Need to change your Engine Oil? Learn the 10 easy steps to change your vehicle’s oil by following the procedures below.
In this article, we go over how to change the engine oil in a car. We drain the oil from the oil pan and change the filter as most car manufacturers recommend. It is possible to change the engine oil by using an oil extractor. For help with that procedure, see our guide on changing engine oil using an oil extractor.
What you will need
First, look at some of the tools needed to change your oil.
- Oil filter wrench
- Oil drain pan
- Work Gloves
- Jack stands
- Metric Sockets
- Wheel Chocks
- Torque Wrench
- Jack up the car. The first step is to jack up the vehicle. You can drive the vehicle up on ramps if you have them; otherwise, use a floor jack. Place the car in Park. Turn the ignition off and remove the key from the ignition. You must block the rear tires, so your vehicle does not roll while working underneath. Secure the vehicle with jack stands. Always secure the vehicle with jack stands. Place wheel chocks behind the rear tires to prevent the car from rolling.
Remove Splash Shield. Modern cars have a cover under the engine that needs to be removed. It is held in place with 10mm bolts or plastic screws. Sometimes, you have a combination of screws and plastic retainers.
Please remove all of them to drop the cover and access the oil pan.
Place Drain Pan Under Engine. Before you remove the oil drain plug, slide an oil drain pan under the oil bolt.
Remove the oil drain plug. Loosen the oil drain bolt by turning it counterclockwise. If removing the oil drain bolt is extremely difficult, 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 will 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.
Change Drain Plug Washer. Inspect your oil drain plug; it should have a copper washer. It needs to be replaced with a new one. Pull out the old washer and install the new washer.
Install Drain Plug. Install the drain plug. Screw it by hand initially to avoid cross-threading. Use a torque wrench to tighten the drain plug. Do not use a breaker bar to tighten the drain plug. Tighten the drain plug as recommended by your manufacturer. The recommended torque should be in your owner’s manual. If it is not, call your dealer to get the correct value.
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. It is recommended to pre-oil your new filter and avoid the engine running dry at startup. Place a little bit of oil in the gasket. This will make it easy to remove the oil filter at your following oil change and avoid oil leaks. Thread the new oil filter. The new oil filter should go in very quickly. Please don’t force the filter; it should go on very quickly. The oil filter may be located on top of the engine on certain vehicles such as BMW, Mercedes, Dodge, and Chrysler.
Add the Recommended Quantity of Engine Oil. Next, you 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 need to add before adding oil to the engine.
Check Oil Level via Dipstick. 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.
What type of engine oil do I need?
The easiest way to find out what oil your car uses is to look at the oil cap or owner’s manual. 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 see the recommended oil type, the standards the oil should meet, and the quantity of oil needed. API oil specifications requirements are also printed on the bottle. Ensure that you get the correct oil quantity as stated in your owner’s manual.
You can choose between synthetic and conventional motor oil. We would recommend synthetic oil over conventional oil. If you decide to use full synthetic motor oil, you can go longer between oil changes. If you use conventional oil, change the oil every three thousand miles.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Should I change the engine to hot or cold?
- There is a lot of discussion on 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. You don’t need to worry about a minimal amount: let the engine sit overnight if you want to get as much of the old oil out. 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.
- How much does it cost to change the oil?
- An oil change can range 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 in 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 an oil change.
- How often should I change engine oil?
- Conventional Oil – Every 3,000 miles
- Synthetic Blend – Every 5,000 miles
- Synthetic Oil – Every 7500-10,000 miles (verify owner’s manual)
- Can I change the engine oil at home?
- Yes, you can. Follow this 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.
- Can I change engine oil once a year?
- While the oil age can play a factor in 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.
- Can I change the engine oil but not filter?
- 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 this case, the oil may bypass the oil filter altogether, which is a situation you don’t want as you may shorten the engine’s life.
- Is it necessary to change engine oil every year?
- 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, the national average in the 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, five times per year. How do you know if you need conventional oil or synthetic? Look it up on your owner’s manual. Look at the bottle of oil you purchase; it will say conventional or synthetic. It’s ok to switch to synthetic oil. Most modern cars use synthetic oil.
- What is the recommended frequency to change engine oil?
- Everyone makes different oil change interval recommendations varying from 3,000 to 10,000 miles. Here is the general rule: Change the engine oil every 3,000 miles if using a conventional oil type. When using synthetic oil, change it every 7,500 miles, and you will be safe. Use a quality oil filter when going for extended oil change intervals.
- Should I change the engine oil before or after storage?
- Change the engine oil after storage. Oil can lose its lubricating properties when sitting for an extended period. Change the engine oil if your car has been sitting for a long time.
- What happens if I don’t change the oil?
- 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.
- How much oil do I need to add?
- Check on your owner’s manual. Every car has a different capacity. There is no correlation between the number of cylinders and oil capacity. Some six-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.
We hope you find the 10 Easy Steps to Change Engine Oil Yourself guide helpful. Check these troubleshooting and repair guides for more help on your vehicle.