Change Your Oil and Oil Filter Yourself and Save Money

Having the oil and oil filter changed in your vehicle is one of the most important tasks a vehicle owner can do to keep their car running properly.

change-your-oil-and-oil-filterThe oil in your vehicle runs throughout the engine and ensures that everything continues to run smoothly.  Letting the oil get dirty and contaminated or too low can result in vehicle problems that can lead to your car stopping altogether.

Almost every garage will do oil changes and there are even dedicated places of business that ONLY do oil changes so finding a place to get this done is not difficult.  If you are looking to save money or you enjoy working on vehicles, changing the oil and oil filter is one of the easiest jobs that you can do.  Oil and oil filter changes need to be done frequently due to the demands daily driving places on your car or truck.

This article will explain how to accomplish this job yourself quickly and efficiently while saving you money and time as well.  The first thing you need to do before getting started is to look at the owner’s manual for your vehicle to see what the recommended oil change schedule is.  It will also tell you what type and weight of motor oil to use.

Getting Everything Ready

Have all your tools and supplies ready and you can expect to have the oil changed and the filter changed in about 30 minutes or so.

It may take you a little longer if this is your first time, but don’t let the idea of working on your own vehicle intimidate you.

Oil changes are not complicated and you’ll love the money you will save by doing it yourself.  It is a good skill to know how to do as a vehicle owner.

getting-everythingWe have listed what you need to have set up and done before you start changing your oil. These steps are not difficult but they will ensure that you have all that you need to get the job done quickly without having to climb out from under the vehicle to grab a tool you forgot to lay out.

  • Lay out plastic sheets on the ground where you will be parking your car to do the oil change. After laying the sheeting out move your car so it is on top of the sheeting.  This eliminates worries about ruining the driveway or leaving oil residue that can be dangerous to any animals you have.  You can keep the plastic sheeting in a trash bag for future oil changes or just toss it and buy more when you need to do this again.  Don’t save the plastic sheeting if you have spilled oil on it as it will just be a bigger mess than throwing it away and purchasing more.
  • Using your tire jack, jack up the car or truck and set your jack stands up where they need to go to keep the vehicle up safely. If you’re changing the oil on an asphalt driveway, place the jack stands on squares of plywood for sturdiness and stability. Once the jack stands are where they belong, lower the vehicle onto the jack stands.  This raises the front of the car where it needs to be so you can work on it comfortably.
  • Set up all your tools on a tray so everything is where you can get to it easily. The tools and supplies you will need include:
  1. Socket Wrench (Box end)
  2. Rubber mallet
  3. Filter wrench
  4. Drain pan
  5. Quarts of oil (5 or more depending on the make and model of your vehicle)
  6. Oil filter
  7. Rags or cloths for wiping off oily hands
  8. A funnel

The last thing you need to do before you get started is to gently rub clean oil on the gasket of the new filter and then place it on the tray.

Draining The Existing Oil in the Tank

Draining the old, dirty oil out of the tank is the first step in changing your vehicle’s oil.  To ensure that the oil comes out easily, run your vehicle for a couple of minutes prior to draining it.

If you are fortunate enough to have a shop creeper, lie down on your back on this great piece of equipment and slide underneath the jacked up vehicle.

draining-the-existing-oilHere is one very important word of caution:  Never, never get underneath your vehicle or any vehicle that is only held up by a jack alone.  It is a necessity to make sure that jack stands are in place underneath the vehicle in the proper places.

Once you have slid underneath the vehicle, locate the oil pan and the drain plug that is on that oil pan.  Place the pan you have placed with the tools to catch the dirty oil, underneath the drain plug.  Using the socket wrench, loosen the drain plug. You will need to turn the socket counterclockwise to loosen it.

Once you have it loosened enough to manually remove, slowly pull it out and let all the oil drain into the capture pan underneath.  Make sure you do not get in the way of the oil as it could be hot due to driving or running the vehicle right before the oil change.

You can replace the drain plug once the stream of oil has slowed to a drip.  Replace the drain plug back into the oil pan and use the socket wrench to tighten it by turning it clockwise.

Putting in the New Oil Filter

Now that the oil has been drained, you can replace the oil filter.  Leave the pan that the old oil has drained into underneath the vehicle and find where the oil filter it located.  Using a filter wrench, loosen the oil filter, again by turning counterclockwise and remove it by hand once it is loose enough.  Make sure that the seal from the old oil filter has not gotten stuck to the engine surface that it screws up to.  Double sealing the oil filter can result in a huge messy leak.

