DIY Car Maintenance – How to Change Your Oil Yourself

By Blog

car-308417_640Learning to change your car’s oil is not only a great way to save money it’s actually much easier than it sounds.  However, when it comes to your automobile’s maintenance and up-keep, safety comes first!  So, whether this is your first solo oil change or you’ve been at it for years, these easy DIY car maintenance instructions will help you get the job done safely and efficiently.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4 to 6 quarts of motor oil (be sure to check your owner’s manual for the right kind and amount)
  • Oil filter
  • Safety glasses
  • Funnel
  • Rags
  • Drain plug socket wrench or open-end wrench
  • Oil filter wrench
  • Large drain pan
  • Gloves
  • Ramps or Jack Stands

Step 1: Choose Your Oil

Before getting started, check your vehicle owner’s manual.  It will recommend a weight and type of oil that should be used, whether it’s Conventional, Synthetic or High Mileage (for vehicles with more than 75,000 miles on them).  Your manual will also tell you how many miles you should drive your car before changing the oil and any special conditions.  Whatever you do, do not exceed warranty recommendations, and follow your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations on oil viscosity grade and type.

Step 2:  Prepare Your Vehicle

As you prep your vehicle to change the oil, always remember, safety first!  Check your owner’s manual, beforehand, for any specific safety precautions that need to be taken before you climb under your car.

When raising your vehicle to crawl underneath, never use a bumper jack!  These are too unstable.  If you have access to them, ramps are ideal and much safer.  Make sure that you’re on level ground, and drive onto the ramps until your front tires are elevated.  Set your emergency brake.

Idle your engine for about 5 to 10 minutes before getting started to bring the oil to a normal operating temperature.  If the oil is cold, it won’t drain properly.  Next, turn off the engine and raise the hood to locate and loosen the oil filler cap.  The cap will say, “Oil” and sits on top of the engine.

Step 3:  Drain the Old Oil

Locate your oil drain plug.  It should be on the underside of your car at the bottom rear end of the engine sump or oil pan.  Place your drain pan underneath the drain plug.  Then, use your wrench to turn the plug counterclockwise until it rotates freely.  You’ll want to finish removing it by hand, but watch out; the oil may come out fast and hot.

Step 4:  Remove the Oil Filter

Loosen the oil filter by turning it counterclockwise with your filter wrench.  Finish removing it by hand, but, again, watch out, as it may be hot.  It may also be filled with oil, so remove it carefully and tip whatever is in it into the drain pan.

Step 5:  Replace the Oil Filter

Use your rag to clean in and around the filter seat on the engine.  Next, take your new filter and apply a light film of new oil to the circular edge with your finger.  This will act as a sealant.  Carefully screw the new filter in, by hand, turning it clockwise.  Make sure that the filter is aligned and secure, but don’t over tighten.

Clean the copper gasket, oil plug and oil pan near the oil plug before replacing the drain plug.  Screw it in by hand, but finish securing it with your wrench.  Make sure that it is snug, but don’t over tighten.

Step 6:  Add New Oil

Back on top of your car, under the hood, use your funnel to carefully pour the new oil into the filler hole.  Pour in the recommended number of quarts from your owner’s manual.  Use the dipstick to check the fill level.  Once filled to its proper level, replace the oil filler cap and clean up any spillage.  Also check under your car for any leaks.

Step 7:  Dispose of the Old Oil

Proper disposal of oil is absolutely essential!  Used motor oil is extremely toxic, so it’s important to safely dispose of it.  Transfer your used oil into a sealed container.  You can then either take it to your nearest motor oil recycling facility, or take it to an oil change facility where they can properly and safely recycle it for you.

That’s it! You should be good to go for another few thousand miles.