Tips for changing the oil in your car

Having a car necessarily involves maintenance. Even if you stick to the bare minimum, you will sooner or later change the oil in your car, change the brake pads, and often replace the suspension components.

If some mandatory maintenance require specialized equipment, the oil change can be done at your home, with almost no tools (Warning: some municipalities do not allow their citizens to change their oil on their own Inquire about the laws of your municipality with your town hall). In this case you would have to hire a pro like the Jonesboro auto repair experts.

Going to a garage for an oil change usually costs more than $60, while if you do it yourself, you will not really spend more than $20 for your oil, and $5 for your oil filter. So you really don’t save much with DIY.

If your car is rented and/or covered by a warranty, make sure that your contract authorizes self-maintenance.

So here is our practical guide to successfully changing your oil at home!

If necessary, please refer to our photo gallery, on the right, for a visual guide!

What You Need

To succeed in your oil change, you do not need a lot of things. You need a sufficient amount of motor oil, a cloth, a new oil filter, wide clips, a funnel and a container large enough to temporarily hold your used oil. It is also recommended to have the necessary tools to unscrew nuts.

Be sure to consult your owner’s manual for the type of oil you need, as well as how much you will need!

1st step: get the engine warm

This detail may seem trivial, but it is important to drive the vehicle before the oil change. If it is necessary to change its motor oil, it is because over time it is filled with metal particles that hinder the lubrication of the moving components. If the oil is changed cold, the particles, then deposited in the bottom of the oil tank, will not be eliminated. Over time, they can even form harmful deposits.

This is why we recommend that you drive your vehicle until the oil temperature reaches its operating point. This “point” is usually reached when the needle of the oil temperature gauge is toward the middle of the graduated scale. If your vehicle does not have an oil temperature gauge, wait for the “cold engine” light to go out. Afterwards, let the vehicle rest for about ten minutes, and proceed to the next step.

2nd step: empty the waste oil

To drain your used oil, you need to know the location of your oil pan. It is a metal tank that is usually under the engine. For easy access, lift the car with a jack, and hold the lift with appropriate brackets. However, the ground clearance of your vehicle may be high enough to avoid lifting it.

Under the casing there is a nut. It serves as a cork to the tank. Once removed, this plug will allow almost all the oil contained in your engine to flow. Be sure to place the container under this cap before unscrewing it. Once the stopper begins to be less tight, you can finish unscrewing it by hand, but be careful not to burn yourself with the hot oil, and beware of splashing! The best advice here is to unscrew the cap while maintaining pressure on it. Be careful not to lose the sealing washer found on most cars!

If you want to accelerate the process, you can remove the plug on top of the engine compartment, usually stamped with an oil jug. This is the motor oil filler cap.

3rd step: replacing the oil filter

In order to optimize the performance of the engine oil, it is filtered so as to remove most of the metal particles of the contents. The filter usually takes the form of a metal cylinder in which there is a paper filter element. Often sold at around $5, it is imperative to replace it at every oil change, but validate the instructions contained in your owner’s manual; Some special, more efficient, but more expensive filters may need to be replaced at different intervals from oil changes.

Generally, the oil filter is located near the housing. To replace it, nothing could be simpler. Loosen it with pliers, preferably with specially designed round pliers, and then unscrew it by hand. This filter can be recycled.

You can now install a new filter. However, be sure to cover the rubber strip which is used to seal the filter with a thin layer of oil; To do this, moisten your finger with oil and slide it along the strip. This will improve the tightness. Ideally, use new oil for this operation.

Tighten the new filter by hand, and tighten with the clamp; The special clamp designed for this purpose takes on its importance here because it is easy to drill a filter by exerting too much pressure with a standard clamp. Again, it is important to validate here the manufacturer’s instructions. Needless to force too much: in general, a quarter turn is enough.

4th step: put oil

Here is undoubtedly the most important step. Do not forget to put some oil in the engine, otherwise you will not get 5 kilometers before it is reduced to rubble.

Fortunately, this is also the easiest step. Simply insert a funnel into the duct you previously removed the cap. Slowly pour the appropriate amount of oil into the funnel (owner’s manual will show you the required viscosity and quantity). If you go too fast, there may be overflows.

To ensure that the level and quality of the oil are good, you can start the car a few minutes, then turn off the engine and check the oil using the gauge for this purpose. If your vehicle no longer has a gauge, as on some BMWs, you can check this information from the car’s on-board computer.


Congratulations, you just changed the oil yourself!