just fill the pistol with whatever fluid you need, and point the nozzle right into whatever spout your car might have, no matter how difficult it is to reach.

While it depends on what you have to hand, I'd recommend a smaller, more handheld model for easy portability and manoeuvrability for those hard to reach spouts.

What I might recommend:

enter image description here

  • Am i following your suggestion that you should use a squirt gun to fill your oil AND your washer fluid tanks? Or perhaps have a series of different squirt guns in my car for all the different fluids i need?
    – Phlume
    Dec 11, 2014 at 21:54
  • 2
    Yes the ideal would be having a series of guns for each fluid, preferably colour coded to the fluid itself.
    – RedRiderX
    Dec 11, 2014 at 21:56
  • 14
    The water gun you're recommending here only holds 3.7 fluid ounces, not anywhere near enough to fill any automotive fluid that I'm aware of. Also motor oil is a lot thicker than water so the chances of this really working aren't great. Beyond that wouldn't filling the water gun be even more difficult than filling the receptacle on the car, requiring an even smaller funnel?
    – apaul
    Dec 16, 2014 at 22:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.