Oil Changing 101

One of the first things I learned to do car wise was how to change my own motor oil.  After the first time I realized just how easy it was.  I also gained a feeling of satisfaction knowing that I did it myself and that I took care of my car on my own.  I want you all to know just how easy this is before you head to Jiffy Lube to have them do something you can do yourself in less than an hour.  These instructions and pictures are general instructions – certain bits and pieces will be specific to specific cars (i.e. I know for a fact that Jeep 4.0L motors have the oil filter a different way than in my pics… anyway…)  For this you’ll need fresh oil (find out what your car should use), fresh oil filter (ditto), oil catch can, jackstand / ramps, safety glasses, old newspapers and blocks for the rear tires.

The first step is to jack the car up.  As with most of the car info posts I’ll be using my 2004 Subaru Forester as my  lovely assistant.  You have two choices to jack the car up: ramps or jack stands.  I like to use ramps for as much as I can car wise.  I prefer the ramp to having the car suspended on jackstands.  No matter if I’m using ramps or stands I always make sure I block the rear wheels to prevent the car from rolling/falling off with me under it.  Do not – I repeat do not ever work under a car when it’s supported only by the jack that comes with your car. That’s for emergency road side use only… and even then never get under the car!!

Once the car is jacked up and secure, prep under the car.  Lay out some old newspapers or even some sheets of cardboard under the oil  pan.  No  matter how good you are or how many times you do this… oil will splatter everywhere.  On top of the newspaper put some sort of container to collect the old oil.  Keep in mind somewhere around four quarts of oil will probably be coming out.  Also, the wider the mouth, the better.  In the pic of the underside you can see the oil receptacle I use as well as how I have the rear tires blocked.

Try to get the oil container below where the oil will shoot out.  Yes, this will be a trial and error process… but it’s also a lot of common sense.  Locate the oil drain plug and you’ll figure it out.  Loosen the drain plug with a ratchet or wrench (it may be on there TIGHT if done by Jiffy Lube, etc last).  I  like to only crack the plug loose with the ratchet and then undo it the rest of the way with my hand so I don’t lose it.  As soon as the plug is free it will fall in front of a gush of oil and can be lost if not loosened by hand at the end.  Also, while I wear Mechanix gloves a lot, I take them off for this part since they’re useless when doused in oil.  Once the plug is out, you can take off the oil filler cap, too to make sure the oil flows out.

Once the oil slows to a slow drip out of the drain plug hole, it’s time to take the oil filter out.  Again if you went to Jiffy Lube last this could be on pretty tight.  First, put the drain plug back in its home (using a crush washer if your OEM recommends it).  Oil will come out when the oil filter is taken off – but not nearly as much as what was in the oil pan.  There are special tools that you can use to take off your oil filter.  I’d take a look at what size yours is and then take a peak at what your local auto parts store sells.  I chose one that attaches to my ratchet.

The home stretch is front of us now.   Clean off the spot where the old filter was with a clean rag to get rid of any nasties.  Now it’s time to start putting some fresh clean oil into your bad ride.  Make sure the new filter you got is the same as the one you took off the car.  After that,  fill up the new filter with new oil.  You’ll have to put a small amount in at a time as it needs to be absorbed by the filter.  Once the filter is full of oil, dip your finger in the oil and get some oil on the rubber gasket on the top of the filter (as shown in the pic).  Be careful when putting the new filter back on that you don’t spill any on yourself. (Though to be honest, I’ve tasted fresh Mobil1 and it’s not as bad as you’d think… anyway…)

Once the new filter is on snug, and your drain plug is on snug, there’s only one big step left.  Of course, that’s to pour in the fresh oil. Your owner’s manual or the internet should be able to tell you how much oil your car needs.  Be careful not to add too much or too little.  I highly recommend using a funnel to pour the new oil in – it’ll make things much, much easier for you.  After the new oil is in, put the valve cap back on and take the blocks out from the back wheels and start up the car.  Back it off the ramps and let it run for a bit and check for leaks.  No leaks?  Good job, you just changed your oil!  Leaks?  Tighten that shit up!  After a couple days of driving, I like to check the oil level to make sure there weren’t any leaks that I just didn’t see.

That’s it!



~ by NJC on March 20, 2011.

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