The Oil Change - Why, when,where, what

I am here to tell you that an oil change is fun and the best way to get down and dirty with your car. ..I mean literally.  It is easy and will bring you satisfaction as well.


Now you might ask why anyone one want to do this, when there are specials by the auto repair stores for like $9.99, $14.99 and $19.99. 

The problem is the quality and workmanship. With these low prices they use cheap oil and cheaper oil filter. This is basically a way for the repair shop to reel you in and try to up sell you to other ‘repairs’ on your car. Then stealer-ships service is too expensive and you have to work around their time schedule.  When you change your own oil you also get into checking other maintenance issues like fluid levels, or that air filter or the spark plug.

Basically oil change consists of draining the old used oil and replacing the oil filter and fill with new oil.

  1. When to do it: - The short answer is when the ‘Oil turns black’.  Most oil change for conventional oil is recommend at every 3000 miles by the quick lube shops are then are prompt to put the 3000 mile oil change reminder on your windshile. The 3000 miles oil change  is a BIG LIE and a method for them to get you back in. Even with normal oil you can easily do 4500-5000 Miles for normal dirving conditions. For fully synthetic oil, I have seen recommendations as high as even 10K and 15K miles before an oil change. I usually end up changing oil every 5-6000 miles for synthetic oil. Always refer your user manul for the correct interval.  For a first time change, go ahead and pull the dipstick out and note the oil color, drop the oil on a piece of white paper. Does it appear black ?, then it is better to change.
  2. Purchase the required oil and oil filter: - Before this step decide if you want to switch to full synthetic oil, i.e. if your car already doesn't’t use one. For all the benefits of synthetic oil,  I would highly suggest that you go the synthetic route. (Note – “Fully Synthetic”, not any blended crap) , my preferred brand is either Fully Synthetic Mobil-1 or Castrol.
  3. What Oil to buy? – The Oil grade (something like 5W/30, 10W/40 . 20W/50) you can find on the oil cap on top of the engine block , when you lift the hood. You can also find this information on the user manual under engine specifications. By the way the “Oil cap” is the cap to the big hole on top of the engine where you will be pouring the fresh oil. See the picture belowto get an idea.
  4. How much to buy – Google or Check the user manual , most cars  with 2 Liter engines need 4 to 5 US Quarts of oil. And bigger engines usually need 7-8 Quarts.
  5. Where to buy – Discount Parts stores usually have oil change specials – where by they bundle 5 Qts oil and a oil filter for less than what you would pay for the oil alone. I would suggest taking advantage of such offers. Wally and Costco also sell most premium brand name oils. If you don't find the recommended grade anywherelse , you can get them at the Dealer's Parts section.
  6. Preparation :- Have your oil drain pan ready. For most cars you need Jack Stands to raise it up or car ramps to ramp up the car. So have that ready.  Have an idea of where the 'oil drain plug' bolt is. With cars with under carriage engine shields , there will be a flap opening leading to access the oil drain plug. Also make sure you know where the Oil filler cap , that will be on top of the engine. Also locate the Oil filter. Google or YouTube search for DIY Oil change on your car model to get a feel about it , if this your first time

Now that you are armed with all the information , how too proceed with that Oil change :-

1.)  Run the car for a few miles or 5 minutes to get the engine warmed up.  Put your parking brake

2.) Raise the car by Jack stands or the ramps .  Be sure to put something behind the rear tire to prevent it from rolling backwards. Normally it shouldn't , since your parking brake will take care of that. For Manual cars , just leave it in first fear.

3.) Get under the car and unbolt the drain bolt with the correct socket and wrench from your mechanics tool set . Don't remove it all the way yet.  Now position the drain pan under the area and hand turn and remove the bolt .

4.) At this time you should see the Oil drain out to the drain pan. Now go back to the top of the car and loosen the Oil Filler cap a few turns.

5.) Now is time to remove that Oil filter - Using the Oil Filter wrench remove the Oil filter by turning it anti-clockwise. In some cars the Oil filter is in a small container and you need to remove the cap to access the Oil filter.

6.) Drop the oil filter to the Drain pan to let the oil drain away from it.

7.)  At this time I would leave the car alone for half hr for all oil to drain.

8.) Wipe with a tissue the drain plug, and the surface where it is going to on the engine . Make sure the surface of the bolt that mates with the bottom is nice and smooth.  Now tighten up the drain bolt.  Don't over tighten it . If you have torque wrench use that to tighten it to the specifications. I usually use a my hand judgment to make sure it is tighten decently.

Note about Drain Plug washer - Most of the bolts don't come with a washer. Sometimes they have a copper or similar washer. If so make sure replace with a similar one.Some of the Engine Filter kits come with a copper washer supplied with it as well.

9.) Now is time to put the new Oil Filter :- Take out a few drops of the new engine oil and apply it around the black rubber washer on the Filter and also inside the groove.  Clean through with a cloth (or tissue) the mating surface on the engine where the oil filter joins. Look for any debris left stuck from the previous filter and remove by a plastic soon or similar. Hand tighten the oil filter with free grip of the hand. Once the the filter makes contact with the Surface of the engine , grip it firmly and give it one full turn or the maximum extend it can turn by hand gripping to medium strength. See picture below of 2 diffferent types of oil filters here :

10.) Remove the oil filler cap out and wipe the top and the cap nicely.

11.) Now Add the required amount of Oil from the top oil filler hole. Use a Funnel if required.

12.) Put the cap back on and hand tighten it to medium strength.

13.) Lower the car now , remove the stands and start the engine. Let it run for 3-4 mins and go for a small test drive. Come back and look for any leaks or such.

14.) In your car's maintenance excel sheet - note down the mileage on the odometer and information about Oil and Filter Used.

THIS Completes your Oil Change :-)))

15.) After a day or 2 , check the oil level in the morning , if is needs oil add half a QT  and check again.

WARNING NOTES :-  Do not attempt to start the car till everything is done and complete. Do not discard oil in an environmentally harmful way. always take used oil to the parts or repair stores to have them re-cycled. They dispose it FREE of charge.