How to Change Your Engine Oil




Introduction: How to Change Your Engine Oil

The goal of these instructions is to guide you through the process of changing your motor oil.

Some details such as filter location and drain bolt location may vary from automobile to automobile.

This tutorial is organized into six steps. These steps have been described through years of my own experience and from calling upon the combined experience of friends and other sources of advice over the years. After following these simply steps anyone with basic hand tool skills will be able to successfully change their own oil whenever needed.

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Step 1: 1: Gather Supplies

The first step of any job worth doing is the gathering of the necessary supplies. Fortunately, this job is rather simple and the list of needs is a short list.

• Fresh oil
• Fresh oil Filter
• Oil Filter Wrench
• Wrench for Oil Drain Bolt
• Oil Drain Pan
• Clean-Up Supplies for spilt oil

To begin with, new oil will be needed. Oil brand can be chosen by personal preference and oil grade should be chosen as recommended by the automobile’s user’s manual. A new oil filter will also be needed. Again the oil filter brand can be chosen by personal preference. I would recommend a filter that has been designed to be tightened by hand (one that has a coarse or grip-able body) otherwise you may require an oil filter wrench also. If an oil filter wrench is unavailable you may be able to use a large pipe wrench, or a pair of channel lock pliers, if this is the case be extremely careful not to crush the body of the filter. You will also need the appropriate size wrench for the oil drain bolt and an oil pan to catch the old oil while draining. You may also require some paper towels and oil drying mix to clean any spilt oil.

Step 2: 2: Prepare

With the engine turned off remove the oil filler cap to prevent vacuum from building inside the engine while the oil drains. Locate the drain bolt on the oil pan and place the oil draining pan under the drain bolt. Jack the car if you need extra clearance.

Whenever jacking a car be sure to follow safety procedure. Make sure to check jack equipment for leaks and only lift a car with the jack in the proper jack location (see automobile user’s manual)

Note:I have seen the recommendation to run the engine before draining the oil as a way of warming the oil and expediting its draining. Although this does no harm to the engine I would refrain from doing this unless the oil is extremely cold as you will effectively scatter the oil throughout the engine while it runs reducing the likelihood of draining ALL the oil.

Step 3: 3: Out With the Old

Using the proper size wrench, remove the drain bolt and let the oil drain into the drain pan completely. This may take several minutes. After the oil has drained you can removed the oil filter, also making sure to remove the old oil filter gasket.

After the oil has ceased to flow from the drain you can prepare you supplies for refilling. The proper amount of fresh oil can be staged for filling. Any oil drying mix that is needed can be spread and any small spills under the hood can be wiped up to prevent the unpleasant smell and reality or under-hood burning oil.

After the last bit of oil has drained out you may replace the oil drain bolt being careful that the threads on the bolt itself and on the drain hole are clean.

Step 4: 4: in With the New

Now you are ready to pour fresh oil in your engine, before pouring new oil be sure to install a new oil filter. This is where a grip-able filter is nice and caution with any type of oil filter wrench is essential. If the filter is crushed or dented during tightening the internal structure can be broken or dislodged. Fill the new filter ¾ full of fresh oil before installation. Also by spreading a very thin layer of oil on the filter’s rubber seal you can be sure not to tear the seal during installation. Turn the filter until it is tight and then about ¼ turn more. Be careful not to over tighten the filter, in the case where the oil filter screw is ruined (threads striped out) the entire engine may require removal.

With the oil filter in place and the drain bolt replaced you can fill the engine with the approved amount of oil through the engine’s oil filler. A funnel may make this step much easier, depending on oil filler location. Most oil bottles are designed to limit gurgling and make pouring the fresh oil a smooth task. When you are finished filling the engine with the proper amount of fresh oil you can replace the oil filler cap. Keep your empty oil bottles.

Note: A strong magnet can be attached to the exterior of the oil pan, or to the oil filter to attract and trap metal particles and shaving circulating with the oil.

Step 5: 5: Clean-Up / Recycle

At this point you can lower the car if it was jacked.

As with any maintenance be sure to use oil dry mix to soak-up any soiled oil and paper towels to wipe away any oil that may have fallen of engine surfaces. Using the empty oil bottles from the fresh oil pour the dirty oil from the drain pan for disposal.

Most auto parts stores and some local dealerships will take spent oil free of charge for recycling. Make sure to replace any trim or under-car plastic panels that were removed for access during the oil change.

