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Change Your Oil DIY

Updated on November 7, 2011

OIl Change

This weekend I took the time to do an oil change on both of the family vehicles. They were very overdue for my liking, but it's been a crazy time around the house I just haven't had the time. Although you should check you manual to see how long you car manufacturer says you can go in between changes. Many cars are said to be able to go 5,000 - 7,500 miles, although I try to stick to the traditional 3,000 whenever possible.

What You'll Need

Changing you oil is really very straight forward. For tools you'll need socket wrench and socket (usually 1/2"), and oil filter wrench, ramps, a funnel, and a container to catch the oil. For materials you will need oil (check your manual to see what kind - synthetic vs conventional and weight - Ex: 5W-30) and an oil filter. Depending on your experience level you may need more or less then what I've listed here, but this will definitely get the job done.

Safety First

The first thing you are going to do is drive you car up onto a set up ramps. Make sure that the ramps you are using are rated to hold at least the weight of your car/truck. You should also always be wearing safety eye glasses as well through out the whole process. Once you have you vehicles up on the ramps you should put blocking behind your tires to keep it from rolling off the ramps. Also many people like to place some kind of solid blocking under the vehicles to catch it just in case for some reason the ramps fail.

Step 1

The first thing you need to do it place the oil catch container under the oil pan. Then you are going to use the socket wrench to remove the drain plug from the pan and let the oil run out into the container. This will take a little bit and you should make sure to do this step first so that the oil has plenty of time to drain out. Even once the flow has slowed to a drip try to give it as much time as possible to get as much of the old oil out. Note: if you car has been running for anytime at all then the oil will be very hot so be very careful not to burn yourself!

Step 2

Next you should remove the oil filter. First try to remove it with just your hand. If you can't break it loose then use some version of an oil filter wrench. Some of these will fit on your socket wrench and some are a stand along tool. Either way remove it and tip it over into the container to let all the oil run out.

Step 3

Next you need to replace the oil filter with the new one. You should open up the oil and get a little on your finger and rub it on the rubber seal of the new oil filter. This will ensure that the rubber seal doesn't get pinched when tightening it on. Then just thread it on until you can't tighten it any further with your hand. This is as tight as it needs to be.

Step 4

Once all the oil has drained/dripped out then it is time to replace the drain plug. Finger tighten it on and then just give it a little pressure with your socket wrench. Be careful because depending on your oil pan it is very easy to strip out the threads from over tightening, which can really be a pain!

Step 5

Remove the oil cap up on the engine. Using the funnel pour in the recommended amount of oil (typically this is 4-6 qrts depending on the size of your engine, but reference your manual to be sure). Replace the oil cap.

Step 6

You now need to start the engine for just a moment (30 seconds will do). This will pump the oil and fill the oil filter. Then kill the engine and using the dipstick, check the oil level. It should be right between the marks. If it's low add more oil. If it's high then you'll need to remove the drain plug and let some out.

Now you are done with you oil chance and can go about your business. I typically like to check the oil level each day for a few days after an oil change. Better safe then sorry to make sure everything was done right and tighten back up and nothing is leaking.

Oil Additives

Almost all manufactures are going to say that you should add nothing to the oil but the right recommended weight of oil. Many different types of oil additives are sold though promising to improve performance in one way or the other. You need to be mindful of what adding these additives will do to your warranty of course.

Personally I like to add something called Engine Restore with each oil change. I've placed a link below. It is supposed to fill in the little minute cracks, gaps, etc that time and wear and tear create inside your engine where the oil lives. I can't say that I know for sure of some spot that it has filled in, but I can tell you I have been using it for years and years and I've never once had an engine fail on me!


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