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How to Change Oil in Your Car

Updated on August 5, 2009

Do Your Own Oil Change

Changing your oil is a fairly simple task that you need to have done. You can just as easily change your own oil as you can take it a mechanic.

Before you change the oil in your car, you want to make sure that you have all the proper equipment.

  • Oil filter wrench
  • Oil catch pan/recycle container
  • Funnel
  • New oil filter
  • New Oil

Before you change the oil in your car, remember that it's best that you have a safe place to do your oil change. Find level ground where you can safely jack your car up. You may want to consider putting cardboard or a piece of plywood under the car in case you spill something.

Before you get started make sure that your engine is cool! You can't perform a good oil change if the motor is still hot.

Oil Replacement

When replacing the oil in your car, you want to start by getting the old oil out of the motor. The oil is held in by a drain plug at the bottom of the pan. Before you pull the plug, you want to place your oil pan underneath the oil drain so that you can catch the old oil; you don't want to spend the majority of your oil replacement cleaning up spilt oil.

When you're ready to remove the drain plug, unscrew it and just let it drop into the oil catch pan; most have a screen or some kind of catch that will make sure that the plug doesn't fall into the old oil in the bottom of the pan.

Let all of the oil drain out and replace the drain plug, tightening it to your vehicles specifications. (Tip: by opening the hood of the car and the oil filter cap on the top of the engine, and this will help the old oil drain faster.)

Next, you want to use an oil filter wrench to remove the old oil filter, using the wrench turn the filter counterclockwise until you're able to get it loose. Just be careful if it still has old oil, it will spill. Depending on your car, you may be able to remove the oil filter from the top or side, but most are removed from the bottom, underneath the car.

Replace the Old with New

Since you've removed the old oil and the filter, you want to replace with new oil and a new oil filter. Before you screw the new oil filter into place, you have to lubricate the rubber gasket on the end of the filter with the new oil. Then go ahead and fill the oil filter about 2/3 the way with the new oil.

Carefully, screw the new oil filter into place, remember that it has oil in it so hold it upright to prevent spillage. Screw on the oil filter as tight as you can with your hand; you don't need a wrench to install a new filter. Be careful not to over-tighten the filter because it can strip the threads and cause a leak, but so can not tightening the oil filter in all the way.

With the oil filter in place, you're ready to add the new oil. Unscrew the oil fill cap ad insert your funnel. When adding the oil, you want to pour just a little more than 3/4 what the engine will hold, so if you engine hold 4 quarts of oil, you want to add about 3-1/2 quarts of oil.

Now, all you have to do is check your oil to make sure that you're at the right level. If all is ready then you're ready to drive off. Just make sure that the first place you drive to after your oil replacement is to an automotive place or recycling center where you can recycle your old oil.

Clean Spilt Oil

While performing your oil replacement, you may spill oil on the ground, concrete, etc. You may also get oil on your hands. It's a potentially messy job, and you want to be prepared for the mess.

There are products that are manufactured to remove oil stains safely. Some of the products, such as Oil Dri is great for absorbing the spill and reducing the stain, and other products such as Oil Eater helps to dissolve the grease and oil.

There are many products that you can consider, most of which can be used on a variety of surfaces and in a variety or situations.

Just make sure that the product is non-toxic, non-corrosive, non-hazardous, and USDA approved for non-food surfaces. The products listed to the right are just that.


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