Oil filters are usually located close to the oil pan. Sometimes it may be underneath the engine and sometimes it may be behind the engine.  This will change according to the make and model of your vehicle.  Check the owner’s manual to be certain you know where to look and find the oil filter on your specific vehicle.

putting-the-new-oil-filterOnce you have removed the old oil filter, take the new one that you have smeared clean oil on and replace the old one with the new one.  Spreading oil on the gasket of the new filter before you install it will prevent it from cracking or sticking and causing an oil leak. Tighten the new oil filter by hand only.  Your done underneath the vehicle now so you can pull everything out from underneath it and dispose of it safely.

Raise the vehicle slightly with the jack so you can remove the jack stands and then lower the vehicle all the way back to the ground.

Adding New Motor Oil

Now that you have the old oil drained and the new oil filter installed, it’s time to add fresh, new oil to the engine. This is done underneath the hood.   You will be adding the oil to the engine with a funnel that is placed inside the oil intake area.

Loosen the oil cap and place the funnel inside so there is no spillage to cause smoking.  If oil does spill a little don’t worry.  Nothing bad will happen but it will burn off when you start and drive your vehicle at first.

You should add all the quarts of oil that the owner’s manual has recommended you add. For most cars this will be in the 5 quart range.  You should already have made sure that the oil you have purchased is the right weight and type for your vehicle so you can add all the quarts you have purchased for the oil change.

Once you have added all the oil, put the cap back on and wipe up any spilled oil.   Now it’s time to start the engine and let it run for a minute or so. This will allow the new motor oil to be distributed throughout the engine.

adding-the-new-motor-oilCheck the oil level before you shut the hood.  This oil check gauge will be under the hood and have a dipstick that is pulled out and tells how much, if any, oil needs to be added.   To check the oil level properly, remove the dipstick from the vehicle and wipe it off so it is clean.

Replace it all the way back into the receptacle and remove it once again holding the end of the dipstick toward the ground and look at the level.  Make sure that it is dreading the proper oil level.

How to Properly Clean Up and Dispose of Your Old Motor Oil

Your oil and oil filter change is complete.  Now that it is done you need to dispose of the old oil safely.

You can’t just throw it away.  Get an old milk jug and pour the old oil into the milk jug. Replace the cap so it does not tip over.  Place the old oil filter into a plastic bag, like an old grocery bag and tie it off.

Once you have it in the milk jug, call around to your local service stations, auto parts stores and quick lubes to see if they offer motor oil disposal for people.

There may be a small fee involved but you will just have to call around to find the best and easiest place for you to take your used oil and filters.

how-to-properly-clean-upGet rid of any soiled newspapers or  rags that have oil all over them and after you move the car off the sheeting, roll it up as well.  If there is oil on the sheeting just throw it away with the soiled rags and newspapers.  If it is clean, fold it up carefully for use on the next oil change.

Make sure that you write down the date that you did the oil and oil filter change and the mileage at the time of the oil change and keep that information somewhere where you will be certain to find it.  Also take the time to count out the months and write down in your planner or calendar when it is time to do another oil change.

Important Tips To Remember When Doing And Oil Change

The following tips are important to keep in mind so your oil changes go smoothly and without incident. 

  • Always use jack stands to secure your vehicle before you start changing the oil. Never use just the tire jack as this can sometimes break or get knocked over which can lead to serious and potentially fatal injuries for the person working underneath the vehicle.
  • Don’t change the oil cold. Let the vehicle run for 5 minutes to warm up the oil. If the oil is hot, allow the vehicle to cool down for at least 30 minutes or you could sustain a bad burn.
  • Only use a properly sized socket style wrench to remove the drain plug from the oil pan.
  • Always coat the gasket of the new oil filter with clean oil before replacing the old one to prevent potential leaks, cracks and other problems.
  • Never use a filter wrench to tighten the new oil filter.
  • important-tips-to-rememberDon’t just toss the old oil out or put it in the trash to be picked up without permission. Before you do your oil change, find out who takes old oil and filters so you know exactly where to go and what the procedures are.
  • Keep all the tools and supplies you need lined up and close to where you will be working.
  • If you can find a shop creeper, you will have a much easier time getting underneath the vehicle. They are an excellent piece of equipment to have if you work on your vehicle a lot.
  • Never smoke while working on your vehicle
  • Children should not be around while you are underneath the vehicle for safety reasons. Keep children and pets away from wherever you are working.
  • Purchase high quality motor oil and oil filters for your vehicle to ensure the best quality performance you can get.