Regularly changing your car’s engine oil and filter are one of the most important things you can do to keep your car running well. Over time, your oil will break down and your filter will become clogged with contaminants.
Depending upon your driving habits and type of vehicle, this may take as few as 3 months or 3,000 miles (4,800 km), or be as long as 20,000 miles (32,000 km) or 24 months (consult your owner’s manual for service intervals).
But with oil change shops charging more and more, it’s time to get back under the car and start saving big bucks. Plus, you won’t be pressured into buying overpriced add-ons (like wiper blades and PCV valves) every time you go in for a oil change. We’ll show you how to change oil fast and painlessly. And we’ll show you some tips you may not know about.
Fortunately, changing your oil is both easy and inexpensive, so the sooner you change the oil in your car if it needs it, the better.
Take care of your Car and the Car Takes care of you.
4 Steps to changing the oil in your car.
The whole process can be broken down into 4 parts: Jacking up the car, draining the oil, replacing oil filter, adding the new oil.
- (x) Motor Oil – Car Manual for best reccomendation
- (1) Oil Filter – Car Specific
- – Floor Jack
- – Jack Stands
- – Funnel
- – Oil Drain Pan
- – Socket Wrench Set
- – Wheel Chocks (Optional)
- – Work Gloves (Optional)
- – Strap Wrench (Optional)
- – Rags or Paper Towel (Optional)
- Warm Engine and Park on Level Surface
After you have collected all of the tools and supplies you need to prepare your vehicle.The first thing you should do is start the car and let it run for one to two minutes (longer if the weather is cool). This will warm the oil and the engine and that will allow more of the oil to drain out. Just don’t run the engine too long – You don’t want to be scalded trying to oil out of the engine.After the engine is warm, find a flat surface to park on (preferably a driveway or pavement).
Then put the car in park and block the tires. It is important to block both the front side and back side of the tires with wheel chocks (a wooden block will do too – see image below) to make sure that the vehicle does not roll when jacking it up.
- Jack up Car and Insert Jack Stands
Check your auto repair manual to find the best location for the floor jack and the jack stands. Most cars and trucks have markings (usually arrows) on the sides under the body of the vehicle that show where to place jacks and jack stands. I prefer to jack the vehicle from the center under the engine, then place the jack stands on the sides.
After the jack stands are in place jack the vehicle up enough so that you can fit underneath to loosen the drain plug and replace the oil filter.Sometimes I leave the jack under the engine too, just as a safeguard against the jackstands failing.
- Locate Oil Drain Plug and Oil Filter
Next you will need to locate the oil filter and oil drain plug. You should be able to find the locations in your owner’s manual.The oil filter is usually located in the hardest possible place to reach…just kidding! It is usually on the side of the engine about halfway up. Sometimes it takes a lot of looking to find it. You might need to look from the top of the engine to see it.
The oil drain plug is located on the bottom of the engine at the lowest point of the oil pan. Sometimes you will need to take off a skid plate or some type of plastic underbelly to get to both the oil filter and the oil pan drain plug.
- Remove Drain Plug and Drain Oil from Car
After you have found the oil filter and drain plug, the next step in this how to change oil guide is to find the right sized socket, then loosen the drain plug with a socket wrench.The point of loosening the drain plug first is that it is much easier to do without the bulky drain pan in the way. Once it is loose you should put on work gloves to protect your hands, position an oil drain pan under the engine then remove the plug the rest of the way.Be sure to place the drain pan back further than you think it needs to be because the oil will likely shoot out about four to six inches from the drain hole.
*Always be sure to have a good way to store the used engine oil. The best way to do this is to have a dedicated oil pan. I got this one and I love it.
TIP: Most auto parts store place will dispose of your oil for free. Having a large container will save you from making multiple trips.
- Remove & Replace the Oil Filter
First, try to grasp the oil filter with your hand and rotate it counter clockwise to remove it. That’s really all it should take to remove it if it was installed correctly on the previous oil change, but rarely are oil filters installed with the proper torque. It probably won’t budge and you’ll have to use something to give you a mechanical edge.Grab your oil filter wrench, whether you have the cup/cap style or a strap wrench, and place it on the oil filter.
Again, you are going to turn it in a counter clockwise direction and it should come free. Oil will start to drain from the oil filter into your drain pan. As soon as the filter is loose enough, remove your filter wrench and turn it the rest of the way off by hand. Tip the filter upside down and pour the oil in the filter into your drain pan.
Now you need to lubricate the new gasket on the new oil filter. Dip your finger into new, clean, fresh oil and apply the oil to the filter gasket, spreading it around with your finger. If you need to add more oil, do it. Just keep doing it until it’s all lubricated. It doesn’t take much but it is important. Lubricating the gasket makes for a better seal and also prevents the seal from ripping while spinning the filter on.
Now you need to install your new oil filter. I’m assuming that you went to the auto parts store and bought the correct filter for your vehicle’s engine. It’s as simple as going to the parts store and looking it up in a book using your vehicles Year, Make, Model, and Engine. You can also just tell that information to the person working at the parts store and they’ll look it up for you and bring it to you. It’s pretty easy.
Anyways, back to the install. Put your oil filter up to the threaded portion and begin to spin it on, being careful not to cross thread it. If there is resistance, then you are crossthreading it. Spin it counter clockwise a bit and try again. Do that until you get it to spin on easily. If you force it and cross thread it, then you will need to buy a new oil filter housing which you will probably need a mechanic in a shop to do and that is going to be expensive.
- Filling the Engine with Oil
Place your funnel in the oil fill hole at the top of the engine. Pour in the specified amount and type of oil for your engine. I usually put in about half a quart less than the specification so that I don’t accidentally over fill. It is easier to add more oil than to over fill and need to re-raise the vehicle to let some oil out.
The specification is a suggestion, but each individual engine is slightly different and may take a slightly different amount of oil. I’m talking about a small fraction of a quart, but still.Once you’ve added the oil, remove the funnel using a rag to prevent oil from dripping onto your engine and wipe the funnel clean or set it on a rag so it doesn’t make a mess. Install the oil fill cap and make sure the dipstick and cap are in place. Start the engine. Allow the engine to run for about 10 seconds to make sure the filter fills with oil and you get an accurate read on your dip stick.
You can run the engine for longer, but 30 seconds is an acceptable length of time. Shut off the engine and check the oil level on the dipstick.
- Check Oil Levels
Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean with a clean shop rag. Insert the dipstick into the dipstick tube and let it sit for a second or two. Remove the dipstick and check where the level is. You want the oil level to be in the safe range. The safe range is indicated by two dots or holes or lines in the dipstick. Most of the time the safe range is also cross hatched.If the oil level is somewhere in that range you are good. You want it somewhere above the halfway point and on the full mark is perfect.
The amount of oil it takes to get from the lowest dot or line to the full dot or line is one quart.If you find that the level is lower than what you’d like it to be, just remove the filler cap and add more oil little by little and keep checking it until you get it where you want it. You don’t need to start the engine each time you add more because the point of starting the engine was to fill the oil filter, which is filled after the first start.
After you get the level you want, make sure the oil fill cap and dipstick are installed correctly and you are done!
Lessons Learned: Don’t forget, your car has a system that automatically reminds you to change your oil. Make sure to reset the oil counter so it matches with your oil change date.