A DIY oil change is quick and easy but more importantly, it’s relatively cheap. You don’t have to worry about a mechanic charging you an arm and a leg for something you can do yourself. Sure some of you might be thinking why not just take it to the local chain quick-lube shop and pay $17 dollars and be done with it. The reason these oil changes are so cheap is because they use cheap products which end up costing you more in the long run. The saying is true, you get what you pay for.

Luckily you can do an at-home DIY oil change that’ll make you question why you ever went to a mechanic for an oil change in the first place.

Here’s what you’ll need:

4 to 6 quarts of motor oil, (check your owner’s manual for the proper SAE viscosity, API performance and quantity required for your car’s engine.)

  • Oil filter
  • Drain plug socket wrench or open-end wrench (exact size) and oil filter wrench.
  • Large drain pan, at least 5 to 7 quarts in capacity

Step 1 – Choose Your Oil

Your owner’s manual for your vehicle will recommend a weight and type of oil to be used under normal driving conditions as well as the number of miles that you should drive your vehicle before changing your oil. Oil types include Conventional, Synthetic or High Mileage oil for cars with more than 75,000 miles. However, if you drive mostly under severe conditions such as extreme temperatures, frequent short trips, stop and go traffic or towing and hauling, the extra strain on your engine will necessitate more frequent changes.

The average driver generally doesn’t realize it, but the vast majority of their driving falls into this category, which is why most mechanics will refer to and change oil by the shorter drain interval recommended by the manufacturer for use in “severe” driving conditions. FOLLOW YOUR VEHICLE MANUFACTURER’S RECOMMENDATIONS ON OIL VISCOSITY GRADE AND TYPE.

Step 2 – Prepare Your Vehicle

Always be certain to consult your owner’s manual for specific safety precautions before climbing under your vehicle.

On the top of the engine, you will find a cap that says “Oil”. Unscrew the oil filler cap, this helps quickly and completely drain the oil from the engine. Cold oil will not drain properly so idle your engine for about 5-10 minutes to bring it to normal operating temperature (never start your engine without oil). Then switch off the engine and raise the hood to locate and loosen the oil filler cap to avoid creating a vacuum. This will allow the oil to drain from the bottom more freely.

Step 3 – Drain the Old Oil

Locate the oil drain plug on the underside of your vehicle. It should be located at the bottom rear end of the engine sump or oil pan. Be sure not to loosen the automatic transmission drain plug by mistake, which is usually located a bit further back.

Place the drain pan underneath the drain plug and slightly toward the back. Using your wrench, turn the plug counterclockwise until it rotates freely. Finish removing the plug by hand. At this point, be careful of the oil since it may release rapidly and may be hot. Try not to drop the plug into the pan, but don’t worry if you do. Re-position the pan, if necessary, to catch all the dripping oil.

Step 4 – Remove the Oil Filter

Next, loosen the oil filter by turning it counterclockwise with a filter wrench. Complete the removal by hand, taking care not touch the hot exhaust manifold. The oil filter may be filled with oil and feel slightly heavy, so carefully ease it down and away from the engine and tip its contents into the drain pan.

Step 5 – Replace the Oil Filter

Take a rag and wipe in and around the filter seat on the engine. Then take a new filter and use your finger to apply a light film of new oil to the gasket, (the circular edge of the filter itself). The oil will act as a sealant.

Now gently screw the new filter onto the threaded oil line, turning it clockwise. If it’s aligned properly, the filter should thread on easily. Hand-tighten the filter approximately ½ to ¾ of a turn after the gasket makes contact with the mounting surface. Make sure the filter is mounted snugly, but be gentle, don’t over tighten.

Be sure to clean the copper gasket and the oil plug. Use a rag to clean old oil or road dirt from the area on the oil pan near the oil plug hole before re-installing the drain plug. Then align and replace the plug. Screw it in by hand, but finish tightening it with your wrench.

Step 6 – Add Clean Oil

Pour the new oil into the filler hole on top of the engine (oil spilled onto the engine or exhaust system will stink up the engine; oil spilled onto the exhaust system can even potentially be ignited). Add the recommended number of quarts, from your owner’s manual. Check with the dipstick to assure proper fill level. Then, replace the oil filler cap and wipe off any spillage. Once you have the oil level reach the recommended line on the dipstick start the engine. The oil light should go out as soon as the engine is started, if it doesn’t, turn off the engine and recheck the oil level on the dipstick. Run the engine for several minutes, then switch it off and check the dipstick once again to assure proper oil level.

Last, but not least, check under the vehicle for leaks. Easier than it sounded, right?

Step 7 – Dispose of Your Used Oil

Thought you were finished? Not quite yet! The final, and in some ways, most important step to your oil change, is the proper disposal of the used oil that you have drained from your vehicle. Used motor oil is highly toxic to the environment and it is of important that it is disposed of in a safe fashion.

We hope this helps you save even more time and money.

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