How to Change Your Own Oil

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How to Change Your Own Oil

mechanic changing oil

When it comes to car maintenance, changing the oil is one of the easier tasks that you can take on yourself. It’s a simple process that requires few tools, and you’ll end up saving some money in the long run.

What you’ll need: wrench to remove drain plug, oil filter wrench, drain pan, funnel, latex gloves, jack and jack stands or ramps. The first time you change your own oil will be the most costly as you’ll have to buy the tools.

Consult your owner’s manual to see which oil filter, oil type, and the amount of oil you’ll need to change. Most cars require four to five quarts of oil. Also, make sure you buy the correct oil grade for your car.

Here are the steps to change your oil:

  1. Warm up your car: To ensure that you drain all the old oil out of your engine block, warm it up by driving your car around the block a couple times. You don’t want the oil to be too hot, just warm enough so it thins out.
  2. Elevate: If using ramps, drive the vehicle onto the ramps. Put blocks of wood behind the non-ramped wheels. If using a jack and jack stands, raise the vehicle with the jack and lower it onto the stands.
  3. Drain the oil: Locate the engine oil pan underneath your car (it’s large and sags down a bit from the engine area). There’s a drain plug on the bottom edge. Slip the drain pan below.

Unscrew the drain plug with the proper size box end wrench. Let the plug drop into the drain pan so that you don’t burn yourself or spill oil. It will take a few minutes for the oil to drain.

Reinstall the drain plug into the oil pan. Do not over tighten.

  1. Remove old oil filter: More oil will come out of the filter so be sure to move the oil pan underneath your oil filter. Attach the filter wrench around the filter. The filter gasket should come off with the filter. Wipe the filter mounting area with a clean rag. Swab the housing area with a rag until it’s free of old oil.
  2. Replace the oil filter: Coat the filter gasket with clean oil. Screw it in, and take caution not to tighten too much. The tightening instructions will be printed on most filters.
  3. Put in new oil: Remove the oil cap from the top of your car, and place a funnel inside the hole. Pour the new oil into the funnel until you’ve added the amount specified by your owner’s manual. Replace the cap and hand-tighten it.

Now, take your car off the jacks. Let it run to cycle the oil. After a few minutes, turn your car off and check your dipstick to ensure that the levels are where they need to be.

Some people like having someone else change their oil as it is more convenient for them, and mess-free. That’s fine, too. Look around for the best deal on oil changes. If you have a mechanic that you’ve worked with in the past, ask them if they have any specials or coupons. Also, many mechanics anymore have mailing lists; ask to join so that you are aware of monthly specials.

Need an auto body professional? Call Great Plains Auto Body at 402.334.7100. And make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

photo credit: IMG_1729 via photopin (license)

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