Oil plays an integral part in how well your vehicle works and a necessary part of your vehicle’s monthly maintenance. Learning how to change the oil in your car may help you save some money, time, and extend the life of your car’s engine. Learn these simple steps.

5 Simple Steps to Change Oil

Changing your vehicle’s oil is an important part of the regular maintenance to keep your car running smoothly. While there’s a good chance that you already know how to check the oil on your car (and you should definitely know how to check the oil), you might not know how to change the oil. 

Knowing how to change your car’s oil might save you a little bit of money and may save you the hassle of trying to find a time to have your oil changed by a mechanic. We’ll discuss the basics steps of how to change oil and give you a few helpful tips. 

The Importance Of Changing Your Oil

When your vehicle runs well, you probably don’t think twice about how it functions. Oil is responsible for keeping the engine and other parts lubricated and running efficiently. If you let your car’s oil run too low or you fail to have it changed, it can affect how well your car runs, and without oil, you may run into expensive mechanical problems

If you can’t remember the last time your oil was changed, your vehicle could probably benefit from new oil.

Signs That You Need An Oil Change

Even though your vehicle’s oil should be changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, some signs that may indicate that you need to change the oil as soon as possible.

  • The oil is dark and looks dirty; clean and new oil is amber colored.
  • Your car’s engine gets louder; this could mean it’s low on lubrication.
  • You start seeing exhaust smoke coming out the tailpipe

If you experience car troubles and you’re not sure if an oil change will resolve the issue, you can always check with your trusted mechanic. You can also go ahead and change the oil, but if you continue to have issues with your vehicle, make an appointment with your mechanic right away.

The Simple Steps Of Changing Your Oil

Learning how to change oil isn’t as overwhelming as you may think and once you get the hang of it, you might wish that you learned years ago. Changing your oil doesn’t take too long (most experts estimate a half hour). It might take you a little longer than usual during your first few times, but it should get easier each time. 

The best way to ensure that you’re able to change your oil quickly is to have everything you need ahead of time. 

Getting Prepared For An Oil Change

Before you can learn how to change oil, you need to have all the tools and parts on hand. No one wants to stop in the middle of a project, like changing the car oil, so that they can run to the store for more parts. 

Changing oil can get a little messy, so it’s best to have rags and a drop cloth (such as plastic or a tarp) on hand. A pair of disposable gloves (such as latex or vinyl) can keep your hands clean while changing oil. 

Other tools include safety glasses, a wrench set (which includes an oil filter wrench), a funnel, and an oil pan. You should be able to find all of the things you need at your local auto parts store and for a reasonable price. 

Don’t forget to pick up engine oil, an oil filter, an oil filter gasket, and a container for the old oil that you drain out of your vehicle. The vehicle manual should tell you what kind of oil you should purchase, but if you buy your oil and filter at an auto parts store, an employee can help you find the right parts for your vehicle

You might be wondering how many quarts of oil you will need to for an oil change. Depending on the size of your engine you will probably need between five and eight quarts, but it never hurts to have extra on hand (as you’ll have to add more oil at some point).

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Warm The Engine

Before you can begin the oil change, it’s important to have a warm engine. If your engine is cold, let your car warm up for about five minutes. If you’ve been driving your car and the engine is hot, let it cool a bit to prevent getting burned. The engine should feel warm to the touch; never keep your car running while changing the oil. 

Drain The Oil and Remove The Old Oil Filter

If you cannot fit comfortably (or safely) underneath your vehicle, you will need to jack up your car before you can drain the oil. After you have put your car on jacks, look for the drain plug, a nut or plug, which is located on the underside of the engine and place a container under the plug and unscrew the plug. The oil should drain out of your engine. 

When your engine is empty of oil, remove the cap from the oil filter; you may need to use an oil filter wrench to make the removal easier. The filter will have some residual oil in it, so make sure that any of that is emptied into the container with old oil. Make sure the old rubber gasket is removed before installing the new filter.

Installing A New Oil Filter and Put in The Drain Plug

As you prepare to install the new oil filter, rub a little clean and new oil on the gasket of the oil filter. Replace the new filter where the old one was and follow all directions on the filter (or the instructions on the box). You should be able to install it without a wrench. 

After the oil filter is in place, don’t forget to put the drain plug (or nut) back in your engine. Before you put the plug in place, wipe away any excess old oil from the hole and wipe off the plug; you can use an adjustable wrench to tighten it (just make sure it’s threaded into the hole correctly). 

Adding New Oil To Your Engine

After you’ve double checked that your drain plug is snug and in place, you can begin adding oil to your engine. Using a funnel, slowly pour a quart of oil into your engine; be patient as this may take awhile. You should add all of your quarts, but one. 

Put the cover back on your engine, and let your engine run for about a minute. As your vehicle is running, pay attention to the oil plug and the filter, looking for drips. Turn off your engine, wait for approximately ten minutes and check the oil level by checking the oil dipstick. Continue to add oil from the remaining quart until you read a “full” level on the dipstick. 

Once you get a “full” reading, remove the oil container from under your vehicle and take your car out for a test drive. You don’t need to drive far, just enough to get the oil circulating and letting the engine warm up. 

Park your car, turn it off, and let the oil settle for another ten minutes. If your dipstick reading is still at the full mark, you have successfully changed the oil in your car; you can add more oil if needed. 

Don’t Forget To Get Rid Of Your Old Oil

Now that you’ve successfully done an oil change on your vehicle don’t forget to dispose of your old oil properly. You should never toss your oil in the trash to be picked up at curbside. Check with the laws in your state, but most auto parts stores will recycle your old vehicle oil for you. 

Don’t forget to ask if you can give them your old oil filter, too. You don’t want to toss that in the garbage because it’s full of old oil (even after you’ve drained most of it out of the filter).

Final Thoughts on Changing Your Car’s Oil

While the steps we’ve shared with you are designed to give you a good overall idea on how to change your vehicle’s oil, you may benefit from a visual approach. There are plenty of online videos that show you how to change your oil, but try to watch one from a certified mechanic (or someone who follows the simple steps we have already mentioned). 

It’s important to allow yourself some extra time when changing the oil for the first time. Even though the whole process takes less than an hour, you don’t want to rush through the steps. As with many projects, rushing through them can result in errors and messes.

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