Step by Step How to Change Engine Oil and Oil Filter
How Often Should you Change your Engine Oil?
To find out how often you should change the oil in your specific car please refer to your owner's manual to find the manufacturer recommendations. Most car manufacturers recommend changing your engine oil and filter every 3 months or 3,000 miles however, some newer cars don't need a change for closer to 6,000 miles depending on the type of engine and the type of oil that is used. Typically engines that are running on synthetic oil can go roughly twice as long between oil changes as cars running conventional oil. Engine oil is essential for your car to run efficiently. Changing your oil regularly is the most important thing you can do to make your car last a long time.
Why Type of Oil Should I put in my Car?
This is another question that you will want to check your owner's manual about. Your owner's manual will recommend a specific weight of motor oil to run in your car in the summer and another weight to use in the winter. In the summer you generally need a lighter oil, in the winter you need one that is heavier. Be careful, make sure you find the right oil for your vehicle. Cars running on synthetic and cars with diesel engines need a specific type of oil.
How to Change Your Motor Oil
First, check your oil. Take note of the level on the dipstick and how dark it is. Is your oil very dark, almost black? Has it been over 3 months or more than 3,000 miles since your last oil change? If so, then it is time to change your oil. Only work on your car's engine when the engine is cool. Let it sit overnight to cool down. Otherwise you can burn yourself on the hot oil or hot engine parts.
- Use a car jack or ramps to lift the front end of your vehicle up so you can crawl underneath. Be very careful to do this safely as your car can easily crush you. If you have never done this, please look up instructions for this step separately. Once your car is up on jack stands or on your ramps, give it a little shake to make sure it is secure. If it is going to fall, better that it does it now without you underneath.
- Find some sort of container to catch your dirty oil. You can buy a cool, thin catcher with a funnel that makes it easier or use old milk jugs with the top cut off.
- Locate the fill valve on top of the engine. It usually says "motor oil" and is colored Orange or yellow. Remove it so the oil can easily flow out of the drain plug below.
- Crawl under the car. Locate the oil pain and oil drain plug. (see picture above). Position your oil catcher under the drain plug (note: most drain plugs go into the pan at an angle, therefore the oil will shoot out at this angle as well).
- Remove the drain plug with some kind of wrench. The oil will drain quickly so be sure you are ready to catch it. Wait 10 minutes or so for all of it to drain out. While you are waiting, locate the oil filter. (see picture). When the oil is finished draining, put the plug back in.
- Remove the oil filter. These simply screw on and off. Just grab the filter and twist. If it is tootight you may need to use a rag to get a better grip or purchase a filter wrench. Be careful, the old filter will have some oil in it. Don't dump it on yourself. Wipe off any old, dripping oil from where the filter was.
- Take the new filter out of the box, locate the rubber ring seal on the open end. Dip your finger in a bottle of the new motor oil and rub it around the rubber seal on the filter. This will help the filter seal better. Install the new oil filter by screwing it on to the engine.
- Use a small funnel to refill the engine with oil from the oil fill valve on top of the engine. Besure to only add as much oil as your car needs (check the manual for the specifics). Too much oil is harmful just as too little oil is also harmful. Check your oil using the dipstick to make sure that you add the right amount. Once you have the correct amount, replace the cap and clean up.
- Dispose of your old engine oil and old filter by taking them to an auto parts store or auto service center. Do not pour them on the ground or down the sink.
- Bask in the power and satisfaction of doing something yourself, saving time and money!