One of the most common do it yourself auto repair activities is the oil change. Performing an oil change yourself, with a little bit of planning, will take no more than 15 or 20 minutes if done correctly. Changing the oil in your car is also very inexpensive to do. It usually costs me no more than twenty dollars or so to change my own oil. Read on for a general idea on what it takes to change the oil in your vehicle the next time that “change oil” light comes one.
You should always be sure to turn the car off and block the wheels before ever going under it. Motor oil is very hot during operation and it can take quite a while to cool off so be sure to let your car sit for a few hours before attempting your own oil change. You certainly do not want to be dealing with oil burns!
Once your car has cooled down, slide underneath and remove the oil drain plug from the oil pan. Be sure you have a suitable container underneath for the oil to flow into. As the oil drains, carefully remove the new oil filter form its packaging. When you are sure that all oil has drained from your vehicle, replace the oil filter according to the instructions on the packaging. Generally, this is no more difficult than unscrewing the old one and then screwing the new one on. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines though.
After you’ve installed the new oil filter in place of the old one, screw the drain plug back into or onto the oil pan. If you are sure that the oil filter and oil plug are both tightly installed, you can begin to add the new engine oil to the crankcase. The crankcase is normally located under the hood of the car and generally has a cap on the top of it that is labeled “oil”. If you are not sure, stop and refer to your owner’s manual or speak with a professional auto mechanic.
Most cars require 4 or 5 quarts of quality motor oil. I prefer Valvoline myself but you will probably have your own preference. Be sure to check with your owner’s manual to confirm how much oil your particular vehicle requires. Overfilling and even under-filling can cause significant damage to your vehicle so always understand what you are doing. Since there are also different types of motor oils, you should also verify in the owner’s manual what type of oil your vehicle requires. This is critical. Adding the wrong oil can also significantly damage your car.
Once you’ve close the oil cap and the hood of your car, start it up and be sure to look for any leaks or droplets of oil anywhere below the vehicle. Confirm there are no leaks around the oil filter and ensure the drain plug is not leaking. Shut the vehicle off after a few minutes and re-check your oil level. If it is good, you have successfully changed your oil! Congratulations!