Car Maintenance & DIY

Don’t Change Your Oil Before Reading This

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Car mechanic loosen oil filter

Image: NUTTANART KHAMLAKSANA/Shutterstock

Changing the oil in your car is a sure way of ensuring that your car stands the test of time and runs well. Car oil breaks down and over time, the filter may become clogged with contaminants. This process can take 3-24 months depending on the type of your vehicle as well as your driving habits. Luckily, changing car oil is both inexpensive and easy. You should always try to change your oil as soon as your car needs it to prevent loss in fuel economy or damage to your engine. Below are some things that you should know before changing your own oil to make the process hassle-free. 

Run Your Engine

Why run your engine? Warm oil drains faster than cold oil. Draining warm oil ensures all the old is drained out of your engine block. You need to run your engine for a while, or just take your car around the block. This prevents the engine from attaining full operation temperature which can make the oil too hot to drain. Park your car on a level surface and engage the parking brake. 

Know the Plug Location

Place the oil pan below the oil drain plug. Although the oil drain plug is usually located at the bottom of the oil pan underneath your car, you can check your car service manual to confirm this. Remember that the oil flows in a specific angle into the pan. Use a socket wrench to loosen the plug, but don’t remove it completely to prevent oil from spilling all over the place. 

You need to go back to your service manual again to find out where the filler cap is located. You will remove the cap to make the draining process much faster since air might enter from the top.

After You Finish Draining

Replace and tighten the oil plug using your hands, and as always, turn right to tighten. Make sure the threads aren’t crossing each other and secure it with a wrench. You can use a new drain plug gasket if it is indicated in the manufacturer’s manual.

The Oil Filter

Remove the existing oil filter before you proceed. The filter looks a bit like a drum, and is usually easy to see. A relatively new filter will have a distinct color, such as white, blue, or even orange depending on the brand. The old oil filter may be having some hot oil even after all the oil is drained. Position the oil pan below the oil plug filter and use your filter-wrench carefully to pull out the filter. Clean the mounting surface on the engine with a clean rag to remove the old oil.

Lubricate the new filter and screw it in. Check if the seal is sitting properly on the filter before proceeding to tighten it. It is not necessary to tighten the filter completely using the filter-wrench but you can always confirm from your manual. Refill the engine with specified oil in the manual using a clean funnel. 

Checking for Leaks

Run the engine and check for leaks near the oil filter and drain plug. If there no leaks, shut the engine and leave it to rest for about three minutes to allow it to regain the normal oil pressure. 

Changing your oil regularly will often save you from inconveniences such as breakdowns. Depending on your driving habits and your engine technology, you can schedule the length of the duration after which you should change your own oil. The process is easy and with the above tips, you will be in a position to change your own oil successfully without experiencing any problem.

Jeremiah can change your oil, fix your computer and quote every line from the Star Wars films, like the Renaissance Man that he is. He's the proud parent of two Great Danes and one daughter.