How to change engine oil and filter on any car
Welcome to YOUCANIC. In this tutorial, we will show you how to change engine oil and filter yourself. By doing an oil change yourself, you can save money. You also can ensure that you are using high-quality oil and a good oil filter and know that the job is done right.
First, let's take a look at some of the tools needed to change your oil.
- Oil filter wrench
- Oil drain pan
- Latex Gloves
- Ramps and jack stand (or floor jack and jack stands)
You will need a socket set that includes a ratchet and a socket. If you don't have any of these tools, take a look at our article on Tools you need to change engine oil.
Your next step is to choose the right oil filter and oil type. The easiest way to find out what oil your car uses is to look at the oil filter cap. The oil viscosity is usually printed on the oil cap. If it is not, then you need to find the owner's manual. Find the recommended fluids and lubricants section. Here you will be able to see the recommended oil type, the standards the oil should meet, and the quantity of oil needed.
Head over to your local auto parts store. Once you find the oil section, carefully select the correct oil viscosity. The viscosity is printed on the front of the oil bottles. API oil specifications requirements are also printed on the bottle. Ensure that you will get the right quantity of oil as stated in your owner's manual. You can choose between synthetic and conventional motor oil. We would recommend synthetic oil over conventual oil. If you decide to use full synthetic motor oil, then you can go longer between oil changes. If you are using conventional oil, change the oil every three thousand miles. Often owners use conventional oil but forget to change the oil every 3 thousand miles. This is because their vehicles are programmed to remind the owner for an oil change based on synthetic oil, which is not needed as frequently.
Once you get the right oil filter type and oil you are ready to change the oil. So let's get started.
Instructions on how to change engine oil yourself
Step 1: Jack up the car
You have a couple of options here. Use can use ramps or a jack. Car ramps is a safer option for beginners.
If you are going to use ramps, start by rolling your vehicle onto the ramps. Next, put your vehicle in Park. Turn the ignition off and remove the key. Set your emergency parking brakes. Now you need to block the rear tires so that your vehicle does not roll when you are working underneath.
If you are going to use the jack and jack stands, start by putting your vehicle in Park and set the emergency brakes. Next, jack the car up. The jacking points for your car are identified in the owner's manual. Once there is enough clearance for you to position yourself under the car, make sure to set the jack stands under the car. Now lower the car so that the weight of the car is supported by the jack stand. Once the car is lowered on the jack stand, re-tighten the car jack so that the jack is also supporting a little bit of the vehicle weight.
IMPORTANT: Risk of injury. Always use a second method (such as jack stands) to support and secure the vehicle.
Step 2: Remove splash shield / lower engine cover
Modern cars have a cover under the engine which shouldn't scare you. It is held in place with several 10mm bolts.
Plastic screws may also be used. Some cars have a combination of both screws and plastic retainers. Remove all of them to drop the cover and access the oil pan.
Step 3: Drain Oil
Before you remove the oil drain plug, slide an oil drain pan under the oil bolt.
Loosen the oil drain bolt by turning it counterclockwise. If removing the oil drain bolt is extremely difficult, then ensure that you are not turning the bolt in the wrong direction.
Drain engine oil. If the engine is still hot be careful because the engine oil is going to be hot as well. It can cause burns if it comes in contact with your skin. Carefully, remove the oil drain plug and let the engine oil drain for several minutes.
Step 4: Change oil plug washer and reinstall drain plug
Inspect your oil drain plug to see if it has a washer. The washer prevents oil leaks from the drain plug. If this is a copper washer it needs to be replaced with a new one. Remove the old washer and install the new washer. While it is recommended to replace the oil drain plug gasket, some car owners reuse the drain plug washer several times without any issues or oil leaks.
Install the drain plug by threading it clockwise. Screw it by hand initially to avoid cross threading. Use a ratchet to tighten the drain plug. It is not necessary to use a breaker bar to tighten the drain plug. Tighten the drain plug to 25 ft-lb. The recommended torque should also be described in your owner’s manual.
Step 5: Replace oil filter
Use an oil wrench to remove the oil filter. You should have the oil drain pan right under the oil filter as oil may drip from the oil filter when you remove the oil filter.
Grab your new filter. It is recommended to pre-oil your new filter, avoid the engine running dry at startup. Place a little bit of oil in the gasket. This will make it easy for you to remove the oil filter at your next oil change and avoid oil leaks. Thread the new oil filter. The new oil filter should go in very easily. Don't force the filter, it should go on very easily. Tighten the oil filter by hand.
