Introduction: Engine Oil Change


  • Car jack
  • Jack stands
  • Oil drain pan
  • Socket wrench set
  • Oil filter wrench (or necktie/extension/wrench method)
  • New oil (check your manufacturer's specifications for your specific vehicle for appropriate volume and oil weight)
  • New oil filter (as specified by manufacturer)
  • Funnel
  • Nitrile or rubber gloves (optional)
  • Oil absorbent or kitty litter (optional)
  • Paper towels/shop rags (optional)

Step 1: Preparing Your Vehicle for Maintenance

  1. Park your vehicle into a driveway or garage with level ground and sufficient working space.
  2. If the engine is not already warm, let the car idle for a few minutes to heat up the engine oil. CAUTION: HOT OIL CAN CAUSE SEVERE BURNS. DO NOT DRAIN THE OIL IF YOUR VEHICLE'S TEMPERATURE GAUGE IS PAST THE HALF WAY POINT
  3. Put your car in "Park" or first gear (for a manual transmission) and set the parking brake.
  4. Place wheel chalks on either side of your rear tires.
  5. Use your vehicle's lifting jack to lift the front wheels off the ground, as specified by your owner's manual.
  6. Place two jack stands at a secure lifting point underneath your vehicle.
  7. Lower the car jack so the vehicle's weight is resting 100% on the jack stands.

You may remove the car jack from underneath your car if you wish, but I like to leave it in place, just touching the lifting point in case of jack stand failure.


Step 2: Draining the Oil

  1. Pop the hood of your car and secure it in the open and raised position.
  2. Locate your engine oil filler cap and remove it. This will prevent a vacuum from forming while draining the oil and ensure maximum flow rate from your drain port. (Be careful to not allow contaminants to fall into the open oil filler port).
  3. Crawl underneath your vehicle and locate the drain plug on the bottom of your car's oil sump.
  4. Find the correct socket size for the drain plug.
  5. Estimate where the oil might spill out and position the oil drain pan to where it will catch the draining fluid. NOTE: The oil will "shoot" out 6 to 12 inches from the drain port when you initially remove the drain plug. After a few moments, the flow will wane and eventually pour out directly beneath the drain plug, so you may need to adjust the position of the drain pan accordingly.
  6. Using a socket wrench, remove the drain plug. Oil will begin to flow out of the drain port. Adjust the drain pan to capture all of the draining oil.
  7. Once all of the oil has been drained, use a clean towel to wipe the surface of the drain port clean. Inspect the washer or gasket on the drain plug for holes and tears, and replace as necessary.
  8. Screw the drain plug back into the drain port, starting by hand as to not "cross-thread" the plug.
  9. Use a socket wrench to tighten the drain plug and push up to 1/4 turn past tight. If you have a torque wrench, tighten the drain plug to your manufacturer's specified torque rating.

Step 3: Removing the Oil Filter

  1. Place the drain pan directly beneath the oil filter.
  2. Use the oil filter wrench to loosen the oil filter. (Counterclockwise) If you do not have an oil filter wrench and do not wish to purchase one, consult this video:

  3. Once the oil filter is loose enough to unscrew by hand, use your hand to finish removing it. There will be some oil remaining in the filter after removing it, so keep it upright.
  4. Pour the remaining oil into the drain pan and place the filter on a towel. (Some drain pans have a "bench" designed to hold the oil filter while it continues to drip oil. If yours has one, place the oil filter there.)

Step 4: Installing the New Oil Filter

  1. Ensure that the o-ring from the old oil filter has been removed. It is common for the old o-ring to adhere to the engine casing and interfere with the new o-ring from the new filter.
  2. Use your finger to apply a generous amount of clean oil to the new o-ring, as well as the threads of the new oil filter.
  3. Start threading the new oil filter into the threads by hand.
  4. Once hand-tight, use the oil filter wrench to turn it up to, but not exceeding, 1/4 turn more.

Step 5: Adding New Oil

  1. You should already have the hood of your car up and the oil filler cap removed. If not, pop and secure the hood and remove the oil filler cap.
  2. Place the funnel in the oil filler spout.
  3. Take a bottle of new oil (held with the spout on top, to prevent gurgling) and smoothly pour the proper amount of oil into the funnel. (Review the owner's manual to know how much oil to add).
  4. Remove the funnel from the oil filler spout.
  5. Replace the oil filler cap.
  6. Close the hood and fasten it securely shut.

Step 6: Get It Back on the Ground

  1. Remove any tools, towels or anything else that is underneath your vehicle.
  2. If you have spilled any oil onto the ground, put down oil absorbent or kitty litter to absorb the oil before you lower the vehicle.
  3. Use the car jack to raise the vehicle off of the jack stands.
  4. Remove the jack stands from underneath the vehicle.
  5. Slowly lower the car back onto its four wheels.
  6. Remove the wheel chalks from either side of the rear tires.

Step 7: Start It Up!

  1. Wash your hands and clean up a bit before getting into your vehicle.
  2. Start the engine and pay close attention to what you see and hear.
  3. Watch your oil pressure gauge, it should pressurize within a few seconds.
  4. If you gain pressure, then suddenly lose it, you may have left on the old o-ring and installed the new oil filter on top of it. Go back to step one. Also, buy more kitty litter.
  5. Let the engine run for one to two minutes, all while monitoring the oil pressure gauge and your surroundings, then shut off the engine.

Step 8: Check Your Work

Let the oil sit for five to 10 minutes, then use the dipstick to check your oil level. If it is between the FULL and EMPTY indicators, congratulations! You have completed a successful oil change.

Step 9: Record Your Mileage

Be sure to record the mileage that reads on your odometer, as well as the date of the oil change. It is good practice to write it down on the inside cover of your owner's manual. Some owner's manuals have a service record spreadsheet that you can fill out.

It is important to maintain a good service record of your vehicle's maintenance.