How to change your oil

Learning how to change your oil is a liberating skill that will save you tonnes of money!

Learning how to change your oil is a liberating skill that will save you tonnes of money!

As convenient as it is to own a car, even the biggest enthusiast has to admit that it can be a bit of money pit at times. Insurance, fuel, maintenance, registration fees … the costs of having a vehicle can seem never ending at times.

Another one of those costs that might be putting pressure on your budget these days is the expense of having your oil changed. Like any other service, the overall price isn’t getting any cheaper over time, and when you do see an unbelievable deal, the technicians tend to do a poor job of it, causing that dreaded smoke to rise up from under the hood shortly after driving away.

It’s time you learned how to do it yourself so you can spare yourself the $30 some odd dollars you give these people every quarter (money that could be used for a nice dinner with your significant other), as well as learning a little about the machine that you rely on so heavily.

The following four steps will teach you how to change your oil for the very first time. With practice, you’ll be doing it like a pro in no time…!

Drain the oil

The first part of this is the most dangerous part of the whole process, so take your time, and if possible, have an experienced car person supervise you. Lift the car up off the ground using either a jack (set the parking brake first!) or a ramp, using jack stands (be sure to place them properly … refer to your car manual for more info) to brace it in the first case, or put blocks behind the rear wheels in the second case. If you use a ramp, always have a spotter to ensure that you aren’t in danger of driving off the edge by accident.

After this, let your car idle for a few minutes to warm the oil you are about to remove, then after turning off the vehicle, open the oil cap inside the engine compartment. Remove the oil pan from under your vehicle, and position beneath the oil plug (which should be warm to the touch). Use a wrench to remove the plug and let the old oil flow out until it stops (grab a beer, this will take a while…).

Replace the oil filter

Once the oil flow has stopped, it’s time to replace the oil filter. Get a clean rag so that you can get a good grip on the old filter, and after removing it from the engine compartment, take the new filter (go to your closest auto parts store before this day) and rim the gasket ring on it with the new oil you’re about to pour into your car. Slowly and deliberately screw the new filter in to ensure that you do not cross the threads, as it can lead to serious problems with your vehicle if you do.

Add new oil to your car

After putting the oil plug back on underneath the car, pour your new oil into the fill hole using a funnel. Check your user’s manual prior to this step to be certain of how much oil your car requires, and what kind it takes. If any oil spills on the crankcase, wipe it up prior to slamming the hood shut, as failing to do so will lead to that dreaded burning oil smell and smoke you’ve likely grown to hate from improperly done changes in the past.

Safely dispose of the waste oil

Finally, you have one last important task: what to do with the waste oil in the oil pan. Care must be taken to avoid damaging the environment, so be sure to store in a well-sealed container, and once full, take it to a garage or recycling center for proper disposal.

One last thing: after pouring your used oil in a container where it will be safe from leeching into the external environment, be sure to screw your oil pan back on the undercarriage of your car before bringing it down from its elevated position.

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