One of the simplest things any car owner can do on their own is a simple oil change. In this post, I would like to go through the basic steps on an oil change, along with some of the mistakes I have made as I have learned.
Every car will eventually need its oil changed, except for some of the EVs out there. There are many options to get your oil done, at the dealership, at any indie shop, quick lube shops or my favorite, at home. This is a very easy way to get more acquainted with your own vehicle and it can be done fairly cheaply.
Disclosure: I am not a mechanic, nor trained in repairing an auto in any official way. I have spent much time learning for myself and with trial and error. Always look up the specific instructions and specs for your particular vehicle. Consult a trusted mechanic if you are unsure of what to do.
So let’s get started.
First, you will need the proper tools and parts. Oil (and funnel) is the obvious first one here, be sure to get a viscosity (5w30 for example). This information on what and how much to get will be most likely located in your owners manual. I have come across the instance of manufacturers not listing quantity to drive people to the dealership for changes. This is one of the cases where forums are actually helpful.
You will also need a filter, I normally just run to my nearest parts store and pick a mid-grade one, not super cheap but also not crazy expensive. It will either be housed within itself or be just the filter and your vehicle will have a built-in housing.
I have seen crush washers on the drain plug of some cars, and some without, consult a forum for this one.
Lastly, the tools. Depending on the filter, a filter wrench is a great thing to have. If it is a filter with a metal housing, you can probably skip the wrench and stab it with a screwdriver at an angle to twist it off (probably not the smartest method but it has not failed me once). A decent socket set is also a must-have for any garage related activity. Also needed is a good jack and stands which are all surprisingly inexpensive most places. Finally, something to catch the oil in, mine has little wheels to make it easier to scoot and a pour spout for easy emptying, it only cost me $15,
Now the actual how to.
After letting the car warm up a little, start by safely jacking the car and supporting it on the jack stands, no one wants to be crushed by a car so take that little extra step to ensure the stands are set properly. Next, take off the filler cap on top, if you don’t, the oil will drain very slowly. Then get under the car and locate the drain plug. Put your container roughly underneath the plug but know the used oil will come out with some pressure.
Slowly loosen the plug. This allows you to be able to catch the oil coming out a little better.
Let the car drain for a bit, I like to wait till there are about 20-30 seconds between drips. This is partly because I am lazy and partially to get as much new oil in as possible. Sometimes I will swap the filter here, instructions below.
Once the oil is drained, there will most likely be a crush washer to replace, you can stick the drain plug back in just hand tight. No need for it to be crazy tight.
Now for the filter.
Depending on your car, the filter will be on the bottom. There is quite a bit of oil in there too, so be ready to catch some. Sometimes I will take this off before replacing the drain plug so any that drops back in can drain. In most German cars I have seen, there is a filter built into a housing right on top. This is super convenient. Whichever you have, just unscrew, and replace. Make sure to wet the o-ring with some of the old oil before putting the new one on.
Refill the oil.
Use your funnel and put the prescribed amount of oil back into the top of the car. That’s pretty much it.
Lower the car off the stands and move it from over any spills and let the car idle for a few mins. Any leaks will be fairly prevalent during this time. Double check the oil level after turning the car off and if the level is fine, you are done.
That’s it! You have just changed your oil. Drive around the rest of the day with a feeling of accomplishment.