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How to Change The Engine Oil in Your Car

If there’s one thing that every vehicle owner should at least have a passing knowledge of its how to change their oil.  Sure, you could simply drop by your local service station and perhaps have them do it for you, but there’s the issue of cost of labor to contend with.  Likewise, you can never be sure that someone is doing things the right way (and/or using the right oil / parts) unless you do it yourself.  At any rate, with the right preparations even the most repair-challenged person can change their oil like a pro.

First off, you’re going to want to get all of your tools and components together before you actually attempt an oil change.  While this might be obvious, you’d be surprised at the number of people that start trying to change their oil only to realize that they lack something as simple as an oil wrench.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. A wide, flat container to catch your used oil as it drains
  2. Some type of jug (or multiple bottles) with screw on lids to place your used oil into for transport and disposal (some people simply use the empty oil containers from the new stuff)
  3. The right size oil wrench for your oil filter
  4. The appropriate oil filter type and size (there are even some for higher mileage vehicles, etc…)
  5. The right kind of oil.  Check your owners manual or inside the hood of your car to find out what’s right for your auto as well as how much you need, 5-6 quarts is pretty standard
  6. A funnel
  7. The correct screwdrivers and wrenches you’ll need for removing any protective sheaths on the underside of your car (if there are any to speak of) and loosening the drainage screw, etc…
  8. (Optional): Car ramps – if you can’t get underneath your vehicle easily

For starters, turn on your engine and get the oil heated up a bit, this will help it to drain more thoroughly.  Next, move your vehicle into a position / place where you can get underneath it (if you have ramps, use them).  Put on the parking brake and make sure the auto is stabilized, somewhat level and not like to move or shift.

Placing your drainage pan directly underneath the drainage plug, begin to loosen the bolt until you see oil pouring out into the pan.  At this point you can climb out from underneath your car and wait for the oil to completely drain.  Once that’s done, you can go back under and locate the oil filter.  Every manufacturer tends to place oil filters in fairly unique locations, so you might even have to find it from above, under the hood.  Once you’ve located it, place your drainage pan underneath it and use your oil wrench to unscrew it (counter-clockwise).  Note* – be sure to remove the rubber gasket from the old oil filter.

Next, rub some of your fresh oil onto the outer ring / gasket of the bottom of the new oil filter.  Some people even like to pour a little bit inside, just to prime it.  Now, with your new oil filter in hand along with your plug, get back underneath the vehicle.  Install the drain plug first, making sure not to cross the threads.  Once that’s tightened up, put the new oil filter on, making sure that the rubber ring / seal is in place.

Slide out from under the car and move above.  Looking at the top of the engine, remove the oil cap and begin to pour in a few quarts of fresh oil, making sure to use your funnel and of course, to take your time.  Check inside your owners manual for an indication of just how much oil you need to put inside your car, as previously mentioned, this will be around 5 quarts for most cars.  DO NOT overfill your car with oil beyond capacity!  Once you’ve put in the required amount of fresh oil, replace the cap and turn on your car.  If you did everything properly, it should start up fine (without the oil pressure light turning or remaining on for an extended period of time).  If the oil light does come on, turn the car off, let the engine cool and then check the oil with the dipstick.  If it’s a little bit low, add some more and repeat the last step until the oil light goes off.

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