How to Change the Oil in Your Car

One of the easiest ways to save yourself some money throughout the course of the year is to learn how to perform basic maintenance on your assets around the house. One of the biggest expenses around the house for many people is the upkeep on their automobile. This is because looking under the hood of a car can be intimidating for someone who doesn’t have a background in car mechanics. However, you don’t have to be a car mechanic to learn basic maintenance.

Learning to change your own oil can save you $25-$50 per oil change, which adds up over time. This do-it-yourself job requires few tools, and the process doesn’t take long once you figure out what needs to be done. You can expect to spend around an hour, or a little more, your first time and about half an hour once you understand the process.

How to Change the Oil in Your Car

Tools You Will Need

As was previously mentioned, there are just a few tools that you will need to change your oil. You will likely have most of them in your garage, but you can go to the local auto store for the ones that you do not already have. You will need:


  • Funnel


  • Wrench to remove drain plug


  • Old rag for cleaning


  • Latex gloves (optional)


  • Jack and jack stands


  • Oil filter wrench


You Will Also Need


  • Oil filter


  • Oil


  • Replacement drain plug washer


Let’s Get Started

Before you even touch the hood of your car, you will need to open up the manual to your car to find out the type and amount of oil that you will need. It’s better to buy a little too much oil than it is to not buy enough.

After determining how much oil you will need, you will then need to determine what type of oil your car takes. Make sure that if your car calls for 5W-30, you do not buy 5W-20. Your owner’s manual will tell you the type of oil you will need and any other specifications that your car may require.

Once You’re Ready

Now that you have the tools and materials necessary to begin you journey, it’s time to get your hands dirty. The first step is to make sure that the engine and oil are both warm, but not hot. Run the engine for a bit, and then let the engine cool for a couple minutes before getting started.

Once the engine is warm, you may now raise your car with your jack if you need to. Some newer cars may have a cover underneath the car, so you will need to remove this cover to access your drain plug and filter. You will also want to remove the oil cap on the top of the engine to allow air to flow through when the oil is draining.

After the car is raised and the cover is removed, you may continue on to find your oil plug. The oil plug will look like a bolt, which is where the oil will drain from. You will want to place your pan directly underneath this plug to catch the oil when it drains. The plug can be removed by turning the bolt counter-clockwise with a proper sized socket. Allow the oil to finish draining completely before moving on to work with the filter.

When the oil is finished draining, you will then screw the plug back into the car. While screwing the plug back into the car, you will want to look around for the filter since that is what you will be replacing next. Looking at the replacement filter you purchased from the store will help you to locate the filter underneath your car. Once you find the filter, you will then unscrew the filter in a counter-clockwise motion. It may be a bit tricky to get at first, but using a strong and controlled twist will eventually get it loose. It’s important to ensure that the rubber ring around the top of the filter comes off along with the filter.

Now, dip your finger in some oil, and rub that oil around the gasket of your new filter to provide lubrication. The new filter is now ready to be installed. Read the directions on the filter to find out how much it needs to be tightened. Make sure not to tighten it too much, or you run the risk of ruining the filter.

You’re almost there. The next step is to add the new oil to your car through the fill hole on the top of the engine. Reference your owner’s manual one more time to ensure that you are adding the proper amount of oil. This is where your funnel will come in handy. Spilling oil on your engine will make it dirty and difficult to work with in the future, so it is important to clean up any spillage right away. Replace the fill cap, and then run your engine to get the new oil circulating.

The final step in this process is to clean up the mess that you made in your work area. The old oil in your pan should be transferred to a sealable container. You can always use the container that your new oil was in for this purpose. Check with your city to determine the best way for you to dispose of this oil, and then check with your local auto shop to see where the best place would be to take your used oil filter.

Once you are all cleaned up, you are set to go.