Not all of us can be a master mechanic and perform every service our car needs, but knowing how to perform basic services to maintain your car both saves you money and improves safety. When you know how your car works, you are better equipped to assess issues and possibly fix them without feeling helpless. One of the most commonly performed at-home maintenance services and one of the most important things you can do to keep your car in good condition is changing the motor oil and oil filter. Doing this yourself is relatively inexpensive and easy.
Don't Ignore The Owner's Manual
If you've always wanted to learn how change your car's oil and filter, this guide can help! Just remember to always reference your car's owner's manual for any vehicle-specific details. The mileage intervals when they need to be changed are listed in the owner's manual. Also in the owner's manual is the grade and amount of motor oil you'll need, as well as any requirements for the filter.
Here's what you'll need to be an at-home mechanic, at least as far as the oil change is concerned:
Oil filter wrench, in case you can't loosen it by hand
Mat, newspaper, or big, flat piece of cardboard to catch any oil spills under the car
Drain the old motor oil.
Start your car and let it run for a minute or two, or drive it around the block so the motor oil warms up, which will allow it drain out smoothly. After the warm up, park your car in the driveway or garage, ON LEVEL GROUND.
If your car is too low to the ground to slide under, you'll need to jack it up and place jack stands before you get under it (jack stands are a must!).
Prop up the hood and loosen the cap on the oil tank or else it won't drain well.
Place your spill mat or cardboard under the vehicle and slide on under with the oil pan.
Locate the drain plug.
Place the pan on top of newspaper/cardboard below and slightly ahead of the drain plug (the stream will release farther out when you first remove the drain plug).
Loosen the drain plug with the socket wrench, turning it counterclockwise, and then remove the plug slowly by hand and let the motor oil drain out. Caution: Oil may be hot.
Once the oil slows down to a drip, reinstall the drain plug and tighten it with the socket wrench (just a quarter turn clockwise should be sufficient)