Auto dealers and repair shops recommend changing oil in a car the sooner of every three months or 3,000 miles. However, experts tell us to follow the recommended service intervals in the manual provided by the automaker. Whatever rule is followed, the oil will eventually need to be changed and learning how to do it saves time and money.
It will take a first-timer about one hour to change the car oil. After that, the process becomes easier and faster, taking an average of 30 minutes. Refer to the vehicle manual to determine the correct oil filter and oil to purchase.
Step 1: Warm the engine for two to three minutes and then shut it off. Jack the car up or use ramps to elevate the car. Locate the drain plug at the bottom of the engine under the oil pan.
Step 2: Place a container under the oil drain plug to catch the oil. Wrap a rag around the drain plug and unscrew it with a wrench, then let oil drain into the container. Once all oil has drained, locate the top of the engine and remove the cap that seals the oil filler hole. Use a wrench to twist the oil filter counterclockwise, unscrewing it. Remove the filter carefully and empty its oil into the container.
Step 3: If present, remove rubber seal remnants of the filter. Wrap the filter in newspaper to prepare it for recycling. Open the new container of oil, dip your finger in, and moisten the gasket on the new oil filter. Screw the new oil filter into the correct spot on top of the engine, turning gently to seat it and then turning an additional three-quarters of the way.
Step 4: Go under the car to the oil drain plug and wipe around this area. If the plug features a gasket, replace it and then reattach the plug, tightening it with an adjustable wrench. Go back to the oil filler hole and use a funnel to slowly add fresh oil, reserving one quart. Reattach the oil filler cap and turn the car on for 30 to 60 seconds to check for leaks around the filter and oil drain plug.
Step 5: Turn off the car, wait ten minutes so the oil can settle, then check the oil level with the dipstick. Add oil and measure the level repeatedly until the Full line is reached. Remove the container from under the engine and test drive the car. Turn off the engine, wait ten minutes, and recheck the oil level to ensure that it still reads Full.
*Photo Courtesy of Jesse Wagstaff via Creative Commons License