How to Change Your Engine Oil.

For todays’ topic I decided to go a different route and talk about how to change your engine oil in your vehicle. The vehicle I chose to be the Guinea pig on this how to was my truck, a 1969 Ford F100.

Always remember to look up the correct quantity of oil, the correct viscosity of oil required, and the correct oil filter for your car. This can be done anywhere you buy the oil and filter or in the owners manual for your car (information for the oil filter will not be found in the owners manual).

Firstly, lets discuss the items you will need for this task.

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What is Needed to Perform an Oil Change

For this task you will need a few items to get the job done. These items are in no particular order but are required.

  • Rags or rubber gloves
  • Funnel (for refilling the oil)
  • Wrench or socket set
  • Oil filter pliers
  • Oil drain pan
  • Car jack
  • Jack Stands
  • Creeper (or something to lay on the ground to get under your vehicle)
  • Parts cleaner (I have found that brake parts cleaner works the best)
  • Correct oil for your vehicle
  • Correct oil filter for your vehicle

Why you Need these Items to Perform an Oil Change

Rags (or shop rags) are needed to clean up your hands and vehicle after performing the oil change. Rubber gloves are just to keep your hands clean during the oil change.

As you perform work on your vehicle you should change out gloves to prevent any oil residue getting on any parts of the car.

A wrench or socket set is required to remove the oil drain plug from the oil pan. The oil drain pan is usually a plastic bucket to prevent oil from getting spilled on the ground.

Oil filters can be put on tight but because of the heat off the engine, they can get even tighter. Specific pliers called oil filter pliers can be used to remove the oil filter with ease.

Should your vehicle need to be jacked up for an oil change a Jack and jack stands are required to make changing the oil simpler. If your vehicle is high enough off the ground when performing the oil change, then the jack and jack stands are not required.

A creeper is a rolling platform that you can lay on to get under the vehicle. It is not required but it does help to get under your vehicle. Even if you don’t have a creeper a piece of cardboard will perform the same way.

Brake parts cleaner (or other kinds of cleaner) can be used to clean up any messes made on the vehicle (except paint) by simply spraying the mess off of the parts that needs to be cleaned.

The oil funnel can be used on more than just oil but it helps to keep from spilling the oil on the engine or exhaust of the car. If oil does spill you will want to use a rag or parts cleaner to clean up the mess before you start driving again.

Correct oil and oil filter are required to properly change the oil in your vehicle. Parts can be ordered can be ordered from anywhere that sells car parts. Information pertaining to the correct viscosity and type of oil used can be found in the owners manual for your specific vehicle or by going to a parts store.

Secondly, we will discuss briefly when you should change your oil.


When Should you Change your oil

As discussed in a previous blog, oil change intervals can differ from vehicle to vehicle. For most new vehicles the interval can be between 5,000 and 7,500 miles between oil changes.

Older vehicles should have an oil change done about every 3,000 miles or 3 months, whichever comes first.

The interval to change your oil at can also differ between the type of oil used. Conventional oil, high mileage oil, and full synthetic oil each have a different interval that should be taken into consideration for the vehicle that you are working on.

Thirdly, we will talk about the steps on how to change your engine oil.


How an Oil Change is Performed

The first thing you will want to do is to pop the hood of the car. Refer to your owners manual to locate the hood latch release lever because every vehicle is different, but it is usually located inside the cabin on the left of the drivers side under the steering wheel.

After the hood is popped and secured (some vehicles have a hood prop near the latch), start by removing the oil filler cap and placing it aside where it won’t be forgotten (the best place to put the cap is on the hood latch). Always remember to reinstall the oil filler cap after the oil change is done.

Once that is done position the oil drain pan under the vehicle. If the oil filter can be reached from the top of the vehicle position the pan under the filter and position the oil filter pliers around the oil filter and turn in a counter clockwise rotation.

Some vehicles will have a belly pan or skid plate under the engine to protect the engine.

Most vehicles will have the oil filter positioned under the vehicle. If your vehicle sits lower to the ground (i.e. a car or van) then you will need to jack up the vehicle to access the oil filter and oil drain plug.

Head to the side of your vehicle and locate the frame or body pinch weld (refer to your vehicles owners manual to determine the best jacking points). Positions the jack under the jacking point and begin jacking the front vehicle up by bringing the handle of the jack down towards the ground.

After the vehicle is jacked up position one of the jack stands to the side of the jack and slowly turn the handle of the jack to lower the vehicle onto the jack stands. Head to the other side and repeat so that both front tires are off the ground to give you room to crawl underneath the vehicle.

Draining the oil

If not done already, when under the vehicle locate the oil filter (usually in front of the engine) and remove with the oil filter pliers by turning in a counter clockwise rotation. Loosen and let the oil drain into the oil drain pan, After the filter has drained remove and match up the oil filters.

This step is performed for two reasons. One it helps to lubricate the new gasket to prevent it from getting stuck on the engine block, and two which ties into the first reason it insures the gasket has not stuck to the engine to prevent you from double gasketing and oil getting everywhere.

Install the new oil filter by tightening in a clockwise rotation. Tighten the filter after the gasket makes first contact with the engine one and three quarters of a turn to 2 full turns.

After the oil filter is installed and cleaned up with parts cleaner, locate the oil drain plug. This will be in different locations depending on the vehicle, but will always be on the bottom edge of the oil pan.

Once you have located the oil drain plug, find the correct wrench or socket needed for the drain plug. Each vehicle will have a different size oil drain plug. When you have the correct size wrench or socket and ratchet, loosen the oil drain plug by turning in a counter clockwise rotation.

Remove the drain plug by hand and let the oil drain into the oil drain pan. After the oil is drained reinstall the drain plug and tighten one quarter turn after it has been snugged against the engine and wipe or spray clean.

Carefully move the oil drain pan out from under the vehicle as it will be full of oil.

The Final Steps

When you are done under the vehicle use the jack to get the vehicle off the jack stands by repeating the process of jacking up the vehicle. Remove the jack stands and turn the handle of the jack to slowly lower the vehicle and repeat for the other side.

With the vehicle back on the ground place the oil funnel in the oil filler opening. Carefully pour the oil into the funnel so it doesn’t over flow. Refer to your owners manual for the correct quantity of oil to be used.

After you are done pouring the correct quantity of oil into the engine, remove the funnel and place it into a rag to prevent it from dripping oil on the car. Once you do that reinstall the oil filler cap.

With the cap back in place start the engine and let it run for about 10 seconds to ensure you have oil pressure.

Shut off the engine and pull the oil dipstick located off to the side of the engine or on top of the engine. With a rag wipe clean the oil dipstick and reinsert it back into the engine. Remove the dipstick again and check the oil level, it should be between the minimum and maximum lines on the dipstick.

Double check to make sure everything is back in place and close the hood. When closing the hood always remember to pull up after its closed to make sure it does not come open.


Final Thoughts

So in conclusion this article is to help you the driver on how to change the engine oil in your vehicle. Changing oil is not a hard service to perform yourself, in fact it only takes about thirty minutes to perform.

It may be hard at first but it doesn’t have to be. Always remember to refer to your owners manual for the information on where to locate your oil filler cap, oil dipstick, oil quantity, and the correct viscosity to use on your vehicle.

A parts house can also help with this information by looking at the vehicle. They can also help you identify the correct parts to use on your vehicle by looking up the vehicle in their computers.

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