Oil Change: Step-by-Step Instructions, Changing Oil the Right Way in Vehicles

Are you a new driver or someone looking to start doing their own auto repair and maintenance, including changing oil in your vehicle ? Man, Woman, young, or not, I have some tips that will make this relatively easy task much more rewarding. You will also have confidence in knowing that you did the oil change correctly. Believe it or not, it can be done incorrectly and cost thousands of dollars to correct an oil change in your automobile .

Changing Oil the Right Way: Power Wash Engine Compartment

Before you even jack the car up, the first thing I recommend is a good power wash of the engine compartment. This can be done with a rented power washer or done at a local quarter wash facility . A clean engine compartment is so much nicer to do work on than a dirty, greasy one. This also reduces the risk of any contamination or dirt entering the internals of the engine.

What to Buy for Changing Oil in Vehicle

When purchasing the oil and filter, also purchase a new drain plug o-ring or washer. Many of these are considered a one-time use and may cause a leak around the drain plug if not replaced , a little extra insurance, if you will. Before jacking the car up, open the hood and remove the oil fill cap. This is a good way to remember that there is no oil in the engine after it has been drained. I recall a time that a drained the oil and changed the filter, dropped the car down from it raised position and walked away to wash my hands. Another person assumed the work was done and drove the car from the shop with no oil . Thankfully no damage was done and the engine had enough residual oil to prevent damage. This could have been far worse. See my point?

Jacking Car Up for Oil Change: Step-by-Step Instructions

Elevate the car in the air safely with a floor jack . Make sure to use a good quality floor jack and jack stands. The jack should roll freely on all four wheels and hold the car in the air without leaking down. The jack stands should be at least 3 ton capacity or more and made out of high quality materials. If you have not purchased jack stands, spend a few extra dollars and get a good pair. Always make sure you are jacking the car up on a level, solid floor; such as a concrete drive or garage floor. Make sure the jack rolls as it is lifting the vehicle. If it does not roll, it is possible for the jack to move on the lifting point of the vehicle and cause damage or worse. A good alternitive to the jack and jack stand method is a pair of car ramps. You may need a spotter to assist when driving a vehicle onto car ramps..

Changing Oil the Right Way: Draining Oil and Removing Filter
in Vehicle
It is important to make sure the engine is up to operating temperature before draining. This allows the oil to drain completely . Along with the purchase of the oil and filter, a small bag of kitty litter or oil absorbent may be required. I actually recommend it. As careful as you may be, there is always a chance of some spillage. When removing the oil filter, make sure that the oil filter gasket comes off with the filter. I have seen too many times where the gasket will stick to the engine and create a double gasket filter. This is a problem and will cause a big mess on the ground. You will also want to wipe the area where the filter threads on with a clean lint free rag. Use some clean new engine oil and wipe the new oil filter gasket with a thin coat of oil. This will help the next time the oil is changed. When oil filters are installed and tightened dry, they can be difficult to remove. In addition, when installing the new filter, it is only necessary to tighten by hand at least 1/2-1 full turn after contact with the engine. You do not need to use an oil filter wrench to install a new oil filter.

Inspecting Oil Drain Plug for Oil Change
Clean and inspect the oil drain plug for damage. If it needs to be replaced, now is the time. Replace the o-ring or washer you purchased and install the drain plug. Make sure you start the drain plug by hand and thread it in at least two turns. A cross-threaded oil drain plug or oil pan is not fun to repair . In case of an emergency , there are drain plugs made to get you going. Some are rubber plugs and some are self-threading type. A little extra care and a cross-threading problem will not be an issue.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Lowering Vehicle and Finishing Up
Now its time to get the vehicle back down on the ground. Following the manufacturer’s specifications, fill the engine with the correct amount of oil, and install the oil fill cap. Now it is time to see how well you did. Start the engine and look under the front of the vehicle and make sure there is nothing leaking on the ground. If so, shut the engine off immediately and investigate by jacking the car back up and placing the jack stands. If there are no leaks, shut the engine off, and pull the dip stick to check the level. Make sure the oil is at the proper level and call it a great job. Now you have used engine oil and don’t know what to do with it. Most auto parts chains like auto zone , take waste oil for no charge. Also some communities have a place that you can take used oil for recycling.

Changing oil in your vehicle may seem like a daunting task, but it is easier than auto owners think. Use this guide as your step-by-step instructions to do it the right way.