How to Change the Oil in your Car
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
- Service ramps.
- Other tools and supplies that you will need.
- Drive the car up on the ramps.
- Draining the old oil.
- Add the new oil.
- The finishing touches.
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.
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.