A private pilot oral exam guide I'm reading asks a basic question about an issue I had taken for granted:
You have just completed the first leg of a long cross-country and notice that the oil level is approaching the one quart low mark. As a private pilot, can you add the quart of oil yourself or is a mechanic required? (See 14 CFR Part 43)
Clearly this must be preventative maintenance? No. 14 CFR Part 43 Appendix A does not explicitly list adding oil as preventative maintenance.
Searching online I found a lot of forum posts discussing this issue, some suggesting it is "obviously" preventative maintenance per the definition, but 14 CFR Part 1 does not define preventative maintenance, and others suggesting it isn't maintenance, it's servicing, but this isn't defined either.
How does this work if you're a student pilot on a solo cross country? If you shut the engine off and check the oil, are you stuck if the oil is low?
The best answer I can find is adding oil is not "maintenance" or "servicing," it is Normal Procedure per the Pilot Operating Handbook / Information Manual. The Cessna 172S POH as part of the preflight check on page 4-10 states:
Engine Oil Dipstick/Filler Cap -- CHECK oil level, the check dipstick/filler cap SECURE. Do not operate with less than five quarts. Fill to eight quarts for extended flight.
The POH is a little ambiguous how much oil to add, but it clearly states the pilot executing this procedure should add oil.
I believe this how a student pilot can add oil to a plane, or at least a Cessna 172S. Is this correct or is there a better explanation?