Also make sure not to forget the cardinal rule of auto maintenance, clean and put your tools away.

Step 6: 6: Tracking Your Maintenance

That’s it you’re all done, after finishing an oil job you should take note of your mileage. Mileage can be recorded in a maintenance journal or on the car itself in a sticker or some other handy place. The main idea behind recording mileage is to stay on track with scheduled maintenance.

Motor oil should be changed about every three thousand miles. It may also be of use to record the grade of oil that was used in the replacement. This way consistency in oil grade can be achieved. All repairs and preventative maintenance should be recorded. 

Step 7: Reflection

By following the directions in this instructable you should be able to change your motor oil with ease. While there are not huge price saving associated with this skill I believe the sense of self reliance and latitude over choosing exactly which brand products to use are worthwhile compensation. 

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    6 Discussions


    4 years ago

    Great article! Thanks!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    you can find better magnets from disassembling a worn hard disk. Pour some fresh oil from above before closing the drain bolt , I use a huge syringe and a silicon pipe, and you will see some more gunk coming out


    9 years ago on Step 2

    SORRY, but I would NOT do it that way...
    If you really want to perform the best oil change procedure, you plan on changing the oil after a trip returning to home, thus the oil will be at operating temperature and its viscosity will be quite lower than at ambient temperature, which will facilitate an almost complete drain from the engine, removing the most contaminants along with it. Operating temperature needs at least a 20 minute engine operation, then it is best to plan ahead and take advantage of doing some driving instead of only running the engine stationary and polluting the air needlessly! Reaching operating temperature means that all the engine is throughly heated and that almost ALL of the used oil will drain to the pan in a matter of minutes. You would be surprised to find that more than half of a quart of dirty oil is still adhered to the engine internals when the oil is at room temperature instead of througly warmed. I have dissassembled engines that were not drained at running temp, to find many table spoons of cold oil attached to the inside of the pan, forming a dirty mess.

    As I own TWO turbocharged cars, and the turbochargers have very small and extremely hot oil passages, I use an oil cleaning fluid that helps to get the inside of the engine very clean and also facilitate the draining, because it lowers the viscosity an extra amount, so that the used oil comes out faster and more completely than only draining it. This product is called "Oil system Cleaner" by WYNN'S; but there are others similar. This comes in a small violet colored bottle and is added to the USED oil five minutes before draining, with the engine running at fast idle and without driving or subjecting the engine to any load, just fast idling around 1,200 to 1,500 RPM's, to best clean all the engine internal parts. Complete draining can be achieved by waiting with the plug removed only 15 minutes instead of two or more hours by using the Oil System Cleaner. You will notice that the used oil comes out looking darker when using this product because it contains some detergents and helps to remove some carbon deposits. Engine wear is avoided because the cleaner contains some extreme pressure additives, so it has shown to me that it is completely safe to use, as long as you don't load the engine or rev it above fast idle. I've followed this routine for many years and have complete confidence in its advantages over the quick and careless standard oil change procedure followed at most oil change places, while saving enought to buy the oil cleaner and the best quality synthetic motor oil and best made oil filters for my cars. Another Tip: on some cars, the original oil filter is quite small, so that you can easily find a LARGER filter that will have the same base and still fit in the available space... therefore you will be able to put 6 instead of 5 quarts of oil or so, which will permit to extend the oil change interval accordingly and save some oil changes along the years. If your car hasn't an oil plug magnet, you can install a strong speaker magnet to the underside or the side of the oil pan with high temp epoxy (like those with steel or aluminum dust load), to better catch any magnetic particles riding on the oil.

    Following these guidelines, the interior of my engines have been kept as pristine and clean as the best racing engine teams have theirs, after several years and in time to rebuild, my friends have been surprised by looking how clean my oil pan comes out, copared the theirs! Best luck, amclaussen.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Secretly, I was hoping that this Instructable would consist of two steps: 1) Buy electric car. 2) No more changing motor oil. Seriously though, it's really nice seeing Instructables like these that describe everyday processes. Hopefully it encourages people to stop paying too much to have a shop change their oil for them. You're next one should be on rotating the tires since that should usually be done at the same time as an oil change.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Step 4: most drainplugs are already magnetised.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Hmm... I've never had a car with a magnetized drain plug. They've all had separate magnets in the bottom of the oil pan that I've cleaned up whenever I've replaced the pan gasket.