How to Properly Change Your Vehicles Oil




About: Here I am!

What you'll need:


+ Clean oil in the specific weight that you vehicle requires

+ (Optional) Oil additive such as the Engine Restore product I am using

+ New oil filter that will fit your specific vehicle


+ Car jack / Floor jack

+ Jackstand or Safety block

+ Wrench or Ratchet / Socket combo that will fit the bolt on your oil pan

+ (Optional) Oil filter wrench

+ Container to catch the old oil

+ Old rag

Teacher Notes

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Step 1: First Things First; Checking Your Oil:

Do the following after the vehicle has been shut off and the keys are out of the ignition.

- Having your vehicle shut off is imperative for checking your oil.

- Removing the keys from the ignition will prevent the vehicles cooling fan from starting in most models.

- Be sure your car is in Park (P) for automatic and/or Parking brake is set for a manual transmission.

1. Open your vehicles hood and set the prop-rod to keep it safely open.

2. Locate the oil dipstick and pull up slowly to remove. Do not twist.

3. With a clean rag wipe the gauge at the end of the dipstick clean of oil.

4. Slowly reinsert the dipstick into the oil tube and remove slowly.

5. Take note of how much oil is shown on the dipsticks gauge.

6. Repeat 3-5 to get a mean average of the amount of oil in the oil pan.

7. Take note of the color of the oil.

Oil color usually ranges from a honey yellow to a light brown when it is clean. It is not always necessary to change your oil every 3000 miles depending on your driving habits and age of the vehicle.

  • If the oil is still relativly clean and full do not worry about changing the vehicles oil.
  • If the oil is still relatively clean but below the full mark, just worry about bringing the oil up to full.

8. Replace the dipstick and make sure it is secured all the way into the oil tube.

Step 2: Jacking Up the Vehicle:

I cannot stress this enough, with the car parked, be sure the parking brake is set! An accidentally moving vehicle is a tremendously dangerous vehicle. While we are on the topic of safety, it is always a good idea to use a jackstand or block and not solely rely on the jack to keep the vehicle up. I have seen vehicles fall and damage is always done; sometimes to the mechanic.

Be safe.

1. Place the vehicle in park and apply the parking brake. Be sure the vehicle is resting on level ground.

2. Set the jack under the front quarter panel (under the front of the front door) and jack the car up until you have enough room to work under it. It may be necessary to jack up either the passenger OR the drivers side, depending on the vehicle and where the oil pan is located underneath.

3. Be sure to apply the jackstand or a set of blocks to keep the car up in the event of a jack failure.

**Picture 3: Note there is oil on the asphalt, it was from another vehicle being parked here. Be aware that oil will stain your driveway and is bad for the environment. Please use a piece of cardboard or other drop material if you feel the need.

Step 3: Oil Filler Cap:

If you have been driving the vehicle in the last hour, allow the engine to cool with the hood open. Hot parts / oil could cause injury or burns.

1. Open your vehicles hood.

2. Locate and remove you oil filler cap, it will almost always have an oil symbol on it. (See picture) Removing this cap will allow your engine to vent pressure and drain the old oil more smoothly and quickly.

3. Set your oil cap aside, avoid dropping it down into the engine.

Step 4: Old Oil Removal:

1. Place the oil catch container under the vehicle.

2. While laying under the vehicle; place the oil catch container under the oil pan drain bolt.

3. Loosen the drain bolt with a wrench or ratchet/socket combo.

4. Make sure you do the last few twists and bolt removal by hand as to not have it fall into the oil catch container.

5. Allow the oil to drain completely from the oil pan and engine.

6. Once complete, replace the oil pan drain bolt and retighten with a wrench or ratchet/socket combo. Do not over tighten.

** If you have a concrete or paved drive way, or are worried about making a mess in general, you can place a large piece of cardboard down before you drain your oil.

Step 5: Preparing the New Oil Filter:

Oil filters have porous gauze or paper filters in them. The new filter will need to be prepped and have the internal filter material absorb some of the oil and reduce the amount of air that is introduced to the vehicles oil system.

1. Holding the filter level pour enough oil to fill the filter about 1/2 way full. Turn the filter to about 45 degrees and rotate it around in your hand to coat the inside of the filter housing.

  • On engines that the filter screws in horizontally, only refill the filter about 1/2 way after the previous steps oil has been mostly absorbed.
  • On engines that the filter screws in right side up, vertically, go ahead and fill the filter with oil.

2. The rubber seal around the top of the oil filter needs to be conditioned as well. There are two reasons for doing this; this will keep the rubber seal from cracking/rotting and it will lubricate the rubber and enable a more proper fit against the engine.

  • To condition this seal, take a small amount of clean motor oil on the tip of your finger and simply rub it on the seal in a circular motion.

Step 6: Oil Filter Replacement:

1. Locate the old oil filter. It can be either under the car or on the side of the engine. It may be aligned as horizontal or vertical.

2. Once the filter is located, remove by unscrewing.

3. Place the old oil filter to the side.

4. Screw the new filter on. (The quicker the better in horizontal placements, as less oil will be spilled.) The filter should be tight enough to seal against the engine, but do not over tighten. An oil filter wrench can be used to assist in oil filter replacement but not necessary.

Recycle the old filter and oil in a responsible manner. (Most autopart chains will except old oil and filters).

Step 7: Refilling Oil:

Go back under the hood to the oil fill nozzle, where you took the oil filler cap off of back in step three (3).

1. (Optional) If you have an oil additive go ahead and add it to the oil fill nozzle.

2. Insert a funnel into the oil fill nozzle.

3. Slowly add the vehicle manufacturers advised amount of oil about a quart at a time. * If you added an oil additive, take this amount of fluid into account while filling the engine.

