How To Change Oil In A Car: The Ultimate Guide

Part of owning a car is making sure that you are keeping up with routine maintenance. Routine maintenance is a great way to ensure that your car or truck is running smoothly and to also head off any potential big problems. Changing the oil in your car is one of those routine steps and you can do this by yourself, but how do you know when your car needs an oil change?

With a few supplies and an afternoon, you can change your car’s oil by yourself. This will save you the time and expense of taking it to a shop and waiting for it to be done. Let’s go over a few things to remember when changing your car’s oil.

changing oil

How do I know when it’s time to change my car’s oil?

There are a few ways that you will be alerted that there is a need to change the oil in your car. The first obvious sign is that your check engine light will come on. When you see this light, it is definitely time to change the oil in your car or truck.

In addition to that, there are a few other signs you might notice. You may hear some engine noise or knocking while driving. If you remove the dipstick and it looks dark and murky, then your oil is dirty and in desperate need of an oil change. You may also notice an oil smell in the car or some exhaust smoke.

Ideally your oil should be changed every 3,000 miles. If you have been on a long road trip, then it’s also a good idea to change the oil sooner rather than later.

checking oil level

Why does your car need new oil?

Oil is essential for lubricating the parts of your engine. Having the proper, clean oil in your car will help the engine to run more efficiently and keep it clean.

How do I know what oil to put in my car?

If you are not sure what grade and weight oil you should use, look in your owner’s manual. The correct listing for your car will be in there. It is imperative that you use the correct oil for your make and model.

motor oil container

What do I need to change the oil at home?

The items you need to do an oil change by yourself are easy to purchase at any store that has an automotive department. Make sure you have all your supplies on hand before starting.

You will need:

  1. The correct type and weight oil for your car
  2. A new oil filter
  3. Rags
  4. Rubber mallet
  5. Wrench set
  6. Funnel
  7. Oil pan
  8. Container for the used oil
  9. Oil filter
  10. Jacks and plastic sheet

Once you have all your tolls, you are ready to change the oil. First spread a plastic sheet on the ground. This will make it easy to clean up any oil leaks. The drive your car onto the plastic. When you are ready, it’s time to jack up the car and get started! (make sure you never get under a car that is only supported by jacks. Make sure there are also wheels chocks to prevent the back wheels from rolling)

Steps to Changing the Oil

  1. Pop open the hood of the car
  2. Locate and remove the oil dipstick. This will help the oil flow when draining.
  3. Put on safety glasses and go under the car and locate the engine oil pan
  4. Find the oil drain plug. This is a long bolt head at the bottom of the pan. (some vehicles might have 2 drain plugs)
  5. Position a container under the drain plug and make sure it is big enough to hold all the oil that will drain out.
  6. Using the wrench or socket, loosen the drain plug.
  7. Remove the plug by hand
  8. Oil will start draining out and into the pan
  9. Use a rag to wipe the oil pan threads and the oil drain plug. Check them to see if they need replacing.
  10. Replace the drain plug gasket
  11. Once the oil is rained, reinstall the plug and tighten with the wrench or socket
  12. Locate the oil filter and put the place an oil catch pan under it
  13. Loosen the oil filter or the oil filter cap with the oil filter wrench
  14. Remove the oil filter and make sure the filter gasket comes off too
  15. Place a light coating of new oil on the new gasket
  16. By hand, install the new oil filter onto the engine and turn it in a clockwise direction
  17. Now go back under the hood and remove the oil fill cap.
  18. Use the funnel to pour in the correct amount of new oil
  19. Replace the cap and start the engine
  20. Let the engine idle for a couple of minutes and then check for any leaks.

Once you have completed these steps, you are ready to lower your vehicle back down to the ground. Replace the dipstick and check the oil level. If you need to, add some oil.

After you are finished, be sure to take your old oil to a shop to be disposed of properly.

How much does it cost to have someone else change my oil?

If you are not sure you are ready to tackle an oil change by yourself, you can take it to a mechanic and have it done there. Depending on where you live, car oil change prices will vary. You should expect to pay around $50.00 to have a mechanic do an oil change. If the shop uses a synthetic oil it will cost a little bit more, probably around $70.00.

Are there any do it yourself oil change locations?

This is a tricky question and again, it depends where you live. If you do not have a driveway of your own, where else can you change your oil?

Some people use the parking lot of their condo complex. Definitely put plastic sheeting down so you do not leave oil stains on the driveway and maybe check HOA rules first.

Other people have changed their car’s oil right in the parking lot of wherever they purchased the supplies from. This makes it easy to return the used oil for proper disposal too.

Final thoughts

Owning a car or truck is a great experience. Having a pride in ownership will encourage you to keep up with routine maintenance for your car. This routine maintenance will ensure your car is running smoothly and hopefully detect any problems that are just starting so you can take care of them immediately.

Changing your car’s engine oil is a routine maintenance must. The oil in your car is responsible for keeping the moving parts lubricated, which keeps your engine running smoothly. If the oil is bad, low or dirty it will affect how well your car runs. And it could lead to engine trouble down the road.

Changing the oil in your car can be done easily. You just need t be sure you have a few supplies on hand and the space to do it. In about 20 minutes you can make sure your car’s engine has fresh and clean oil. This regular maintenance will guarantee a long life for your car’s engine. Now, it’s time to move on to other tasks like changing your wipers!

About Chad Ina

Chad Ina

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