Instructables

Changing A Vehicle's Oil

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Changing your motor oil is any easy way to save money and keep your vehicle in good condition. It is a simple process that does not require vast automobile knowledge by any means. Most auto-mechanics will tell you your oil should be changed every 3,000 miles or every 3 months, but most cars can last upwards of 5 or 6,000 miles between oil changes and some even more. Consult your owner’s manual before beginning to learn any specific requirements your vehicle may have.
 
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Step 1: Determine Amount and Type of Oil Needed For Your Vehicle

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NOTICE: Filling your engine with the incorrect type of oil will cause unwanted performance issues and/or expensive damage to your vehicle’s engine.

Before  heading to your local auto-shop you must consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual in order to establish the size of your engine, type of oil, and the corresponding amount of oil required.  Look for any notes on the viscosity of the oil as well as if your engine requires synthetic oil as well.

If a hard copy of the owner's manual is not present you should look to the manufacture's website for an electronic copy. 

Step 2: Determine Oil Filter Needed

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The next thing to look for before heading to the auto-shop is the specific oil filter your vehicle requires. This can sometimes be determined by again checking the owner’s manual, but most often you will need to check the book provided at all auto-shops with a list of the required oil filters for each car according to vehicle year, model, and make.

This information can also be found online at websites such as this:
http://www.pureoil.com/pennzoilfilter/default_new.aspx

Step 3: Gather Materials

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DANGER: Should you choose to raise your vehicle do not place any part of your body under the wheels as the possibility of the vehicle falling will result in injury or loss of life.

You now know what kind of and how much oil you will need and the filter type.
In addition to purchasing these essentials you will also need to acquire:
a set of protective old clothing (long sleeved shirt and a pair of durable pants i.e. jeans)
a wrench
a drainage pan (may purchase from auto-store or even use empty plastic wear such as a milk jug)
a funnel
a towel
and jacks or ramps to raise your car up (optional see DANGER reference above)

In considering to use jacks or ramps your vehicle's natural height off the ground will have to be considered.  The uplifted vehicle will be easier to drain, but if you feel uncomfortable with this it may still be possible to change your oil without lifting your vehicle if your vehicle rides high enough for you to gain access underneath.

Step 4: Make Sure Your Engine is Off

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WARNING: If you try to change oil while the vehicle is hot the engine and oil will be hot enough to scald or burn any exposed skin that it comes into contact with.

Ensure that your car engine is off before you begin.

Let your car cool before changing the oil to avoid any possible burn injuries from hot oil and engine surfaces.

Some people like to run their engine a bit before beginning in order to thin out the oil a bit but this is not necessary and can sometimes be counteractive as it can leave traces of dirty oil in your engine that do not get changed when you drain the oil later on.

Step 5: Locate Drainage Plug, Begin Draining Oil

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WARNING:  Do not place head directly under drainage plug to avoid eye injury from draining oil.

CAUTION:  Be sure to have your drain pan under or close enough to pull under the drainage plug/oil filter when you remove the plug or filter to prevent unnecessary mess and environmental hazards.

The oil filter and drainage plug should be located relatively close together underneath your vehicle by the vehicle's drainage pan. Once you have located the fairly large bolt on the bottom of the drainage pan stagger the oil pan off to the side a bit to ensure that only a small amount of oil spills.

Taking the wrench to this drainage plug loosen it up.
Once the drainage plug is loose twist off with your fingers to avoid dropping the bolt into the oil pan.

As the oil is draining check your drainage plug in order to make sure it does need a new washer or o-ring.

After the oil has slowed/stopped draining screw the drainage plug back on with you fingers and tighten once or twice with the wrench.

Step 6: Remove and Replace Filter

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WARNING:  Do not place head directly under drainage plug to avoid eye injury from draining oil.

CAUTION:  Be sure to have your drain pan under or close enough to pull under the drainage plug/oil filter when you remove the plug or filter to prevent unnecessary mess and environmental hazards.

Once the oil has completely drained replace the drainage plug screw.

To remove the oil filter it may be necessary to loosen with a wrench before being able to screw it off with your hands.
Oil filters typically go on easy but can expand over time and make them more difficult to get off.

Again be sure the drainage pan is underneath the filter before beginning  to avoid any mess.
Be sure use a rag to wipe away any old, excess oil you may find and make sure the old filter’s o-ring was not left behind.
Drain the oil from the old filter and dispose of it and place your new filter where the old one was.

You can replace the filter with just your hand, be sure to securely place the filter, but DO NOT over-tightening. You shouldn’t need to tighten more than 3 quarters of a turn after the o-ring contacts the surface.

Step 7: Lower Vehicle Off Jacks/Ramps

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DANGER: For a raised  vehicle do not place any part of your body under the wheels as the possibility of the vehicle falling will result in injury or loss of life.

JACKS
Lowering your car from the Jacks will make it easier to reach the oil cap underneath the vehicle's hood. Once again be sure not to place any body parts underneath the tires at any point of this process in order to avoid serious injury.

Step 8: Add New Oil

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NOTICEEnsure that the oil filter is fastened and that the oil plug is secured back in place before adding new oil to prevent an oil spill.

NOTICE:  Pour oil slowly and check your oil level often to make sure you do not over or under fill your oil.

Locate the oil cap underneath your hood and add the specified amount of oil to the engine using a funnel.
Add a little bit less then the specified amount at first and then check your oil level to see how full it is.

To check your oil level use the dip-stick (will be a rod with a yellow or white grip to pull out of your engine).
Wipe off the dipstick with a cloth or paper towel and then replace it back into the engine to get the most accurate reading.

Check your owner's manual if you are unsure how to read the dipstick, most are pretty straight forward with a full level line and low level line.

The oil tank is full when there is oil up to the upper hash mark on your dipstick level marking.

Secure your oil cap back on when you are finished.

Step 9: Let Engine Run, Look For Leaks

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Start the vehicle and let it run for about 5 minutes. This allows the engine to regain proper oil pressure as well as giving you a chance to see if you have any leaks near the oil plug or filter.

If you see any leaks, stop the car and tighten the plug and filter as needed.

Step 10: Clean Up and Proper Disposal of Old Oil

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Clean up any mess you may have made throughout the process using towel for surfaces and tools. Find an unused jug of some kind to store your old oil in.

A suggestion would be to use the  empty oil jug you now have to store the old oil in.

Be sure to dispose of your oil properly, DO NOT just throw it in the trash or dump it somewhere.

Take it to your local auto-shop or dealership and they will more than willing to take care of it for you free of charge.

Step 11: Next Oil Change, Write Down Mileage

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Check your odometer and write down your mileage somewhere. This will be your reference so you know when you will need to change your oil again in order to keep your engine running at full efficiency.