How to change the oil in your car


Apr 15th, 2019

How to change the oil in your car

Engine oil grows old with usage and requires changing after covering the given mileage to keep the car running optimally. After miles of usages the oil is eventually oxidized, and thick with debris to an extent it cannot lubricate the engine anymore. Such old oil lowers the performance of a vehicle, the fuel economy of a car and ultimately damages the engine. Thus it is essential to change the expired engine oil. You can have the car experts change the engine oil for you, or you can do it on your own and save a coin as it is a relatively straightforward exercise.


How often should you change the oil and filter?

Experts recommend that car engine oil be changed as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Every vehicle is unique in its way. This information, among other details regarding a car, is available in the vehicle manual provided by the manufacturer. Alternatively, you can check your vehicle maintenance schedule as it indicates the next engine oil change.


Step By Step On How To Change The Oil In Your Car

1.    Jack The Car Up

Move your car to level ground with sufficient working area. Switch your vehicle on and allow it to stay idle for about 10 minutes to warm up the oil. Take caution when draining hot oil. Put your car in park mode and activate the parking brake before you exiting. Restrain all tires that will remain in contact with the ground with wheel blocks. Locate your vehicle's jacking points and place your jack stand appropriately. If you do not know where to find the jacking point, refer to the vehicle's manual. Jack the car up and this must be done on one side. If your car was in operation for long, allow it to rest for about 10 minutes to cool down as the engine, and the exhaust will be too hot to handle. 


2.    Drain the Oil

Set the pan (drain pan) for recovering the old oil under the engine of the vehicle precisely below the old engine oil drain plug. The oil pan is located under your car. It is a metal pan that is flat and in closer proximity to your vehicle's engine. Alternatively, you can use any other container wide enough to avoid oil spillage.

You can now proceed to locate the old oil drain plug and be careful not to confuse it with the transmission oil plug. The engine oil drain plug is close to the exhaust connection to the engine. Unscrew the oil drain plug in an anti-clockwise direction using the right tool and collet the old oil into the drain pan. Protect your hands with gloves or a rag from being soiled. It takes several minutes for the oil drain out completely, so be patient.

When the oil no longer runs from the crankcase, you should replace the oil drain plug and the washer if they are worn out. If the drain plug and metallic washer are worn-out, replace with new ones, and if in good condition, clean and tightly screw them back. 


3.    Replace the Oil Filter

You also need to replace the old oil filter with a new one when changing the engine oil. Locate the oil filter assembly in your vehicle - the oil filter assemblies are located in different positions in different car models. The new replacement filter can give you a clue of what to look for exactly. Filter cylinders measure about 4 inches to 6 inches in length with a width of 3 inches. There are vehicles which come with filter elements or cartridges in place of the regular pin-on filter. In that case, you will find a built-in reservoir that contains the filter element.


Once you have found the oil filter housing, unscrew it. You can extract it by hand or use a tool if too tight to unscrew by hand. Carefully remove the filter as it also contains a significant amount of oil. Avoid spilling the old oil back into the engine or soiling the engine. A plastic bag can be wrapped around the filter to avoid spilling too much engine-oil while taking out the filter.

After removing the old oil filter take little of the new replacement oil with your fingertips and smear the gasket ring of the new oil filter. Oiling the gasket ring helps enhance the gasket lubrication, enables the new filter to seal tightly and makes replacement of the filter in the next oil change easy.

Fit the filter into the filter assembling unit. Pour little of the new oil into the filter in the assembly to shorten the time it takes the vehicle to build the right oil pressure. If your filter-housing is vertically mounted, you can even fill it with the oil to the brim if possible. For the filters mounted at an angle, this is not advisable as the engine oil will spill out. 

Screw the new filter back on carefully to avoid damaging the filter or screwing it sideways. The instructions on how tight to screw the filter are readily available on the filter of the filter-box. 


4.    Add New Oil

You can now proceed to refill the engine with the new oil. Ensure you use the right engine-oil, and you have the right amount as recommended in the vehicle manufacturer's manual. If you are not sure of anything, you should consult an expert or read the manual before you add any oil. Add the oil through the vehicle's oil fill hole. For the oil to pour smoothly without any bubbles, hold the bottle such that the spout remains on top. 


The dipstick is not always reliable in getting correct measurements, especially when your engine has been running. For the stick to give you an accurate reading, carry out checks very early in the morning. Your vehicle should be on level ground, cold and stable.

 Once you are done adding the oil close the oil cap tightly. If any oil had spilled on the engine, wipe it all. Although the spilled oil may pose no danger to the engine, it may produce smoke as the engine heats up or resulting in an unpleasant burnt oil smell. Remove all the tools that were in use. Carefully inspect if there is an oil leak on the engine and beneath the vehicle.

Once you are comfortable the engine is okay jack down the vehicle, remove the jack and start the engine. Let the car idle for a few minutes to give it time to build the oil pressure as you re-inspect for any oil leaks. Check if the oil light on the dashboard goes off when the engine run if it doesn't read your car manual on how to reset the dashboard warning. Some vehicle model requires one to reset the sensor physically. For example, some cars require that you turn them off after which you turn the vehicle's ignition on. Then, go ahead to pump the vehicle's gas pedal about three times within 10 seconds. As soon as you restart the car, you will find out that the warning light is gone.

It is also essential to check your oil level using the dipstick. To get the correct reading, turn off your vehicle and let it rest for at least 10 minutes to allow the oil to settle. 


5.    Dispose of the oil and the oil filter appropriately

The used old oil and the oil filter should be disposed of appropriately; if possible, taken back for recycling. There are several used oil and oil filter recycling centres in the country which can take up the oil for recycling. Put the used oil without spilling into a well-labelled container to avoid any confusion. Used engine oil is a dense environment pollutant and should be disposed of appropriately.