Today, many people are changing their own oil.  Whether doing this to save money, time, or simply for the satisfaction of maintaining their own vehicle; incorporating these 6 tips will make the job easier and more effective.

1.  Drain your oil when the engine is warm.  This will help you remove the contaminants from the engine more easily and also allow the oil to flow out faster.  If your engine is cold, warm it up enough that the temperature gage starts moving.  This will provide the two above benefits without risking burning your fingers.

Drain OilCredit: C. Rodriguez 2014

2.  Replace your crush washer.  This is the washer that goes in between your drain plug and oil pan.  You can buy them from your dealer or at some auto parts stores.  I usually pick up 5-10 of these whenever I go to the dealer for something.  Without a crush washer, high torque is needed on the drain plug to prevent an oil leak.  This extra torque may strip the threads on your oil pan, which is an expensive repair.  Investing in a 75 cent crush washer may save you a lot of headaches and money down the road.

Crush WasherCredit: C. Rodriguez 2014

3.  Recycle your oil.  Most auto parts stores will accept conventional and synthetic oil for recycling.  It is as easy as showing up at AutoZone with a milk jug full of old oil.  The friendly staff will point you in a direction of the large container in which to dump it.  As another even more convenient option, some waste management companies will recycle your oil for you.  For example, in San Jose, CA you can call your waste management company and ask for oil recycling jugs and bags for your used oil filters.  On trash day, they’ll drop them off at your house, and you simply leave the waste oil and old oil filters in the containers provided.  They’ll pick them up from your curb and recycle them for you.  

4.   Wear disposable gloves.  At one time, I thought wearing gloves made me less “tough” and that gloves were for wimps.  My paradigm has now shifted and I now enjoy the ease of cleanup, not to mention the potential negative effects of having used motor oil on my hands.

5.  Use synthetic motor oil specifically designed for high gas mileage.  I prefer Mobil 1 0w-30 for my Corolla.  This gives me a few additional miles per gallon (which more than makes up for the additional cost of the synthetic oil) while providing additional peace of mind from using high quality oil.

ToolsCredit: C. Rodriguez 2014

6. Follow your manufacturer’s recommended oil change intervals.  For example, Toyota suggests changing your oil every 5,000 miles and Honda recommends every 7,500 miles.  The old saying “3,000 miles makes you smile” may not hold true for your vehicle.  In many cases, you may be simply wasting money and resources.  Check your owner’s manual for details