How to Change Your Motor Oil


Plan to change your motor oil every 3,000 miles or every 3 months if you want to be on the safe side, but know that most cars no longer require an oil change after every 3,000 miles. You will not damage the engine by letting it run 4,000 miles in between oil changes. However, if you've been driving in very hot and/or dusty conditions you should stick to the 3,000 mile schedule, or even more frequent changes.

Moderately Challenging


Things You'll Need

  • Old Rags
  • Ratchet Sets
  • Car Jacks
  • New Oil Filters
  • Car Manuals
  • Funnels
  • Oil Drain Pans
  • Oil Filter Wrenches
  • Plastic Containers
  • Jack Stands
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Socket Sets
  • 4 - 5 quarts motor oil
  • Car Creepers
  1. Getting Ready

    • 1

      Gather necessary tools and materials (refer to Necessary Items list). If you plan to change your oil regularly, consider investing in jack stands, a socket set and an oil drain pan.

    • 2

      Run the car's engine for 10 minutes before you drain the oil. Warm oil drains faster than cold oil.

    • 3

      Park the car on a level surface, engage the parking brake and turn off the engine. If your car has a low clearance, raise it by driving it onto a ramp or by jacking it up and supporting it securely.

    • 4

      Open the hood and place the new oil and funnel on top of the engine to ensure that you won't forget to add oil afterwards (an expensive mistake that many do-it-yourselfers make!).

    Draining the Oil and Changing the Oil Filter

    • 5

      Crawl under the car once it is securely supported.

    • 6

      Locate the oil drain plug on the underside of the engine, usually near the front center of the car. Consult your owner's manual for the exact location.

    • 7

      Place the oil drain pan under the plug and loosen the plug with a socket wrench. Remember: turn counterclockwise to remove bolts.

    • 8

      Remove the plug by hand. Be prepared for the rush of hot oil!

    • 9

      Let the oil drain into the pan. Hold onto the plug.

    • 10

      Reposition the pan, if necessary, to catch all the dripping oil.

    • 11

      Wipe off the drain plug and the plug opening when the oil finishes draining.

    • 12

      Replace the drain plug gasket.

    • 13

      Reinstall the plug. Always start threading any bolts or screws by hand to prevent cross threading.

    • 14

      Tighten with a wrench or socket. Be careful not to overtighten the plug.

    • 15

      Locate the existing oil filter. Oil filters are usually on the side of the engine.

    • 16

      Position the oil pan underneath the filter to catch any remaining oil.

    • 17

      Use an adjustable oil filter wrench to unscrew the old oil filter.

    • 18

      Use a rag to wipe the area where the filter mounts to the engine. Make sure the rubber seal of the old filter is not stuck to the engine.

    • 19

      Use some new oil to lightly coat the rubber seal of the new filter.

    • 20

      Screw the new filter into place by hand. It's usually not necessary to tighten the oil filter with the oil filter wrench, but have it at the ready if you're grip's not strong (or large) enough.

    Installing New Oil and Cleaning Up

    • 21

      Locate the oil filler cap on top of the engine. Remove it.

    • 22

      Place the funnel in the opening and pour in the new oil. Typically, you will use 4 to 5 quarts of oil. Check your manual for the correct oil capacity.

    • 23

      Replace the cap when you're finished.

    • 24

      Run the engine for a minute, then check the dipstick. Add more oil if necessary.

    • 25

      Check the area around the oil drain plug and the filter for oil leaks. Tighten the plug or oil filter if you find leakage.

    • 26

      Use rags and newspapers to wipe away excess oil.

    • 27

      Pour the used oil into a plastic container after the used oil cools.

    • 28

      Dispose the used oil properly: either bring it to a recycling center or an auto repair shop that can recycle it for you. Don't pour it down the sewer!

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