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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
Estimated Time60 minutes
60 minutes
Replace the Oil Filter
Keep the oil drain pan underneath the car and locate the oil filter.
Locate the Oil Filter
Loosen it with the filter wrench, turning it counterclockwise. Remove the oil filter by hand.
Loosen the Oil Filter with a Filter Wrench
Before installing the new oil filter, apply a little motor oil to the new gasket. This will prevent the gasket from sticking, cracking, or causing an oil leak.
Apply Some Motor Oil to the Oil Filter Gasket
Finally, install and tighten the new oil filter by hand.     
Tighten the New Oil Filter by Hand
Add the New Motor Oil
It’s now time to fill the engine with new motor oil. The motor oil you use should be the recommended grade and amount as identified earlier in the owner’s manual.
Loosen the oil-filler cap and pour your motor oil into the tank. Using a funnel will help you avoid spilling.  When finished, replace the oil cap and wipe away any spilled motor oil. Start your engine, and run it for a minute to allow the new motor oil to circulate thoroughly.
Pour Your Motor Oil into the Tank Using a Funnel
You’re almost done. But don’t drive off yet, because you need to check the oil level. To do this, turn off the car and remove and clean the dipstick.
Remove and Clean the Dipstick
Insert and remove it once more, this time checking that the oil has the correct reading. Screw the cap back on and give yourself a pat on the back.
Check the Dipstick to See if the Oil Level is Correct
Clean Up and Recycle Your Motor Oil
You’ve completed the task; now it’s time to clean up. Pour the old motor oil from the pan into a used oil container -- or if you have to, an empty milk jug -- and place the old oil filter in a plastic bag.
Pour the Old Motor Oil from the Pan into a Used Oil Container
The best way to dispose of motor oil is to recycle it. This is easy to do because many service stations and quick lubes will accept used motor oil and used oil filters at no charge. You can find recycling locations in your area at Also, if you ask your local government or recycling coordinator, they’ll be able to tell you if your oil filter and oil can be recycled with your trash pickup.
Finally, throw the newspaper and dirty rags away. You and your set of wheels are good to go.
Write down the date you performed the oil change and the amount of miles the car had so you know when your next change is due. Don’t forget to change your motor oil on a regular basis.
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