How to Change Your Oil





Introduction: How to Change Your Oil

It is recommended that you change your oil every 3,000 miles or every 3 months, whichever comes first.

Estimated cost:
Oil $10-12
Filter $7

Estimated time: 30 minutes to an hour

Required Tools:
Car Jack or ramp to raise car
Crescent Wrench to remove bolts
A container to drain used oil
Towels, or rags of some sort (it can get messy...)

A funnel is useful, but not essential

Step 1: Identify Oil and Filter Required

Type of Oil
Identify in your owners manual the viscosity (i.e the thickness or type e.g. 10W-30) and the amount of oil your car requires. The average price for one quart of oil is $2.50.

Oil Filter
The type of oil filter you need can be found in either your owner's manual or your local auto parts store can direct you to the right type.

Step 2: Raise Your Car

Raise your car so that you have enough room to work underneath. You can use either a jack or ramps. (If you are not sure how to use your jack, consult your owners manual.)

CAUTION: It may be a good idea to have someone help you if you are using ramps--you don't want to drive off the front of them.

CAUTION!!!: Be very careful working on cars that are raised on a jack or ramps. Make sure that the parking brake is on, and that the car is secure.

Step 3: Drain the Oil

Caution: Do not begin to work under car until the engine has had sufficient time to cool.

Locate oil plug at the bottom of the oil pan.

Place a container under the plug to catch the oil

Have some rags on hand, this is a messy step

Use the crescent wrench to remove the oil plug

Step 4: Remove Oil Filter

This is also a messy step, keep those rags handy...

Locate the Oil Filter
While the oil is draining, locate the oil filter. If your car is front wheel drive, the oil filter will be on the front or back of the engine. If your car is rear wheel drive, it will be on either the left or the right side of the engine.

Remove the Oil Filter
Unscrew the oil filter from the side of the engine.

Step 5: Replace With a New Oil Filter

Screw new oil filter into the place where you just removed the old one.

Step 6: Replace Oil Plug

Check the draining oil periodically. The oil is done draining when it is dripping less than one drop every couple seconds. Replace oil plug when the oil is finished draining.

Step 7: Put New Oil In

Find the oil tank on the top of the engine. Remove the cap, and start filling with oil. A funnel is useful in this step, but not required. Be sure to add only the number of quarts that your owners manual calls for. Put cap back on after you finish filling the tank.



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    23 Discussions

    Run the car 'till it's hot. That gets all the nasty goo that you want to get out into suspension in the oil. Don't let it cool fully, just until you can confortably get near the engine.

    2 replies

    also makes almost all the oil drain out in as little as 5-6 minutes instead of 30

    True, you can check your coolant temperature gauge, generally cars run at about 195 or 180 degrees fahrenheit. So if you take average running temperature and cut that in half you can get a warm flow at about 90ish degrees instead of a scalding quick flow at full running temperature. On many of my cars the average running temperature on the gauge is half of the gauge, i let it cool til it's at about a quarter of the gauge and I've not been burned YET! and I also don't have to wait a half century for the oil pan to fully drain.

    I happen to know even with small hand and arms the oil filter on a Kia Rio 04 is a tight squeeze to get the hand up behind the engine and firewall. hopefully no one else is unfortunate enough to own such a car.

    One more thing- about changing the filter. If your filter happens to get clogged (ie by being used for more than one oil change cycle..) there is a bypass valve in the motor that will simply allow the oil to skip the filter and keep on lubricating the engine. That's a safety measure- so the motor is not denied oil if the filter plugs. But it's also a good reason to change the filter at every oil change. :)

    Several people have weighed in with useful information. I do this every day for a living- in a dealership so I have a nice lift. But I also do this at home now and then for family or friends. A couple of things I'd like to underscore: NEVER use only a jack- always use jackstands. I prefer a jack and stands over ramps because ramps slide, wheels spin on them, it's possible to drive off the end, and they can tip sideways if the wheels are not spaced in the center. ANYTIME you have a car on any kind of lift, be sure it's stable before you crawl under it. When you have it ready, give the vehicle a firm push before you go under it- if it stays put, you're okay. You would rather have it fall on the ground than fall upon you.

    ABSOLUTELY! There is almost a quarter of a gallon of dirty used oil inside the filter, just waiting a cold day morning when you are rushing to work, thus the cold oil increases its viscosity several times from the cold, and the fast turning engine pumps the filter contents around the pressure relief valve directly into the fresly changed oil !!! ALWAYS CHANGE THE FILTER TOGETHER WITH THE OIL CHANGE, each and every time.

    Also, some particulates can get through an old filter(like metal particulates) that can damage your engine, that's mostly in a "worst case scenario" though.

    You don't have to, but it is greatly suggested especially as waste particulates in the filter can slow oil flow which will reduce the efficiency of the sump system. Not only that but you will be running clean new oil through a nasty old dirty filter... it's like washing with new fluid but an old dirty rag.


    By cutting the filter not only you will be able to look for metallic shavings or other contaminants, but it will allow you to MEASURE the actual paper surface of several brands of filters. You will be surprised to find some quite expensive brands that have a lot less paper than others. Quality of the pressure relief valve and other aspects. Don't be fooled to buy "original" oil filters from car manufacturer, some are as bad as possible and actually are made by filter companies at the lowest possible cost!

    I use Wynn's Oil System Cleaner put into the used oil before draining it, because idling the engine for 5 minutes with this product helps maintain all the small oil passages in my turbocharged engines open and free from carbon deposits. Draining is also helped because this product lowers viscosity a little more, and engine is protected because it contains extreme pressure additives. (Con't use it in a completely new engine to help the piston rings seat properly!). I was surprised to find a mexican made oil filter with better internals and much more paper surface than otherwise more famous ("Infamous") brands, specially one that has an orange color paint finish and a rubberized end to help with hand grip... looked fine on the outside, but was the worst of several inside!.

    By oil tank I think you mean rocker cover or oil pan.

    Make sure to check the oil drain plug gasket, if it is tattered buy a new one most of them aren't more than .75 USD.

    If your oil filter is upside down(round side up), punch a hole in the round part and wait 5 minutes, trust me, it saves you a huge mess.

    2 replies

    If it isn't you can also slowly unscrew it so that the oil leaks out and wait for it to mostly drain, then tentatively unscrew it and let it drain in your pan or bucket, that's helped me because most of the time the filters have been sideways on the oil pan.

    true that! you wouldn't guess it before doing it yourself... the first time I did an oil change, I mistakenly upended the filter and was QUITE surprised at how much oil was inside of it! ...and how much mess it caused! haha

    Never work under a car supported only by a jack. Jacks fail. Always use jackstands, or get your "I'm a pancake" t-shirt now.

    here is the quick way of seeing oil level: find a loop on the tank unscrew it pull it out(it is attached to a stick which also comes out) wipe stick dip it remove it if it is in the center mark it is ok if on top mark you overfilled it(transporters hold 1.5 lt for centermark) if on bottom mark you need more oil reinstall the measuring stick(anyone can figure this out)

    You should always 'wet' the rubber ring on the inside of the new oil filter with fresh oil before installing it. This helps maintain the life of the rubber o-ring and prevents leaks. I like the surgical gloves, have to get me some of those :).