Maintaining your vehicle properly is one of the best ways to extend the life of your car. The most important part of your automobile is the engine. Without it running properly your vehicle is useless. You can learn how to care for car yourself starting by learning to change the oil.
The old rule of thumb was to change the oil in your vehicle every 3 months or 3,000 miles. With newer more robust engines being built, car manufacturers have changed the rules. Many now say change the oil every 5,000 miles while some select few carmakers say you can wait even longer. To find out the optimal time to change your specific car's engine oil read the owners manual and its maintenance schedule.
First Step: Purchase replacement oil and oil filter. It is more economical to buy the engine oil in a case (12 quarts) or in a gallon container and not as individual quarts of oil. The amount of oil you will need to do the change will vary depending on your type of vehicle. Check with your owner's manual for the correct amount. If you oil has been changed previously try to continue using the same type of oil. Synthetic oil is believed to help lubricate the engine better so if you do decide to change brand or types of oil this would be a good choice.
While reading the owner's manual also find out what size oil filter your vehicle takes. If you forget to look this up there should be a manual or booklet at the auto parts store to look up your vehicle type and year. Purchasing the properly sized oil filter is necessary.
Second Step: Get the car and yourself prepared. Make sure the engine is cooled down first. You do not want to burn yourself while changing the oil. You should not have to jack your car up unless it rides very close to the ground. If that is the case, do not ever jack up the car and go underneath it without having jack stands in place. If you plan to continually change your oil, or do work underneath the car, buy a creeper. This device allows you to lay down flat and wheel yourself under the vehicle.
To prepare yourself trade out your good, clean clothes for overalls or the old, roughed-up jeans or shorts you use for dirty chores. You should stay clean while changing your oil but it is better not to chance soiling your good clothes. Overalls are the best piece of clothing you can have for changing the oil, or doing any repairs on your automobile. Just keep them in the trunk of you car to keep them handy at all times. Grandpa said so.
Third Step: Drain the used oil. Lay flat under your car and locate the oil drain plug. It should be easy to find since it is the bolt protruding from a relatively large tank. Place a pan under where the bolt is located. The size of the pan needed depends on how many quarts of oil your car will be discharging. You should have a rough estimate from knowing how many quarts you will have to add later.
Using a box wrench, remove the oil drain plug. As you take off this bolt, try your best not to round the edges. If you do than you will need a vise grip to get it off in the future. Once the bolt is removed, the oil should begin to drain out into the pan you placed under the hole. Once the oil stops draining screw the bolt back it. Make sure it is nice and tight.
Forth Step: Replace the oil filter. Locate your oil filter. If you do not know where this is, located your handy-dandy owner's manual and find out where it is. The location of the oil filter might vary from car to car but it is attached to the engine. The oil filter can be located on the top, side, or underside of the engine.
To remove the oil filter you will need an oil filter wrench. This tool is relativity inexpensive to purchase. To remove the oil filter place the filter wrench around it and lightly rotate it in a counter-clockwise direction. There will be oil in the filter so try to drain it into the pan you used earlier.
Grab your new oil filter and with your finger dab on a thin coat of oil onto its gasket. This will allow it to seal better. Now begin to screw in the new filter. The filter should have instructions on it of how to properly seat and turn the filter. Once the filter is "finger tight" use the oil filter wrench to tighten it on properly. You do not want over-tighten or under-tighten the filter or you will have oil pressure problems.
Fifth Step: Add the new oil. The oil filler cap is located on the top of your engine and is usually marked with the words "oil". You will most likely need a funnel at this point so that you do not spill any oil. To determine the amount of oil you will have to check your owner's manual. Nevertheless, you are smart and looked this amount up when you went shopping for engine oil, didn't you? Never overfill your engine with oil. Replace the oil filler cap.
After the new oil has been added, check the dipstick to make certain the correct amount has been added. If you could not find your owner's manual and are not certain of the amount of oil to put in put in 4 quarts and check the dipstick. If it shows you are still low, add another half or full quart. A car takes that average amount.
Sixth Step: Even before starting the engine check under it, and make sure you do not see any obvious oil drips. If there are no leaks visible now you can start the engine. Start the engine, check for leaks again. First sign to verifying you changed your engine oil correctly is seeing the oil warning light going off when you start the car up.
With the engine running, check under the car to confirm you do not see any oil leaking or dripping down. After a few minutes shut the engine off and let it set for another few minutes. Go back under the hood and check the dipstick to see where the oil level is at now. It should be at the full mark.
Seventh Step: Dispose of the used oil. Pour the used oil from the pan into a proper container. The best containers for the used oil are the ones you just used to pour the new oil out You cannot throw out the used oil with your normal trash because it will drain into the ground and cause environmental problems. Also never, ever put used oil down a storm drain either. What you need to do is take the containers to an oil-recycling center. If your local auto center does not participate in this program, they should be able to direct you to a place that does.
Congratulations, you have just changed your engine oil. If you are prepared with the proper tools when you start, it should take you less than a half hour. The more often you change your own oil the quicker your time will get.