How to Survive Your First Oil Change

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Written by:  ridestory
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How often do you stop and think, “When was the last time I changed my car’s oil?” If it’s something you're worried about, it’s probably overdue. Old oil is hard on your car’s engine and can lead to its early grave. Not good on your pocket either, especially when a DIY oil change should cost you around £30.  More importantly, are you willing to take matters into your own hands and do it yourself? By changing the oil yourself, you’re confident in knowing it’s getting done right. 
As you’ll see from this Guide, as long as you’re willing to get your hands a little dirty, changing the oil in your car is very simple. Do it a couple of times, you’ll get better at it as well as faster. And you may learn a few things about your car in the process.

Get to know your car

Before we begin, let’s locate a few things on your car first. Underneath your car, you’ll need to find the oil drain plug and the location of the oil filter. Up on top, locate where the oil fill cap is and the dip stick. Your car’s owner’s manual may point out the location of these things for you. Otherwise, just look around. Make sure you have what you need before you begin.
Motor oil
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Motor oil

Before you begin

Socket wrench
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Socket wrench

Oil filter
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Oil filter

Oil filter wrench
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Oil filter wrench

  • Oil filter wrench (optional). These will vary in size so make sure the one you purchase fits the filter for your car.
Jack stands and tyre chocks
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Jack stands and tyre chocks
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Jack stands and tyre chocks

  • If you need to jack your car up to change the oil, jack stands are a good idea to help hold your car up while you are underneath. Also, chock your tyres before lifting the car to help keep it from rolling off the jack.
Oil drain pan
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Oil drain pan

  • An oil pan to catch the oil when you’re draining it from your car.
Funnel
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Funnel

  • funnel to pour in the new oil.
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The oil drain plug is located on the underside of the engine.
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The oil drain plug is located on the underside of the engine.

Oil drain plug

The oil drain plug is located at the bottom of the engine’s oil pan. The oil pan is where the oil resides when the engine is not running. Think of it as on-board storage. It’s usually an oblong, smooth housing on the bottom of the engine.
The oil filter location will vary. This one is located near the drain plug.
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The oil filter location will vary. This one is located near the drain plug.

Where is the oil filter?

Next, locate the oil filter. Every manufacturer is different and the filter can be anywhere.
The oil filler cap and dip stick.
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The oil filler cap and dip stick.

Oil filler cap and dip stick

Both the oil fill cap and dipstick should be easily found on top of the engine and should be close to each other. Manufacturers have gotten smart in recent years and colour coded the dip stick handle. I do want to take a moment and point out the obvious. Never start your car’s engine without any oil. It will quickly fail and the only option for repair is a new or rebuilt engine. 

Now that we’ve got everything squared away, let’s get started.
Drain the engine oil into an oil pan.
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Drain the engine oil into an oil pan.

Step 1: Drain the engine oil.

Using the correct wrench, remove the drain plug. Have a drain pan ready to catch the oil. Take a moment and wipe away any dirt or old oil from the drain plug opening. You don’t need to push dirt into your oil pan when you reinstall the drain plug. Clean up the drain plug as well. Do a quick inspection and made sure the threads on the drain plug are in good condition. Once all of the oil has drained, reinstall the drain plug immediately. That way, you won't forget.
Oil filter removed.
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Oil filter removed.

Step 2: Remove the old oil filter.

The old oil filter can be a little tricky to remove. First, wipe any dirt and grime off the filter. Then clean off any oil that may be on your hands. With everything clean, you may be able to just unscrew the old filter and remove it my hand. If not, you’ve got the filter wrench ready. Again, be prepared with the drain pan. There will be oil in the filter. Simply hold the filter over the drain pan until it’s empty.
Unpack the new oil filter, coat the gasket with new oil, fill the filter with new oil and install it.
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Unpack the new oil filter, coat the gasket with new oil, fill the filter with new oil and install it.
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Unpack the new oil filter, coat the gasket with new oil, fill the filter with new oil and install it.
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Unpack the new oil filter, coat the gasket with new oil, fill the filter with new oil and install it.
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Unpack the new oil filter, coat the gasket with new oil, fill the filter with new oil and install it.

Step 3: Install the new oil filter.

The new oil filter is easily installed by hand. But one quick tip. Open one of the new bottles of oil, dip a finger in and coat the rubber gasket on the new oil filter with a layer of oil. Then gently thread the new filter on, turning it by hand until you feel the rubber gasket touch the engine block. Then, depending on the oil filter manufacturer, you may need to give the filter as much as full turn. But check the directions for the oil filter you are using.
Fill the engine with new oil.
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Fill the engine with new oil.

Step 4: Fill the engine with new oil.

Remove the oil fill cap and with the help of a funnel, add new oil to the engine. Only fill with the amount recommended by your manufacturer. Again, this information can usually be found in your owner’s manual. 
Once filled, replace the cap, making sure it’s tight. 

Take a moment, run the engine for a few minutes to warm it up and look for leaks. If everything was done correctly, this shouldn’t be a problem. Then turn the engine off. Again, give it a few minutes but this time you’re waiting for the oil to drain back into the oil pan. Then check the dip stick. The oil level should be approximately in the middle, somewhere between the ‘low’ and ‘full’ marks. Again, manufacturers will vary so check your manual.

Dispose the old oil responsibly

And finally, dispose of the used oil properly. No need to create your own environmental accident by haphazardly dumping the oil in the bin or the sewer. Save a couple of empty milk jugs and using your funnel, transfer the used oil from the drain pan to the jugs. Then contact a local auto parts store. They are usually happy to take the oil off your hands. 

Not too bad, right? And you didn’t have to make an appointment at your dealer or wait your turn at the service station.
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Written by:  ridestory
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