How to Change the Oil in Your Car Or Truck

The oil in your vehicles engine is one of the main components that keep it healthy. There are two things that above all else you need to do to it. Check it often (at least once a month) and make sure it stays clean. The oil helps lubricate the moving parts, helps disperse the heat, improves sealing, and helps keep the inside of your engine clean. Oil is to your engine like blood is to your body, a necessity.

There are three main types of motor oils: conventional, synthetic, and synthetic blend. Conventional motor oil is the least expensive and is basically a by product of the crude oil refining process. It is prone to quicker deterioration, especially when exposed to high levels of heat. Synthetic motor oil is more expensive because it is developed from chemical compounds, making it far cleaner and more stable than conventional motor oil. It’s also able to maintain it’s viscosity, or flow, in most temperatures better than conventional motor oil. The viscosity index is a measure of how much the oil’s viscosity changes as temperature changes. A higher viscosity index indicates the viscosity changes less with temperature than a lower viscosity index. Synthetic blends combine some of the properties of both of the other types of motor oil. This allows the manufacturers to keep the cost more in line with conventional oil. Synthetic blends are basically a conventional motor oil with high performance elements added to help it burn cleaner and withstand greater temperatures than conventional motor oil.

Your oil needs to be changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Refer to your owners manual or ask at your parts store what is recommended by your vehicles manufacturer for your engine. You’ll also need to know what size engine is in your vehicle to get the proper oil filter and proper amount of oil. Most average engines hold 4 to 6 quarts.

The first step in every installation is verifying you have everything to do the installation. You will need a solid, level place to work, a way to elevate the vehicle if you can’t get under it. A floor jack and stands or drive on ramps are the easiest ways. A ratchet and socket or wrench the proper size for your oil drain plug, a oil drain pan, a oil filter wrench, a funnel, disposable gloves, and the new filter and oil.

Tip: Warm oil drains faster than cold oil, but hot oil will burn you. I wouldn’t recommend running the engine for more than 10 minutes before you change the oil because you will get a little on your hand.

Tip: Open the hood and place the oil on top of the engine. You don’t want to forget to put the new oil in the engine.

Once the front of the vehicle is securely supported, crawl under it and locate the oil pan on the bottom of the engine. Usually near the front center of the vehicle and slightly behind or between the front tires. Consult your owners manual or search for a diagram online if you can’t find it. Locate the drain plug.

Place the oil drain pan underneath the plug and loosen the plug with a socket or wrench. Remember lefty loosey and righty tighty.

Remove the plug by hand and hang on to it. Otherwise you’ll be fishing through the oil to dig it out.

After the oil drains, wipe off the plug and plug opening and replace the plug. It’s always good to start all bolts by hand so you know they are not cross-threaded. Tighten with socket or wrench. It needs to be really snug but don’t over tighten it.

Locate the existing filter. Oil filters are usually on the lower side of the engine in front of the oil pan.

Position the oil drain pan under the filter and use an adjustable filter wrench to loosen the oil filter and drain any remaining oil.

Wipe the surface where the filter mounts to the engine and make sure the rubber seal off the filter is not stuck to the engine.

Use some new oil to lightly coat the rubber seal on the new filter and install the filter. Again the filter needs to be snug but most of the time as tight as you can get it with your hands is perfect.

Grab your tools, the oil drain pan and slide out. The hard part is done.

Locate the oil filler cap and remove it from the top of the engine.

Place the funnel in the opening and add the new oil. Keep a check on the level using the dipstick.

Replace cap and run the engine for a minute. This allows the filter to fill up.

Check the dipstick and add more oil if necessary.

Check the area around the drain plug and oil filter for leaks.

Clean up any spilled oil and pour the used oil in a container to drop off at your local recycling center. Please don’t pour it on the ground or in the sewer.

You just saved yourself a few bucks and you have the satisfaction of knowing this project was done right. Order your oil and filter today and start making plans for changing it next weekend.