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Share to PinterestDIY Guide to Changing Your Car's Oil

DIY Guide to Changing Your Car's Oil

By Habitat Staff Writer
Share to PinterestDIY Guide to Changing Your Car's Oil

Changing your car's oil is one of the most fundamental maintenance tasks, crucial for keeping your vehicle running smoothly and extending its lifespan. Regular oil changes ensure that your engine is lubricated, cooled, and clean, directly impacting its performance and efficiency. While the thought of diving under the hood might seem daunting to some, the process isn't as complicated as it appears. With the right tools, a bit of preparation, and an understanding of the steps involved, anyone can change their car's oil, saving money and gaining a sense of accomplishment. This guide aims to demystify the process, making it accessible to car owners who want to take a more hands-on approach to their vehicle's maintenance. Not only does this task save you a trip to the mechanic, but it also gives you invaluable insight into the workings of your car.


Why change your oil?

Share to PinterestMotor oil, car engine close up

Engine oil plays a pivotal role in your car's health. It lubricates moving parts, reduces friction, and helps disperse heat. Over time, oil breaks down and becomes contaminated with dirt, debris, and metal shavings, losing its effectiveness. If not changed, dirty oil can lead to increased wear and tear, reducing your engine's lifespan and efficiency. Regular oil changes remove these contaminants, ensuring your engine runs at peak performance.


Tools and materials needed

Share to PinterestMechanic checking the oil level in a car engine

Before you start, gather the necessary tools and materials. You'll need a wrench to remove the drain plug, an oil filter wrench, a jack and jack stands or ramps to elevate your car, an oil drain pan, and gloves to keep your hands clean. You'll also need new oil and an oil filter specific to your vehicle's make and model. Having the right equipment on hand simplifies the process and ensures you can complete the task efficiently and safely.


Preparing your car

Share to PinterestImage of oil prepared to be added to engine. Car service

Safety first. Park on a level surface and engage the parking brake. If your engine's been running, let it cool for at least 30 minutes. Warm oil drains faster than cold, but it shouldn't be hot to the touch. Elevate your car with jack stands or ramps to gain access to the oil drain plug. This preparation step is crucial for a smooth oil change process, ensuring you have safe and easy access to the underside of your vehicle.


Draining the old oil

Share to PinterestAuto mechanic loosen auto transmission oil drain plug. Then let the old used oil flow out of the oil pan.

Locate the oil drain plug underneath your car and place your oil drain pan beneath it. Carefully remove the plug with a wrench, allowing the old oil to drain completely. This might take a few minutes. Be mindful not to let the oil splash on you as it comes out. Draining the old oil completely is essential for removing as many contaminants as possible before adding fresh oil.


Removing the oil filter

Share to PinterestAuto mechanic with dirty hands and oil filter. Service maintenance.

Next, remove the old oil filter using an oil filter wrench. Oil filters can be tight and filled with oil, so position your drain pan underneath to catch any spills. Once removed, take a moment to ensure the old filter's rubber gasket hasn't stuck to the engine. Proper removal of the oil filter is critical, as a clean filter is necessary to catch any debris in the new oil.


Choosing the right oil

Share to Pinterestmale customer buying engine lubricating oil in the car supermarket. Difficult decision which motor oil to buy

Selecting the correct oil for your vehicle is crucial. Your owner's manual will specify the right type and grade of oil for your engine. Whether it's synthetic or conventional, the right oil will ensure optimal performance and fuel efficiency. The choice of oil can significantly affect your engine's longevity and how well it performs under various driving conditions.


Installing a new oil filter

Share to PinterestCar mechanic holding a new oil filter for a diesel engine in the background oil pan from the engine.

Before installing the new oil filter, apply a small amount of oil to the rubber gasket for a good seal. Screw the new filter into place by hand. It should be snug but don't over-tighten it, as that can strip the threads or make it difficult to remove next time. A properly installed oil filter ensures that the new oil remains clean and free of debris, protecting your engine.


Adding new oil

Share to PinterestYoung man pouring oil into the car.

Now it's time to add fresh oil. Find the oil filler cap on top of your engine, remove it, and use a funnel to pour in the new oil. Check your owner's manual for the correct amount. It's better to add a little at a time and check the level with the dipstick to avoid overfilling. Adding the correct amount of oil is crucial for the engine's performance; too little or too much can cause engine problems.


Checking for leaks

Share to PinterestEngine oil stains of car Leak under the car when the car is park In the garage service floor photo concept for check and maintenance

After you've replaced the oil and filter, start your car and let it run for a few minutes. This circulates the new oil and allows you to check for leaks from the drain plug or filter. If you spot a leak, turn off the engine and tighten the necessary part. Ensuring there are no leaks is vital for maintaining the engine's health and preventing oil loss.


Proper cleanup and disposal

Share to PinterestOld oil of car motor engine.

Cleaning up is just as important as the oil change itself. Wipe away any spills with rags and properly dispose of the old oil and filter. Many auto parts stores and service stations will take used oil and filters for recycling. Proper disposal helps protect the environment and ensures that hazardous materials are handled responsibly.

Changing your car's oil isn't just about vehicle maintenance; it's a rite of passage for many DIY enthusiasts. It's a straightforward task that can save you money and help you understand your vehicle better. Plus, there's a certain satisfaction in knowing you've taken an active role in caring for your car. By following these steps, you'll ensure your vehicle remains in top condition, all while taking pride in your DIY skills.



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