On certain vehicles such as BMW, Mercedes, Dodge, Chrysler the oil filter may be located on top of the engine. Replacing these oil filters is simple and straight forward.
Let's look at an example:
How to change the oil filter on a Mercedes-Benz.
Step 6: Add engine oil
Now we need to add engine oil. Do not start the vehicle until you add the required engine oil. Look at the top of the engine and locate the oil cap. Clean the area around the oil cap with a cloth. Remove the cap and place a funnel to add oil to your engine.
Determine how much oil you will need to add. Pay attention to the oil level strip on the oil bottle. By looking at the oil level strip, you will be able to determine how much oil you have added to your car. Keep a towel handy to clean any oil spills.
Step 7: Check Engine Oil Level
If you had the engine running or you just added oil to the engine, you should wait at least 5 minutes for the engine oil to return to the oil pan.
This will allow the engine oil to return to the oil pan so that you can take an accurate measurement. Wait a few minutes and recheck the engine oil level.
Frequently Asked Questions
There is a lot of discussion on this topic whether you should change the oil when the engine is hot or cold. If you try to change the engine when the oil is hot, you risk burning yourself. It is ok to change the engine oil if the oil is warm. The thing to keep in mind is that you may have some residue oil left. A very small amount that you don't need to worry about. If you want to get as much of the old oil out, let the engine sit overnight. Raise the car but do not start the engine. Remove the drain plug and let the oil drain. This is the best method to remove as much of the old oil as possible.
Anywhere from $19.99 to $150. A four cylinder engine that takes 5w30 or 0w20 such as a Honda Civic or Ford Focus will only cost you about $20. A Mercedes-Benz E-Class that takes 8.5L synthetic oil and fleece oil filter may cost as much as $150 at the dealer. Two of the main factors that play a role on engine oil cost are the oil type (synthetic, synthetic blend, conventional) and oil quantity required. Oil filter quality and how easy it is to remove may also play a role in the price of oil change.
- Conventional Oil - Every 3,000 miles
- Synthetic Blend - Every 5,000 miles
- Synthetic Oil - Every 7500-10,000 miles (verify owner's manual)
Yes, you can. Follow these guide. We hope that once you go over all the steps you will feel confident about the procedure to change the engine oil at home.
While the age of oil can play a factor on the engine oil life, you need to pay closer attention to the miles driven. If you drive very little (under 5,000 miles) and use synthetic oil, you should be ok with changing the oil once a year.
No. You should change the oil filter at the same time that you change the engine oil. Oil filters do not last forever and if not changed regularly they will not filter the oil or even worse clog. In which case the oil may bypass the oil filter altogether, which is a situation you don't want as you may shorten the life of the engine.
It means you need to take the car to an auto repair shop or your dealer so that they can change the oil with lubricates the engine. Don't drive for months with this light on. Take the car to a shop within a week of this warning.
Yes. Most drivers should change the engine oil at least twice if not more per year depending on the oil type. If you put about 15,000 miles per year which is the national average in US, you should change the engine oil at least twice per year. Assuming that you are using synthetic oil and a good oil filter. If you use conventional oil, you should change the engine oil every 3,000 miles or in this case 5 times per year. How do you know if you need convetional oil or synthetic? Look it up on your owner's manual. Look at the bottle of oil that you purchase, it will say conventional or synthetic oil. It's ok to switch to synthetic oil. Most modern cars use synthetic oil.
Every makes has different oil change interval recommendations varying from 3,000 to 10,000 miles. Here is the general rule: If using conventional oil type, change the engine oil every 3,000 miles. When using synthetic oil, change it every 7,500 miles and you will be safe. Make sure to use a quality oil filter when going for the long oil change intervals.
Change the engine oil after storage. Oil can lose its lubricating properties when sitting for extended period of time. Change the engine oil if your car has been sitting for a long time.
You are shortening the life of your car. Sludge may build up. The engine may start to knock. Most importantly bearings will wear much faster. You may not notice any symptoms right away, but you are causing premature wear to your car engine.
Check on your owners manual. Every car has a different capacity. There is no correlation between the number of cylinders and the oil capacity. Some 6 cylinder engines require only four quarts while others may require eight quarts. Always check the owner's manual. You don't want to overfill or underfill.
The oil light may come on when you are low on engine oil or when there is low oil pressure due to serious engine problems. Regardless of the reasons, you should NEVER drive a car with the engine oil light on. You won't make it very far. Plus you risk seizing the engine and causing damage that can cost you thousands. Get the car diagnosed by a mechanic.