Introduction: How to Change Oil on a Vehicle (Specifically a Polaris Ranger))

Have you ever wondered how to change the oil in your car? It might be one of the farthest things from your mind, but it is necessary. When left in the engine, old oil can collect dirt and debris and cause the life of the engine to decrease. Some mechanic shops might do it for free, but changing oil is not very hard and can be done at home. With the right parts and maybe a little bit of help from your mechanic, you will be finished and on your way in no time. In this case, I will be demonstrating how to do the process on a Polaris Ranger, as no other vehicles were available at the time. But don't worry, changing the oil on a Ranger is very similar to a regular car, as the steps and other processes are similar.

Step 1: Preparation

The first thing to do is to make sure all the necessary tools and parts required are obtained. It is good to have a rubber filter wrench or a channel lock to take off the old filter and put on a new one. A filter that is compatible with the vehicle and the right amount of oil needed for the vehicle is necessary. The amount of oil the vehicle needs can be found in the owner’s manual. Tools needed are an oil tub or bucket for the old oil to drain into, a wrench to take off the oil plug, and a funnel (if needed) to direct the oil flow into the tank. With the Ranger, I needed a 10 mm socket and impact driver to take off the skid plate on the bottom of the Ranger. This does not necessarily need to be taken off, but it makes it easier to access the filter when it is off. A 6mm Allen wrench was needed to take off the oil plug, and I used a creeper board and ramps to get underneath the vehicle. These may all be different from what may be needed by anyone else; I am just giving a general idea.

Step 2: Draining the Old Oil

The second step is to drive the vehicle up onto ramps or use a jack to elevate the vehicle. Once that is completed, it is time to drain the old oil. Place the oil bucket under the oil pan, take the plug out with the wrench, and the oil should drain out of the oil pan. Once the oil pan is empty, take off the oil filter and dump the oil out of it into the bucket. After all the oil is drained and in a bucket, it should be recycled. Places such as O'Reilly Auto Parts and some mechanic shops might take old oil to recycle. Do not just dump it in the street drain or in a hole in the ground, it still has some use and it is good that it gets recycled. I have oil drums in my shop that get pumped every so often, so I just pour the old oil into a drum and wait for the truck to come and take the old oil to recycle.

Step 3: Replacing the Filter

Once the old oil is drained, put the oil plug back in and replace the old filter. What I learned to do is to prime the new filter by filling it with new oil and putting a little bit around the O-ring on the top. ONLY do this step if the oil filter is vertical, do not do this if it screws on horizontally, as the oil will spill out. When putting the new filter on, make sure to not cross the threads on the filter, as it will not screw on and seal properly. Also, do not put the oil filter on too tight, as the threads could possibly get stripped, and it would also be a pain to try and unscrew it again during the next oil change.

Step 4: New Oil

Finally, fill the oil tank with the proper amount of oil needed for the vehicle. Depending on how the motor is made, a funnel may be needed for pouring. It may not be needed for other motors, but it is good to have it just in case. Once the oil tank is filled properly, the job is finished. Now, drive the vehicle off the ramps, or jack it down, and it is ready for the road! You have successfully changed the oil on your vehicle. The Ranger takes a max of 2 quarts of oil. The proper amount needs to be put in, as too much oil can ruin the pistons, and not enough oil will burn up the engine. It is best to know how much oil goes in before filling up the oil pan, or it will be a guessing game. Using the dipstick will help to determine how much oil is in the oil pan, and will also indicate the condition of the oil.

Step 5: You're Finished!

Changing the oil on a vehicle is not a very difficult task. Once you know how to do it, it becomes easier every time and you won’t have to take your car to a shop whenever you need an oil change. It is recommended to change oil about every three months or 3,000 miles. The Ranger is not used as much as a regular car, so the oil changes differ from a vehicle used on the road more. Usually, it is best to change the oil and the filter on a Ranger every 100 hours, six months, or 1,000 miles. So keep track of your mileage, and use your new knowledge to save time and money.