One of the most common do-it-yourself car maintenance jobs is oil change. If you want to become savvier with mechanical procedures for your car, this is probably the best place to start. It’s a simple procedure that doesn’t require many tools, and it will save you money. You will also save the time of traveling to and from the repair shop and sitting around a greasy auto center while strangers go to work on your beloved car.
Before you get to work, make sure you have the tools for the job. You’ll need a pan to drain the oil, a wrench, a funnel, latex gloves, a jack, and some stands to keep the car firmly elevated and safe while you’re underneath it. You will also need new motor oil, a new oil filter and you might also need a new drain plug washer.
The first step is to make sure you know the right type of oil to put into your car. You can find this information in your car’s manual. Also, note the number of quarts your car requires for an oil change. Understand the viscosity type, such as 5W-30. Some cars must operate with synthetic oil in order to maintain a safe temperature and smooth operation.
After you have your oil, jack up your car and place it on some secure stands to keep it firmly aloft. Never use the jack that came with your car to hold your car up while you work underneath. It’s not made for that purpose, and it’s likely to fail in a tragic way.
When you drain your oil, it should not be hot, but it should not be ice cold either. If your car has an aerodynamic undercover, you may need to remove it to gain access to the oil drain plug. Most cars don’t have undercovers, but they are usually easy to remove.
The next step is to remove the drain plug and find the oil filter. Put on your latex gloves first. If the filter is far away from the drain plug, you might want to let the oil completely drain before replacing the filter.
Place the drain pan under the plug and remove the plug to let the oil drain out. Try to change your oil indoors because wind can blow the draining oil stream around and create a hazard. Try to keep a firm grip on the drain plug to prevent it from falling into the drain pan.
While the oil is draining, clean the plug so that you can replace it after the draining is done. After the old oil is drained out, inspect the washer to see if it needs to be replaced. Insert the drain plug and tighten firmly without using extra torque with a pipe or hammer.
Replace your oil filter. You might need to reposition the drain pan to catch the oil that comes out as you remove the filter. Hold the filter over the pan to drain it, and avoid dropping it.
The last step is to add the new oil. You should add one quart less than the recommended capacity, and save the final quart to top it off later. Start the car to circulate the new oil. Shut off the engine, and check underneath for signs of leaks. Check your oil level and top it off as necessary. Finally, insert a jack, remove the stands, and lower the car.