If your budget is strained, one way to save some money is to change the oil in your car yourself. Changing the engine oil and filter is very important to preserve the integrity of your vehicle’s engine. The current way of thinking is that if you have a fairly new car and drive only short distances, you can go up to 7,500 miles between changes. On the other hand, you should change the oil every 3,000 miles if you drive long distances frequently. For older cars, play it safe and change it every 3,000 miles.

Check the manual that comes with your car to be sure that you know the proper type of oil to use, how many quarts, and the size and type of oil filter to replace. Make sure that you have everything that you will need at arms length before getting under the car. Drive the car for a few minutes until the oil has had time to get hot so that it will drain out faster. However, be careful not to get burned by a hot engine or hot oil.

Cover the area underneath the car with layers of old newspapers or a drop cloth. If the car is low to the ground, you may need to use a hydraulic jack and jack stands. To keep the car from rolling forward, use bricks at the base of the tires. You will need a socket wrench kit, a new drain plug gasket, an oil filter wrench, a new oil filter, and a pan/pail large enough to catch all of the old oil that will drain out of the crankcase.

Open the hood and take off the oil cap to facilitate the oil draining process. Underneath the car, locate the oil plug which is usually located near the back of the engine. Make sure it is not the transmission plug. Decide on the proper size socket wrench to use and turn the plug counter-clockwise to remove it. Once the plug is removed, the oil will immediately begin to drain into your large pan or pail.

When it stops draining, usually within 2-3 minutes, wipe the area clean, install the new drain gasket and replace the oil plug by turning it clockwise until it is tight. Locate the oil filter. Use an oil filter wrench to loosen the oil filter and finish removing it by hand. When you remove the oil filter, be sure to also remove the rubber gasket ring or the new filter will not seal properly.

Before installing the new oil filter, gently prime the seal with fresh motor oil. Wipe the oil filter area clean and thread the new filter by hand to approximately one-half or three-quarters of a turn, or as per the instructions on the filter package.

Get out from underneath the car and add the new oil into the fill hole located under the hood. Use a paper or plastic funnel to avoid dripping oil all over the engine. Replace the oil cap, put the car in park, and start the engine. Check to be sure that the oil pressure goes up to the proper level. Check under the car to be sure that there is no oil leaking around the oil plug.

After making sure everything is okay, gather up all of your tools and make plans to dispose of the old oil. Due to stringent regulations regarding the disposal of oil, you must dispose of it properly. You cannot bury it in your backyard or pour it down a drain. Even if you seal it in a container, you cannot send it to a landfill. Find a quick lube shop, service station or a facility that has an interest in recycling or disposing of your old oil.

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