Changing the Oil and Filter Safely and Correctly

24Changing the engine oil and filter are the simplest and single most important maintenance task for the DIY owner. As engine oil ages, it becomes diluted and contaminated, which leads to premature engine wear. Half an hour of work can make your engine live longer and perform better.

Before starting the work, get everything you need close to hand. You will need plenty of clean rags and newspapers handy, you’re bound to get spills somewhere along the line!. Start the job straight after a run in the car as the oil will drain more easily, and any sludge build up will be mixed up in the oil and drain at the same time. Remember – the exhaust and any other hot parts of the engine can cause bad burns when working under the vehicle so take care to avoid them, its a good idea to wear gloves when you do this to avoid any possibility of scalding, and to protect yourself from any skin irritants and possible contaminants in used engine oils.

Firmly apply the handbrake, then jack up the front of the vehicle and support it on axle stands or a sturdy pair of ramps, remember that the engine should slope towards the drain hole ideally

Remove the oil filler cap.

To make things easier, unscrew the fasteners and remove the plastic shield below the engine.

Using a spanner, or even better a socket and bar, slack off the drain plug on the bottom of the sump about half a turn before you put whatever you are draining the oil into under the drain plug, then remove the plug completely.(make sure the container is big enough to take the oil and bear in mind the oil itself will be hot)

Allow some time for the oil to drain, bear in mind to reposition the container as the oil flow slows to a halt.

After all the oil has drained out, wipe the drain plug and the sealing washer with a clean rag. At this point check the sealing washer, and renew it if it shows signs of damage which may prevent an oil-tight seal (it makes sense to fit a new washer every time, they are as cheap as chips). Clean around the drain plug opening, and refit the plug complete with washer then tighten it securely without overtightening.

Move the container into position under the oil filter which is on the rear of the cylinder block.

Use an oil filter removal tool if the filter is too tight to unscrew, then unscrew it by hand the rest of the way. Empty the oil from the old filter into the container, then poke a hole in the top of the filter with an old screwdriver or similar,and drain the rest of the oil from the filter into the container.

Using a clean rag remove all oil, dirt and gunge from the area where the filter fastens and seals on the engine.

Lubricate the sealing ring on the new filter with clean engine oil, then screw the filter into position on the engine. Tighten the filter firmly by hand only – there is no need to use any tools, it seals better this way.

Remove the old oil everything else from under the vehicle, refit the undershield, and lower the vehicle to the ground.

With the car on level ground, fill the engine, using the correct grade and type of oil. An oil can spout or funnel will help to reduce spillage. Pour in half the total of oil you need to fill the engine first, then wait a few minutes for the oil to run reach the sump.

Continue adding oil a little at a time until the level reaches the MIN mark on the dipstick. A litre of oil will now bring the level up to the MAX on the dipstick – don’t worry if a bit too much goes in, as some of the excess will be taken up in filling the oil filter. Refit the dipstick and put the filler cap back on.

Start and run the engine for a few minutes, and check for leaks around the oil filter seal and the sump drain plug. There may be a delay of a few seconds before the low oil pressure warning light goes out when the engine is first started, as the oil circulates through the new oil filter and the rest of the engine before the pressure builds up.

Stop the engine, and wait a few minutes for the oil to settle in the sump again.Now the new oil has circulated and the filter is completely full, recheck the level on the dipstick, and add more oil if necessary.

Its important to dispose of the used engine oil and the old oil filter safely, your local recycling points have containers for waste oil, with oil filter disposal bins as well, DON’T tip oil down the drain!