How to Change Your Car's Oil




Introduction: How to Change Your Car's Oil

There are many moving parts in a combustion engine. Because of this, it is essential that these moving parts are properly lubricated to limit the stress on these parts. Motor oil is the substance that keeps these parts from wearing away and proper oil maintenance is the key to prolonging the life of your car. Over time, dirt and debris accumulate inside an engine. When this occurs, the oil cannot properly do its job, which can ultimately seize the engine itself. It is important to change your oil about every 5,000 miles. This DIY will show you how you can change your oil yourself.

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Step 1: What You Will Need

- Correct amount and weight of oil (specified in your car's manual)
- Correct oil filter (the correct filter will be given to you at any auto parts store)
- Oil catcher
- Oil filter wrench
- Ratchet set
- Funnel
- Car jack (if needed)

Step 2: Drain the Old Oil

Jack up the car if you are unable to get under it. If using a jack, make sure it is at the appropriate lift point as specified in the car's manual. Once you are under the car, locate the oil pan. It is a flat shaped part directly below the engine. When the oil pan is located, locate the drain plug on the oil pan. It is here where the oil will be drained. Place the oil catcher underneath the drainage plug. Using a socket wrench and the appropriate socket size, unbolt the drainage plug. Oil will drain into the oil catcher for a few minutes. When the oil is done draining, tighten the drainage plug back into place.

Step 3: Remove Old Oil Filter

Because the oil that is being changed old and of poor quality, the oil filter will also be changed. Underneath the car, there should be a cylindrical shaped object near the oil pan. This is the oil filter which is usually labeled. Place the oil catcher underneath the oil filter. Using the oil filter wrench, unscrew the oil filter from the engine. Oil will drain from the spot of the oil filter.

Step 4: Insert New Oil Filter

Now that the old filter has been removed, it is time to place in the new oil filter. When purchasing a new oil filter from an automotive parts store, ask an associate for the proper oil filter. You must be able to tell them the year, make, and model of the car. First, hand-tighten the oil filter into place. It is important that after the oil filter contacts the engine block, rotate the oil filter 3/4 of a full rotation. Notice that this is done by hand and not by the oil filter wrench.

Step 5: Add New Oil

It is important that you choose the correct oil viscosity and amount of oil that is appropriate for your car. This is specified in your car manual as well as on the oil cap above the engine. After replacing the oil filter, you can now lower the car if you used the jack. Open the hood and locate the oil cap on the engine. It is designated by the picture above. Using the funnel, slowly pour the correct amount of oil into the engine.

Step 6: Test for Leaks

Place the cap back onto the engine and start the car. Run it for about 30 seconds to a minute. While doing this, look under the car for any visible leaks, particularly from the oil filter and drainage plug. If there are no visible leaks, turn off the engine. Pull out the oil dipstick and wipe the end of it. Insert it back into the engine and take it out. Observe the oil level of the car and if it meets the appropriate level (as specified in the car manual), then you have successfully changed your oil. NOTE: it is important that you dispose the old oil to professionals.

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    3 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Raybo3693, While your Instructable can be seen as a good guide for the absolutely inexperienced enthusiast, there are a few things that can be improved to make a better, more complete procedure. (I have assembled and rebuilt a few High performance and racing engines, and have some tricks under my sleeve!)

    1) Oil is best changed while it is warm to hot, as the viscosity will be appreciably lower, thus helping to make a more complete drainage.

    2) Using appropriate gloves and long sleeves (I use heavy cotton covered with rubber) precludes burns and avoids skin contact. I also get an "Invisible glove" barrier cream that I apply to my hands BEFORE getting under the car: it makes hands cleaning MUCH more easier after finishing the job!

    3) While you can raise the car with a jack (and stands, for safety), I have found after years of oil changing, that a pair of ramps are more convenient and safer, plus quicker too.

    4) [OPTIONAL STEP] While not absolutely necessary, using a good quality (brand) "Oil-Flush" helps to achieve better results and with it the used oil drains faster, so much in fact, that with it you need to place the oil catch pan further away, as the used oil stream will exit more quickly and reach farther away. To use it, you get the engine warm and pour it into the running engine, let it do its job for 5 minutes at fast idle without over revving the engine or driving the car!, then you are ready to remove the oil pan plug. Using an Engine Flush, you'll notice the used oil exist the engine darker than without the product. It is because good ones contain detergent additives and get the engine cleaner. I recommend this specially for Turbocharged/Supercharged engines, or high performance ones. In Turbocharged engines, it is of utmost importance to use Synthetic oil and frequent flushing, as the fine oil passages inside the Turbocharger, together with the higher temperatures can "cook" the oil and produce expensive failures; but using the Oil Flush will benefit most engines. Do NOT use oil flush in severely neglected engines, as it can dislodge some carbon and the poor engine could start making noise or losing cylinder seal, or start dripping oil everywhere! But a reasonably maintained engine will always benefit.

