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Pro Tips: How to Change Your Own Oil

You could easily take your car to the local mechanic for an oil change, but why not do it yourself? Here’s how to change your own oil.

The average oil change costs between $45 to $70 dollars. This can come out to over $100 a year, money that could be better spent elsewhere. Save your cash by learning how to change your own oil, the simple and easy way.

Not sure where to start? Read on for our step by step guide to changing your oil.

The Importance of Changing Your Oil

While you may know that it’s important to get your oil changed you may not be aware of the potential damage that can be caused by skipping it. One of the most important reasons to get regular oil changes is to maintain lubrication within your engine, a vital part of keeping it running smoothly.

In addition to engine lubrication, the oil with also helps keep various parts of your engine cool due to reduced friction. This is the long run will help you avoid overheating in the long run. The oil will reduce the chances of dirt or sludge getting stuck within your engine and can even increase gas mileage!

Overall, if you plan on having your vehicle running the way it should for years to come, an oil change needs to become a regular part of your car care routine

How Often You Should Change Your Oil

While changing your oil is an important component of vehicle care, you’ll want to be sure that you’re changing the oil often enough. Knowing how often you should change your oil will depend on the type of car you’re driving and how old it is.

As a general rule of thumb, you’ll find that most cars can go between 5,000-7,500 mile before needing its next oil change. However, you’ll need to take the quality of your oil into account as well. The higher the quality of oil you use, the longer you can go between oil changes.

How to Change Your Own Oil

While many drivers choose to bring their car into the mechanic for an oil change, the process can easily be completed by practically anyone. By gathering the right tools and materials and following the simple steps below, you’ll save money on your next oil change.

What You’ll Need

First, you’ll want to gather the necessary tools and materials. You don’t want to get stuck mid oil change after realizing you don’t have the necessary items. Fortunately, many of these items can be found online or at your local auto body shop.

Tools

When gathering your tools for an oil change, you may find that many of them are already waiting for you in your garage. If not, these items are easy to find and relatively affordable.

The tools you need for your oil change include:

  • Disposable latex gloves
  • An Oil Pan
  • An Oil Filter Wrench
  • A Box End or Socket Wrench (Depending on the Size of Your Drain Plug)
  • A Funnel
  • A Jack, Stands or a Ramp

It’s recommended to take some time to practice your tools before starting your oil change!

Materials

You’ll also find that you want to have the right materials on hand as well. Some materials you’ll need for your oil change includes:

  • A High-Quality Oil 
  • An Oil Filter
  • A Replacement Washer

If you’re not sure about which oil to use for your vehicle, we suggest taking the time to learn more about your options before buying.

How Much Oil Do You Need

When purchasing and changing your oil, you’ll need to know precisely how much oil will be needed for the car. This will depend on the type of vehicle you have and it’s engine size. However, you can easily find out how much oil will be needed by consulting your owner’s manual.

When shopping for oil, you’ll find that each bottle holds approximately a quart of oil, so you will want to buy accordingly. For example, a 2012 Ford Explorer will need roughly 5.7 quarts, so the car owner would want to purchase about 6 bottles of oil.

Preparing Your Vehicle

Before you dive into changing your oil, you’ll want to make sure that your car is prepared. Be sure that the exhaust system is cooled off, but not cold. You’ll also need to slightly raise your car to do that job, this is where you will want to use your safety stands.

Depending on the car you may also find that you need to take off your tires prior to beginning, however, this typically isn’t the case.

Step 1: Locate Oil Filter

You will begin your oil change by locating your oil filter and your drain plug. While this will vary from car to car, in most cases the oil will be found in a bottom-mount screw on filter. Once you’ve located where your oil filter is located, we suggest repositioning your oil pan, chances are things are going to get messy.

Step 2: Drain the Oil

Next, you’ll want to drain any remaining oil that may be in the filter. Place your drain pan under the plug and use your wrench to carefully unscrew the filler cap. In some cases, this can be done by hand, in either case, make sure you have your gloves on.

From here, you should be able to remove your drain plug using your wrench, being sure to move slowly, to avoid the mess.

Step 3: Tighten Plug

Once you’ve removed the drain plug, inspect it for any cracks and give it a good clean. You’ll want to then return it to the filter and carefully tighten the plug into place.

Step 4: Change the Oil Filter

From here, remove your oil filter by gently loosening it, this can be done by hand. Move your filter to your pan and allow it to fully drain. Once it’s empty, use a dry rag to clear out any remaining oil.

Install your new filter by carefully spinning it on and tightening it about three-quarters of the way.

Step 5: Replace the Oil

Finally, you can carefully pour in the new oil, according to the amount found in your owners manual. Wrap up the job by putting the oil cap back on and turning on your engine.

You’ll want to allow the engine to run for approximately 30 seconds, so the new oil is able to circulate.

Giving Your Car What it Needs

Knowing how to change your own oil is not only more affordable, it’s also incredibly liberating. Imagine taking memorable drives down some of the most historic roads in the world, without having to worry about finding a mechanic.

If you have a passion for taking care of your vehicle and learning about all the incredible feats vehicles have made in the past, check out other car facts on our page.

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