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Do-It-Yourself Projects
Changing Your Car’s Motor Oil and Oil Filter
By Bernard Juchli from Jay Leno's Big Dog Garage
Printable version
Degree of DifficultyModerate
Moderate
Estimated Time60 minutes
60 minutes
The Proper Steps to Get Your Car Running Smoothly Again -
 
One of the most important things you can do to keep your car in the best condition possible is changing your vehicle’s motor oil and filter. Oil in a car is like blood in our bodies – it flows throughout the car’s engine and keeps everything running smoothly. Frequent oil and filter changes are essential in increasing the life of your car and its performance.
When it comes time for that needed motor oil change (consult your owner’s manual for mileage intervals), you have options: you can take it to a service station, quick lube or car dealer, or you can do it yourself. While mechanics and other car maintenance people do a fine job with this routine procedure, changing your own oil is relatively easy and inexpensive. This simple guide and accompanying video will show you how to properly change the motor oil and filter of one of your most expensive and valuable possessions.
Equipment
Before you open the hood and tackle this task, make sure you have all the necessary supplies and equipment. Here’s what you’ll need:
Supplies Needed for a Motor Oil and Oil Filter Change
  • The proper amount and grade of motor oil. Make sure to check your owner’s manual for the correct viscosity and the number of quarts you’ll need. If you haven’t already, consider switching from conventional to synthetic motor oil such as Mobil 1 -- this will provide you with improved engine efficiency and performance.
  • A high-quality oil filter -- see your owner’s manual for requirements
  • A socket wrench
  • An oil filter wrench
  • A funnel
  • Something to catch the old motor oil, such as an oil pan, or bucket
  • Newspapers
  • Rags
Drain the Old Motor Oil
Before draining the motor oil, start your car and let it run for a minute or two, or take it for a quick drive around the block; this will warm up the motor oil and allow it to drain out smoothly. Next, be sure you have a safe area to do your oil change – a driveway or garage will work well, and level ground is a must.
Under the vehicle, locate the oil pan and drain plug.        
Locate the Oil Pan and Drain Plug
If there isn’t enough room to slide under the car to do this, you may have to jack up the car to get beneath it. Remember: never get underneath a car supported only by a jack; always use a jack stand.
Jack up the Car if Necessary to Get Underneath
Once you identify the drain plug, spread the newspaper out and place the oil pan below. Loosen the drain plug with the socket wrench, turning it counterclockwise.
Loosen the Drain Plug with a Socket Wrench
After loosening, remove the plug slowly by hand and let the motor oil drain out. Caution: the motor oil may be hot. Once the oil stream slows down to a drip, reinstall the drain plug by hand and tighten it with a quarter turn clockwise with the wrench.
Slowly Remove the Drain Plug and Let the Motor Oil Flow Out
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