How can I do my Own Oil Change?

N. Madison
N. Madison

If the thought of performing your own oil change sends chills up and down your spine, just relax. You can tackle your own oil change, saving both time and money. There’s no need to wait in line at your local service station and no cause to pay someone for labor. Just put your game face on, gather a few tools, and tackle it on your own.

Motor oil and funnel.
Motor oil and funnel.

Start your oil change by gathering several items. You’ll need motor oil - secure about four to five quarts. You’ll also need a new oil filter, old rags, a funnel, an oil-drain pan, a box wrench, and an oil-filter wrench. You may or may not need a car jack to perform your oil change. This depends on how close the bottom of your car is to the ground.

Motor oil.
Motor oil.

Let your engine cool off and locate the oil drain plug. If you have trouble finding your oil drain plug, refer to your vehicle manual. Use a box wrench to remove the plug and let the oil drain into a pan. Once the oil is drained completely, replace the drain plug.

Most cars have an easy to locate oil filler cap.
Most cars have an easy to locate oil filler cap.

For the next step of your oil change, you’ll need to remove the old oil filter. Put the catch pan under it. Remove the filter with an adjustable oil-filter wrench and a counter-clockwise motion. Expect to get some oil on your hands; an oil change is a dirty job. Take one of your old rags and wipe the filter-mount area, checking to make sure the old filter’s seal isn’t stuck on the engine.

Locating the oil drain plug is one of the first steps in changing your own oil.
Locating the oil drain plug is one of the first steps in changing your own oil.

Take some of your new motor oil and use it to coat the rubber seal of your new oil filter. Don’t put too much on; you only need a very light coating. Install the new oil filter by hand. Typically, an oil-filter wrench is not necessary for this step. Keep it handy, however, just in case tightening by hand fails to do the job.

Now it’s time to install new oil. For this part of the oil change, you’ll need to find and remove the oil-filler cap. Look for it on top of the engine; refer to your car manual if you have difficulty finding it. Put the funnel in the exposed opening and pour the new oil into the funnel. Be sure to refer to your car manual to determine how much oil you’ll need to add.

After adding the right amount of oil, replace the oil-filler cap, turn you car on, and run your engine for a minute. Check to make certain the oil-warning light doesn’t stay on and look under the car to make sure oil isn’t leaking. Finally, use the oil dipstick to check the oil level. Use rags to wipe away excess oil; newspapers are good for this as well. Congratulate yourself, as you’ve just successfully completed your oil change.

You may or may not need a car jack to perform an oil change, depending on how close the bottom of the car is to the ground.
You may or may not need a car jack to perform an oil change, depending on how close the bottom of the car is to the ground.
N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments

anon84272

When changing my oil I always remove the filter and drain plug. Then, I start the engine and let it run for perhaps three minutes at 3,500 rpm. This gets all the dirt out quickly. Then, put new filter on and replace drain plug. Refill new oil to top of stick.

anon47506

Wrong topic for motor oil in landfills lol. it's my understanding *no* oil should go to landfills, but I know yes, even some people tend to "throw away" jars of cooking grease in their residential garbage pickup, etc. A suggestion though, when changing the oil. I recommend adding a little bit of new oil to the crankcase with the drain pan still under the car; to help flush out some of the older oil.

georgia73

I would really like to know whether motor oil (enhanced mineral oil) placed in an landfill will ever actually decompose, and if it does, how long does it take? I have been reading about various new biodegradable motor oils but wondered about older ones already in landfills. A reply would be much appreciated.

anon5051

Your car service manual will tell you exactly how much oil your car will need. Every time you change your oil, you will need to replace the old oil with the exact amount required by the service manual. If you do not have your car's service manual, this information can be easily found on the internet.

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