Changing Your Oil


Maintaining your vehicle can be a fun, interesting and educational experience. It can also be gratifying to know that the job has been done correctly, because you did it yourself! And performing a relatively simple task like changing your oil can save you a lot of money now and in the years to come.

To begin, refer to your owner's manual to find out how often you should change your vehicle's oil. Many passenger cars today require oil changes only every 5000 miles. The exceptions are: always operating in dusty, dirty or heavy-duty conditions. Next, purchase or borrow from your local library a vehicle repair manual. Look up the oil change procedure to familiarize yourself with not only what you need to do, but also with the equipment and supplies you will need.

In addition to the correct amount of replacement oil and a new oil filter, you will need a ramp or jack stands to elevate the front of the car. (Caution: always make sure you place the car in gear and set the emergency brake before elevating the vehicle.) Other equipment and tools you will need include an oil-filter wrench, in case the old filter is difficult to remove; a drain pan with which to catch the oil after you open the drain plug; a box wrench, socket wrench, or crescent wrench to remove the oil-drain plug; plus a container for the used oil and a funnel. Also remember to have plenty of newspaper, cat litter-type clean up material, and rags in case of an oil spill.

After you have securely elevated the front end of the vehicle, place the oil-drain pan below the oil pan and position it so that it will catch the used oil. Crawl underneath the vehicle. Use a box wrench, crescent wrench or socket wrench to slowly remove the oil-drain plug, watching carefully as the old oil begins to drain out and positioning the oil-drain pan appropriately. As the old oil is draining into the pan, slowly remove the old filter. (Use the oil-filter wrench to loosen the oil filter if you have trouble doing it by hand.) As you are underneath the vehicle near the oil-drain pan at this point, with the used oil filter in your hand, reach over and pour any used oil that remains in the filter into the drain pan. Put the old filter aside.

Make sure all of the old oil has drained out of the engine. Put the drain plug back into the oil pan and tighten snuggly. (Caution: do not over tighten the drain plug; doing so can strip the threads in the oil pan, which will necessitate a costly repair.) Install the new oil filter; hand-tighten it one-quarter turn. Now you are ready to install the new oil.

Remove the oil-filler cap in the engine compartment. Add the amount of oil required and replace the cap. After you have added all the oil, start the engine. Check underneath the vehicle for leaks. If there are no leaks, take the vehicle off the jacks or ramp and begin your cleanup.

Using the funnel, pour the used oil into a container (a clean plastic milk or windshield wash container is good for this). Clean up any spills with rags and/or newspaper, and cover with cat-litter type material. Dispose of your used oil and used oil filters properly at a recycling facility. Never pour used oil down a sewer, drain, or onto the ground.