Oil is poured into a vehicle with a funnel.

How to Change Your Car’s Oil

Not everyone is skilled enough to do their own vehicle repairs, but specific routine maintenance like an oil change is generally super easy for anyone. Furthermore, you don’t have to be a mechanic to change your car’s oil. You can do it yourself even if you know very little about cars. You just have to acquire the right tools and identify a few parts of the vehicle to do the job right.

The typical oil change process involves only a few steps. However, if you’re doing it for the first time, you’re probably wondering, how do I change my oil? Well, there is no cause of alarm. Instead, follow this step-by-step guide to learn how to change your oil seamlessly.

Step 1: Collect Essential Information About Your Car

Tools needed for an engine oil change, such as a funnel, oil filter, oil, rag, open-end wrench, and a oil filter wrench.

Before anything else, you’ll need to buy oil and an oil filter. But if you know nothing about your car, you can’t get the specific oil and filter type you need. That’s why it’s vital to gather essential details about the car. You will need to track down the vehicle’s year of manufacture, make, oil type, model, and engine displacement size.

You can retrieve most of this information from your car’s manual. Alternatively, your vehicle may have a sticker on the interior where you can check the type of oil you require. When you get the needed information, you can visit any car part store and purchase that type of oil and filter. The manual should indicate the exact amount of oil required to fill your car. Besides the new oil and filter, you will also need:

Before you get under your car, you can run it for a few minutes to warm the oil inside. This helps make the old oil flow out easily.

Step 2: Drain Your Oil

Oil is drained underneath a vehicle into a drip pan.

Raise the vehicle using a jack and support it with a car jack stand to make it steady. Once the car is raised, get underneath to identify the drain plug (a large nut located at the bottom of the oil pan under the engine). The drain plug should be found quickly, but if you can’t reach it, you may need to crawl further under the car.

As soon as you get the drain plug, place a recycle container beneath it. Ensure your container is big enough to catch all the oil from your car engine. You should then unscrew the drain plug and let the oil drain into the container.

Be sure to protect your hands with rubber gloves or a paper towel. Once you empty the engine, use a paper towel or rag to wipe off the vehicle and return the oil drain plug.

Step 3: Replace the Oil Filter

An old oil filter is compared to a new one.

After you drain the oil, the next step is to replace the oil filter. You can start by removing the cap attached to it and unscrew the oil filter with a wrench. Keep in mind that some more oil will come out of the engine, so don’t forget to place the drain pan underneath the filter.

Notably, oil filters are available in different types, including the self-contained units that you can twist using your hand, while others are paper-made. For the paper filters, unscrew the cap, remove the paper filter and replace it with a new one before sealing. Wrap your older filter in a newspaper so that you can later take it to a recycling center. Follow these simple steps;

  • Remove the current oil filter (for paper filters, loosen the plastic cover to remove the oil filter).
  • Allow the opening to drain completely.
  • Clean the opening with a clean rag or paper towel.
  • Open the new bottle and dip your finger into it and rub some oil across the rim of the new filter.
  • Fix the new oil filter and firmly seal it.

Although the amount of oil that will come out of the filter is less than that in the drain pan, you still have to be careful. To avoid the risk of burning yourself, be sure to wear gloves throughout the whole process. When you replace the filter, wipe it and the pan again to avoid spotting leaks down the drain.

Step 4: Refill the Engine Oil

Engine oil is poured into a vehicle engine.

Once everything is sealed, now you’re ready to fill your car with oil. First, check your vehicle’s manual to know how much oil is needed. Most vehicles can consume between 4 and 5 liters, but it helps to confirm from the manual. The good thing is that most refill jugs come with a measure on their handle to help you know how much you’ve poured and the amount left.

To refill your oil, unscrew the oil cap from the top of the engine and insert the funnel into the hole. Then, start pouring the oil into the funnel slowly until you reach the amount recommended on the owner’s manual before restoring the cap.

Once you fill the engine with oil, it’s time to remove the jacks and turn on your vehicle. Let the engine run for about 30-60 seconds to cycle the oil through the entire system. Check the car for leaks from the drain plug and filter. Turn off the vehicle and wait for a few seconds to allow the oil to settle before checking the oil level once more.

Pull out the dipstick, wipe it with a clean rag, re-insert it, and then pull it out again. If the oil level isn’t at the full line level, keep adding oil slowly while checking the stick. Repeat this process until you reach the desired oil level, and then remove the drain pan from beneath the car.

Step 5: Take the Oil and Filter to an Approved Recycling Facility

Carelessly disposing of car parts like filters and used motor oil can have detrimental effects on the environment. Besides, this action is illegal and can have severe consequences, including heavy penalties, jail time, and community services depending on your neighborhood. Therefore, avoid dumping these remnants in unauthorized areas.

Instead, take them to an approved recycling center. Alternatively, you can take them to your local auto parts stores or gas stations because many of them are willing to dispose of the oil on your behalf.

Finally, empty the old oil from the drain pan into the empty container that had the new oil to make transportation easier. As soon as you empty the pan, seal the jug properly and take it to a store or station that accepts used oil.

Bottom Line

Changing your car’s oil is possible even if you have zero experience with vehicles. All you need is to have the right equipment and understand some fundamental car parts. So if you’re planning to change your oil, whether you want to practice self-reliance or save some bucks, follow the steps outlined above for a smooth process.

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