Changing the oil in your car can be a smooth, simple process with good preparation and attention to the job. Before you even begin, make sure that you have everything you need: proper type of oil and the right amount, oil filter, air filter and the proper size of wrench to take off the oil pan bolt. It is also recommended to have a tarp to put under the vehicle. Any oil that drips onto the ground and can seep in. This is neither safe for any pets you have or for the environment, so the tarp will keep any spills contained. You will also need a container to catch the oil from the engine, preferably a larger bucket or bowl. Wearing long sleeved shirt, pants and gloves will help you stay clear of any spills as well. A funnel for the oil will top off your supplies.
Move your car to a level spot in your yard. When you jack it up, it is imperative that you make sure it is stable before you even start doing any work. Car racks are useful as you can position one in front of each front tire and then drive it up to the top. It is helpful to have someone guide you to make sure the car is in the best position. Jacks are fine, but to give you piece of mind, place a used tire underneath the car on side to be a buffer if a jack fails. You can also use a rock or a stone brick for the same purpose. Make sure that the parking brake is also engaged inside the vehicle.
Once it is stable, spread out your tarp below and set your tools within easy reach. Also, keep a stack of rags nearby to help catch any spills. Put your container underneath the oil pan. As you use your wrench to loosen the bolt, don’t try to force the bolt loose if its tight. This can strip the edges and make the job harder. Find an old metal pipe that will fit over the handle of your wrench. This is called a “cheater bar” and gives you extra leverage. Pull firmly, but not forceful. When it comes pretty loose, make sure the container is underneath where the oil will drain and then loosen it the rest of the way with your hand. This will keep the bolt from falling into the oil.
As you let the oil drain into the container, allow it run until it is completely gone, and then put the bolt back in. You want it to be tight, but not too much. This will make your job much easier next time. Now, you get into your engine and remove the oil filter. When you take it off, check to see if the seal is still on it. Place this in a few rags and set on the tarp. Then, take a small amount of new oil on a clean rag and wipe it around the seal on the new filter. You can then screw it in place. Now you can add the oil to the engine. Put in the correct amount, making sure to check the dipstick periodically so that you don’t overfill it.
Check around the engine for any leaks, and you are ready to begin your clean-up. Using the funnel, carefully pour the used oil into the oil canisters and seal them with the lids. These need to be taken to a garage or or place in your area that is licensed to dispose of it properly. This will also keep any contamination from occurring. The gloves are a great way to keep your hands clean, but also to protect them from any contact with car fluids that can be damaging to your health.
With proper preparation and using common sense, you won’t have any problems changing your oil and doing it safely.