Useful Car Tips

Changing Your Own Oil: What You Need To Know To Get Started

November 23, 2018
Changing your own oil can be a satisfying and financially beneficial experience. If you love your car, changing its oil is a great way to get a closer look at how everything works and fits together under the hood. It’s also a great way to save a few bucks while giving your car the attention it needs. But, if you’ve never changed the oil in your vehicle, it might sound like a daunting task. Don’t worry … for most cars and trucks it’s actually pretty simple.

Know Your Vehicle—and What it Needs

Just like your body, your car needs a few specific things in order to work properly. Your car needs the right kind of fuel, and it needs the right kind of oil and filter. Before you begin changing the oil in your vehicle, it’s important to take a look at the owner’s manual and verify what type of oil your car needs and how much you’ll need to add after draining the old stuff.

Gather Your Supplies

Once you know what type of oil you need and how much, it’s time to collect your supplies. Your owner’s manual probably won’t specify what type of filter you’ll need, but most auto parts stores can quickly identify what filters will fit your car. Be on the look out for deals, some places sell oil and filter bundles that save you some cash. You might notice that by changing your own oil, you can even upgrade and get synthetic oil which is much better for your vehicle and lasts longer.

Pick the Right Tools

In addition to oil and a filter, you’ll need a few tools to get the job done. For most vehicles, a common socket set or set of wrenches with metric and SAE sizes will do the trick for draining the old oil. Some oil filters will require a specialty wrench to remove but many can be removed by hand—assuming you have a strong grip. You’ll also need some sort of pan to drain the old oil into, since letting the old stuff run down your driveway is probably not the best way to dispose of it. And of course, since most of us don't have access to a lift, you will need a trusty Car Jack and Jack Stands. Jack stands are very important! Never work under a car without the proper jack stands since a regular Jack may fail at any time.

The Aftermath

Once you’ve drained the old oil out of your vehicle and replaced the filter, it’s time for the fun part: cleaning up. Properly disposing of your used motor oil is actually a very important part of the process. And dumping your old oil down a storm drain or into the trash is not properly disposing of it. In some areas, it’s even considered a crime to dump used oil anywhere besides an approved facility. The easy solution to getting rid of your used oil is to simply add the new oil to your vehicle, then add the old stuff to the empty oil containers. Once you’re done, take the containers to an auto parts store or another facility that accepts used oil, most places do.

Your Turn

Now that you know how to change your own oil, it’s time to get started. The process isn’t nearly as difficult as it sounds. Simply follow your manufacturers recommendations and refer to a service manual or other reliable source for anything your manual doesn’t cover.
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