you don't need to take any covers off except to ADD oil. It is difficult to get to, but there are really two routes to get your hand down to the stick - choose the best - it works best with no watch on but I usually leave mine on. I've gotten better at it after about 65 times checking it... and as far putting it back in to recheck after cleaning it - I clean it while it's still inside, then once you have the end in the straw holder tube just let it drop, then push it in all the way to get your reading.
1st preorder grp: 2004 RX-8,6sp,Touring,Velocity Red-
(deposit Jan 2002, ordered 1/9/2003,built 5/23,delivered 7/17/2003)
1992 Miata; Owner 5 Previous RX7s:2-81,2-84GSL-SE,90conv
34344 miles[1/6/06] +/-21mpg,87oct since 8308-last tank 21.1; Foglight mod,CZ Stg 1,"M" flash 6/4/04