Introduction: How to Do an Oil Change

Tools Required

  • A ratchet and a socket set (13-19mm)
  • Oil filter wrench
  • Oil Drain Pan
  • 2 jack stands
  • Floor jack or ramps
  • Latex gloves (optional)
  • Safety glasses (optional)

Materials Required

  • Oil Filter
  • Motor Oil
  • Oil Drain Plug Gasket
  • Funnel
  • Empty Jug(s)
  • Shop Towels

Safety tips:

  • Don’t work under a car supported by a jack alone – use jack stands.
  • Oil should be warm before changing. If your car is hot or has been running, let it cool. If it was sitting cold - run it for a few minutes.
  • When it’s time to install the new oil filter, only hand-tighten the filter - never use a wrench to tighten it.

Step 1: Pre-oil Change

  • Review your vehicle manual to note what type of oil, how much is required, where your drain plug may be located, analyze what tools you have on hand, and check on any other supplies you may need before making your first (and hopefully only!) trip to the automotive store. Some stores may have a tool loaning program to help out with this sort of project.

Step 2: Prepare Your Vehicle

  • Start your vehicle and pull into a covered or dry area that is safe and level.

Safety tip! Be sure not to idle your vehicle inside a garage or other enclosed structure

Step 3: Prepare the Vehicle

  • To lift your vehicle, use your floor jack to jack it up on the frame of the car. In this case, jack it up from the front. Then place jack stands on the jack points, which can be found in your vehicle owner’s manual

Step 4: Be Prepared

  • Prepare your workspace. Have your tools, parts, and supplies within handy reach of the front of your vehicle.
  • Put on your PPE! (Personal Protective Equipment – gloves, glasses, and clothes you won’t care about getting dirty). This will ensure you’re not caught off guard by any drips or splashes that may occur

Safety tip! Keeping things within reach will ensure you don’t have to frequently move in and out underneath the vehicle

Step 5: Pre-oil Change

  • Locate your oil cap, oil plug, and oil filter. Each vehicle is different, so if you’re unsure where any of these are located on your specific model, take some time to review your vehicle manual or perform some quick internet searches to get the information you need.
  • The engine oil drain plug, which should be noticeable is screwed at the bottom of your oil pan. Most oil filters should also be screwed in nearby the drain plug underneath the car.

Step 6: Remove the Oil Cap

  • Remove the oil cap – set in a safe place. You definitely don’t want to lose this! This will help empty out the used oil faster.

Step 7: Drain the Oil

  • Place the oil drain pan almost underneath the oil drain plug since the oil will flow from the side and not vertically.
  • Take your ratchet with the appropriate socket size and unbolt the oil drain plug. Remember, left loose and righty tighty. While the oil is draining, take the oil drain plug and clean it with some shop towels, then replace the oil drain plug gasket.
  • Wipe down the area around the oil drain plug, then screw the oil drain plug back into the oil pan, but only until tight.

Safety tip! We don’t want to over-torque the plug because it can strip the threads and cause damage.

Step 8: Replace Your Oil Filter

  • Place the oil drain pan under the oil filter.
  • Use your oil filter wrench to loosen the oil filter. You might want to be quick about this part since it could get a little messy. The oil will be gushing out vertically and quickly when you loosen it.
  • After the oil drains, grab your new oil filter and rub a little oil around the gasket. Doing so will prevent any oil leaks and make it easier to come off the next time you do an oil change.

Safety tip! Only hand-tighten the oil filter because over-tightening can cause an oil leak.

Step 9: Clean Up & De-jack Car Safely

  • Pour the used oil into the empty jug(s) and seal your oil filter into a plastic bag or newspaper. If you happen to have any oil leaks, you can use any material that is absorbent such as kitty litter. Wipe down your tools if dirty and dispose of any trash.
  • To dispose of the used oil and oil filter, find an oil recycling center near you.

Step 10: Pour in New Motor Oil & Check Oil Level

  • Place your funnel through the hole where you took off your oil cap.
  • Grab your new motor oil and pour until you have 1 quart left. Most cars take around 5 to 8 quarts of oil.
  • Start up your car for about 30 seconds, then turn it off. Let your car rest for 5 to 10 minutes so the engine oil can settle back down.
  • Wipe your dipstick with a shop towel and see where the oil level is at. If the oil has not reached the full line, pour a little bit of oil and repeat the same process until it is full.

You now have gained some valuable mechanical knowledge and hands-on experience on your vehicle. You’ve also learned how to do your own oil change safely and effectively!