    5) For a more effective use of the time, Don't reinstall the drain plug yet, but continue to remove the used oil filter while the oil pan still drips quite a few drops of dirty oil.

    6) [OPTIONAL] You can take advantage of the occasion, and take out the spark plugs from the engine. Apart from inspecting or changing them, it will help with the next suggestion...

    7) Replace the oil pan drain plug. (As an additional precaution, I suggest to pick up an additional oil plug gasket when buying the oil and filter, as if you find that the plug no longer seals perfectly, you will be enraged to find that you will have to drain again the freshly changed oil!). Install the new Oil filter -Always Replace it!- Before proceeding, check that the new filter's anti-return valve works properly by blowing air into the center hole of its base. You should be able to aspire air, but blowing into the filter should seal a properly working valve. BUT take the additional step of partially FILLING the new filter with fresh new oil. How Much? It depends on the position of the filter in YOUR car: with the filter shown on the Photo, you can fill it completely. An inclined or horizontally positioned filter can be half filled with out spilling any oil on the floor if you are quick and handy and train yourself with the filter empty a couple of times before. This helps enormously with supplying the engine with good oil pressure when you restart the engine again, avoiding several unnecessary seconds to fill the oil galleries and the filter before supplying oil to the bearings.

    Don't forget to moist the Oil Filter gasket with a little fresh oil, as the rubber will slide against the engine better until properly compressed. A completely dry gasket could distort and jam or dislodge, precluding a proper seal. Most new filters display this info on the box, but the Instructable didn't mention it.

    If you took off the spark plugs, that makes much more easier to prime the oil system with the starter, as the engine is free to rotate without compression and without starting yet. Using the starter, turn the engine for say 10 seconds, paying attention to the Oil Pressure gage or "Idiot light" signaling the oil pressure comes up OK. A partially pre-filled oil filter will take less seconds of cranking to fill up, obviously. Refill up to 90% of the oil quantity specified in your car's manual... Take care of NOT overfilling the pan, because oil will be thrown by the revving crankshaft and become full of foam, damaging the engine or the Catalytic converter in seconds.

    8) After reinstalling the spark plugs (if you followed my advice), the fresh new oil will have returned to the oil pan (It needs some minutes and a warm engine to be allow the oil to return to the pan in order to produce correct readings on the dipstick). THEN, you are able to verify that the proper oil level is achieved. Be certain you understand the dipstick marks. The engine should be filled up to the upper mark on the dipstick and no more. Usually, engines accept a quart of oil when the level is at the lower mark of the level range on the dipstick, but smaller engines could take less, so be careful until you have made several oil changes and become familiar with your engine. the car MUST be level and on flat terrain to get proper oil level readings. Restart the engine to perform the described check to be certain there are no leaks.

    9) As I drive a high performance car, I take the time to cut open the used filter to inspect if the used oil was OK, without any trace of metal shavings, dirt or carbon bits. then properly dispose of used oil and filter. Clean the bottom and sides of the oil pan and engine block around the filter, as it is much easier to detect any small leak, or if the engine requires a resealing of the oil pan after thousands of miles.

    10) I suggest you keep an small notebook in the car, writing mileage, date, oil brand and viscosity, in order to have a record of timely oil changes. As an additional help, I use to write date and car mileage on the oil filter itself, in case you misplace your notebook. Those annotations will become very valuable if you decide to sell your carefully maintained car, as the prospective buyer will appreciate you really kept it in top shape!.

    BEST REGARDS, Amclaussen.

    5 Quarts? Mine takes 15 Quarts ;-) So, It's always best to check your owners manual to make sure you use the recommended amount according to manufacturer specifications. All vehicles and engines are different, thus require different quantities, weights, and oil types. But this is a good general write-up. There used to be a guy on the internet that used to Test oil filters and rate them on many different criteria. I don't have the URL at the moment, but he's a great source for the best filters based on their function, durability, failure rates..


    5 years ago

    Great job! One thing I'd like to point out, we have owned many Subaru cars & I have worked in a Subaru repair shop. That being said, I HIGHLY recommend using only a Subaru oil filter when changing your oil. I'm sure there are many people who will think differently, but I have experienced problems when I went with another brand. Hope this helps :)