4. When you start getting close to the recommended amount of oil, check the level of oil via the oil dipstick as you did in step one.

5. Keep adding small amounts and checking the level on the dipstick.

6. When the level indicated on the oil dipstick shows at the full mark, then your engine oil is filed to the proper level. *Do not overfill! (Overfilling can cause unnecessary stress and pressure on the engine, degrading performance and damaging the engine and/or engine seals).

Step 8: Finishing Touches:

1. Be sure both the oil filler cap and oil dipstick are secured!

2. Crank your car and allow it to idle for a few minutes to circulate oil into and cavities such as your oil filter.

3. After shutting your car off, recheck the oil level and add additional oil if necessary.

How to close the hood so that it latches.

A proper way to close your vehicles hood ( most vehicles without hydraulic rams / actuators ):

1. Grasp your vehicles hood firmly, remove the prop rod and return it back to it's holder.

2. Bring the hood down to about 12inches from its closed position.

3. Release the hood from your grasp and let the weight of the hood (and gravity) do the rest.

4. The hood should latch and be closed safely.

I know this is trivial but I have seen too many times, people either not closing their hoods properly. Either it won't latch or they damage with the hood or strain the hinges by slamming it. I have seen a few people close their hoods by pushing down until latched, which can bend the hood.

There you have it, an internally cleaner and happier engine in your vehicle!

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    18 Discussions


    4 years ago

    Thank you for your very comprehensive and easy to understand instructable! I really appreciated the detail and pictures. The comments by other readers were helpful too. I think I can do this!

    Klayton Kress

    4 years ago

    I would consider deleting or modifying your statement about the cooling fan. On most cars, the cooling fan will cut on whenever it senses the coolant temperature gets above the specified temperature regardless of the key being in the ignition. Most cars have a warning on the radiator stating this.

    I don't want anyone losing fingers because they thought they were safe because of your statement.

    1 reply
    Klayton KressKlayton Kress

    Reply 4 years ago

    I forgot to mention this in the last post, I would add to your oil adding steps that it can take several minutes for oil to settle in the pan especially if it's cold. Hot engine oil can take 3-5 minutes to settle and cold oil can take 2-3 times as long. A good habit is to add the recommended volume of oil and then clean up your tools, place the old oil in your oil storage container and take the cat of the jacks. By the time this is all done, the oil should have settled.


    4 years ago

    When i changed the oil on my civic i blowed on the opening for oil input to drain it faster.
    EN not my first language :(


    4 years ago

    Also try putting a megenent on the new filter to catch small particles of metal witch in the long run could damage you're vehicle.. Great instructable by the way

    3 replies

    They sell after market magnets shaped to fit 1/2 way around an oil filter. It's not a bad idea. Actually my current vehicle has a magnetic tip on the drain plug, so that's another way of catching engine debris.

    The oil filter should catch most of the metal flecks on it's own. Actually there really shouldn't be very much metal in your oil at all**... but most of the metal is heavier than the oil and should settle at the bottom of your oil pan, having a magnet down at your drain plug makes more sense to me.

    ** I did have the most beautiful orange metallic oil in my Firebird for awhile after I installed new roller rockers and they were being worn in. They were anodized orange aluminum.


    4 years ago

    I would recommend not jacking up the vehicle as to properly drain the old fluid and especially if to drain any oil flush. if you need to because you have a lowered vehicle then make sure you remove the jack while draining or lift the full car evenly otherwise using flush would be pointless as you will be leaving around a half quart or more of old fluid

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I would agree with this if your vehicle has a forward facing or side oil plug. This vehicle has a rear facing oil plug so it will drain just fine. - But worth a mention!

    Oh, be sure that when lowering the jack during draining that you do not smash the oil catch container. That's a real mess.

    Thanks for the input.


    You're right when you say it isn't necessary to change your oil every 3000 miles anymore. Really its now a matter of checking your owners manual. Mine says every 5000 miles with regular oil and up to 10,000 with synthetic. I usually use synthetic and notice it getting discolored around 7-8K miles which is when I change it. It obviously costs more than dino oil, but lasting 2-3 times as long it works out almost the same.

    Also, if the oil is clean but below the full mark and you don't have a rotary engine (which are designed to consume oil) you may want to check for leaks. There shouldn't really be any loss of oil from the time its added new and the time you have to change the dirty stuff.

    1 reply

    The amount of oil remaining is greatly determined by the age of the vehicle and the miles on it. Older vehicles with higher mileage tend to suffer from varying amounts of blow by, where oil will blow past the piston rings and be burned by the engine. People with lower mileage engines, but who have a lead foot will experience this as well. Traces my be minute enough that there is no noticeable smoke in the exhaust, but will still consume oil over time.


    4 years ago on Step 7

    Turn the oil bottle so that the spout is at the top when pouring it. This allows air to flow in freely and eliminates the mess causing "Glug Glug".


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Good instructions. That opening picture of the oil filter sitting face down on the ground makes me cringe though. I am hoping it was in a clear plastic container or something. A couple points to add whenever possible wipe dirt away from filter contact area of block being careful not to drop dirt into opening before placing the new filter. It is a good idea to have paper towels handy, along with oil spill material to wick up any spillage on driveway. Then one last thing that I found to be great. My old funnels seem to collect so much dust/grime that I shudder to run clean oil through them. The perfect solution is to take a 2 liter soda bottle, slice off the top 4-5 inches, cut off the cap ring, wash it out with water and wipe dry. There you have it a perfect disposable oil change funnel.

    1 reply

    The filter in the 1st picture still had a plastic cover over the opening, but I can see the reason to cringe. Actually I have used the soda bottle method a few times too. The bottle would actually screw into my Firebird making it almost spill proof.


    4 years ago

    A tip my dad told me the higher grade oil cost more but u have to change it less often so it might cost more but u r saving money