How to Change the Oil in your Car

Jerry WalchStarred Page By Jerry Walch, 6th Jan 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1jflip7x/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Transport>Repair and Maintenance>Cars

According to the Federal Highway Administration, men drive an average of 16,550 miles per year, and women drive an average of 10,142 miles per years. In terms of basic car maintenance that translates to between 3 to 5 oil changes, one of which includes changing out the engine's oil filter. In dollars that averages out to between $105 and $175 per year. You could do it yourself for between $24 and $40 a year, after the initial investment for tools and equipment.

Motor Oil

Before you start get the owner's manual and check the type of oil recommended by the auto maker and the number of quarts required. If you do not have the owner's manual, ask the counterman at your auto parts supplier to look it up for you. As for the type of oil, a good rule of thumb is to go with a quality 10W-30 oil if you live in a temperate climate or a 5W-30 motor oil if you live in a colder climate.

Service ramps.

You will need to purchase a set of ramps to raise your car high enough for you to slither underneath the engine. Never, ever use the jack that came with your car to raise and support it while working under it. Jacks are not meant for this purpose and it is dangerous. The car can easily slip off the jack and crush you beneath it. A good set of ramps costs less than $40.

Other tools and supplies that you will need.


  • An oil drain pan—an old dishpan or similar container will work fine if you are on a tight budget.
  • A 12-inch adjustable wrench, commonly refereed to as a Crescent Wrench.
  • An oil filter wrench.
  • Funnel or snap on oil can pour spout.
  • Work light.
  • Auto mechanics gloves.
  • Safety goggles.
  • Shop rags.

Drive the car up on the ramps.

his is the only time you will need a helper, so recruit you wife, husband, friend, someone to guide you up on the ramps. Take it slow with one foot covering the brake pedal because you do not want to drive off the high-end of the ramps. Driving completely over the ramps can cause serious damage to your car. With the front wheel securely settled in the wheel depressions, put the car in “Park” and set the “Emergency Brake.” Your car is now safe for you to crawl under it.
Do not shut the engine off right away after putting the car up on the ramps. Let the engine run at idle for a few minutes before shutting it off because you want the oil hot before you drain it.

Draining the old oil.


  • Wearing old clothes, your mechanic's gloves and goggles, slide under the car and place the oil drain pan under and slightly to the rear of the drain plug in the engine's oil pan.
  • Loosen the drain plug with the wrench and then finish removing it with your fingers. Keep your face and body to one side when removing the drain plug because the hot oil can cause serious burns.
  • After the oil has completely drained out of the engine, replace and tighter the drain plug being careful to not cross-thread it or over tighten it.
  • Slide the oild drain over under the oil filter(if you are replacing the filter) and loosen the filter with the oil filter wrench. Finish unscrewing the filte by hand. Use caution here because the filter will be full of hot oil.
  • Before screwing the new filter in place, wipe the engine mating surface clean with a shop rag. Before screwing the new filter in place, coat its gasket with new oil. Screw the new filter in place until it it mates with the engine mating surface and then give it one additional quarter turn by hand.

Add the new oil.


  • Using a funnel or oil can pour spout, pour the new oil in the engine. If you changed the oil filter, you will need to add an additional one-half to one-quart of oil to bring up to the full mark on the dipstick.
  • With the car still up on the ramps, start the engine and run it at idle for a few minutes while checking for any oil leaks around the new oil filter. If you see any leaks, tighten the filter a little more, wipe off the oil, and check again for leaks.

The finishing touches.


  • Remove everything from under the car—oil drain pan, drop light, wrenches, etc.
  • Close the hood and then slowly back the car down off the ramps.
  • Celebrate a job well done by taking your helper out to dinner.

Tags

Automobile, Car, Car Engine, Change Filter, Change Oil, Drain Oil, Jack, Oil, Oil Drain Pan, Oil Filter, Safety, Service Ramps

Meet the author

author avatar Jerry Walch
Jerry Walch is a 70 year old freelance writer for hire living in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He has been writing since the late 1970s, and writes for both the print and online media. He specializes in

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Comments

author avatar Denise O
6th Jan 2012 (#)

Sounds like you have done this before, maybe around a hundred times. LOL
As always, just a great page, all the way around. I hope all is well. When I get a chance I will email ya. I have just been so darn busy, sorry. Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Jerry Walch
6th Jan 2012 (#)

I understand busy, Denise!. Emauil me when you can.

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author avatar Tess Irons
6th Jan 2012 (#)

Thanks for this very helpful information, Jerry! Congrats on the star.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
6th Jan 2012 (#)

Thank you for stopping by, Tess.

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author avatar Jules, The Cowboy
6th Jan 2012 (#)

interesting and informative....

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author avatar Songbird B
6th Jan 2012 (#)

A great Star page Jerry, and written so clearly, that I think even I could do this to our car! As usual your articles are informative and always up to your own high standards..A pleasure to read my friend..Well done on the Mark's Factual Challenge.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
7th Jan 2012 (#)

Thank you one and all.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
7th Jan 2012 (#)

A great explanation of how to change the oil in a car, this will be handy for those who wish to save some money on vehicle maintenance

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author avatar Jerry Walch
7th Jan 2012 (#)

Thank you, Mark.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
7th Jan 2012 (#)

Outstanding and thank you Jerry:0)

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author avatar Jerry Walch
7th Jan 2012 (#)

Thank you, Delicia.

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author avatar Buzz
7th Jan 2012 (#)

A page worth reading, Jerry, a must read especially for those who want to save money when changing oil in their car.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
7th Jan 2012 (#)

Thank you, Buzz.

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author avatar richardpeeej
8th Jan 2012 (#)

Well explained Jerry. I changed the oil in my very first car when I was 18. I have been driving all my life and have driven many bangers. I never changed the oil in any of them since and they have never let me down!

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author avatar Jerry Walch
8th Jan 2012 (#)

You never change the oil in your cars? If you never change the oil and never have it changed, you really are causing harm to your car's engine. They may never have let you down, as you say, but you are shortening their useful life nonetheless. The reasons are too involved to go into in a comment, so I may just write an article on that subject.
Thanks for the read and the comment, richardpeel.

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author avatar johnnydod
11th Jan 2012 (#)

I have said it before and I will say it again... I am always learning from you Jerry.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
11th Jan 2012 (#)

Thank you, Johnny. Likewise!!

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