Replacing your oil can be your own toil

By Gaby Gonzales


Changing your vehicle’s oil can seem like a challenge, especially to those that have never done anything automechanical in their lives.

Let’s just say it is one of the easiest tasks that you, yourself can possibly do.

For starters, if you have no idea what kind of oil your vehicle uses, open up the hood and it says it directly on the oil cap. (For example: 5W-20)

Now, for the oil filter. Since these differ on the make of the vehicle, just like the oil, you should ask someone in your local automotive store to look up the filter number.  After you have the correct filter, get as many quarts of oil necessary (again, ask your local automotive store for the number of quarts), be sure to have a funnel handy as well as an oil filter wrench, something to catch the oil – for example: an oil pan or bucket — and a couple of dirty rags.

First, you want your vehicle’s engine to be nice and warm, so take it around the block a few times. The warmer the engine, the easier it will be to drain all the oil. After you have heated up the engine, make sure to pick a flat surface to lift your vehicle. Next, turn off the engine. Then, look for the oil drain plug. The drain plug looks just like a large nut. (On some vehicles it actually says “drain plug”) Now grab your socket wrench and find the socket that matches the size of the nut. Start turning the socket wrench counterclockwise; remember to take the drain plug off slowly.

Now locate the oil filter, it will be upside down, grab the drain pan and place it directly under the drain plug. Once the plug is loosened, place it to the side. Oil does not take long to drain, it should only last maybe two to three minutes. Next, you will grab the oil filter wrench (it looks like a large circle, only rotates one direction). Place it over the oil filter and give it a little pull. Once you feel it become loose, take the wrench off and loosen the rest by hand. Again, do not remove the filter too fast. It does contain hot oil and you do not want that to spill anywhere on you. Once the filter is removed, place it off to the side. Then, allow the remaining fluid to drip into the oil pan.

Before installing the new oil filter, dip your finger into the old oil and coat the rubber gasket on the new filter and place it to the side. Remember to take your rag and clean the area where the old oil filter was before placing on the new. Now you can begin placing the new filter (you can do this by hand). Then place the drain plug back into position, and tighten it with your socket wrench.

You are almost done!

Now, get out from underneath the vehicle and grab your funnel. Remove the oil cap and place the funnel there. Start filling in the quarts of oil. Be sure to do this slowly. You don’t want any oil to drip out of the funnel onto your engine block. After you have refilled the necessary quarts of oil, put the oil cap back on and check the dipstick for the oil level. After that is complete, you can now close your hood.

Now, you are wondering where you put all the old oil and its filter. Well, pour the oil into an empty container and make sure it is closed tightly. You can also put the oil filter into a plastic bag. After you have done this, you can now take it to an oil-recycling center. (For example, Jiffy Lube)

After all that is complete, you are good to go. You have changed your oil successfully and have also disposed of the oil content properly.

Remember to change the oil in your vehicle every 3,000 miles or every three months. It is extremely important to keep a record of when it is time to change your oil because it can cause serious problems for your vehicle. Changing the oil yourself can save you at least half the cost than taking it to a mechanic. Some places, depending on the vehicle, will charge at least $40 or more for this simple service. Doing it yourself is extremely simple and it can be a lot of fun, knowing that you can actually do something to benefit your vehicle!

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Gaby Gonzales

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