Car care: how to change oil in a car

Changing your car's oil and oil filter regularly is one of most important things you can do to keep your car running smoothly. Over time, oil in your car breaks down and filter becomes clogged with contaminants. According to your personal driving habits and models, engine oil should be changed every 3 months or at least 4,800 kilometers and at least every 24 months or 32,000 kilometers (see corresponding instructions in owner's manual). Luckily, changing oil is a simple and inexpensive affair. Here's how to change your engine oil.


1 Drain oil

Car care: how to change oil in a car

1. Raise car. Jack or ramp required. On level ground, apply handbrake and jack up vehicle. Jacks that are out of place can seriously damage your vehicle, so check your owner's manual for specific instructions for your model. Working under vehicle while it is being jacked up is especially dangerous, so be sure to apply handbrake first.

  • If you want to use ramp to lift car, make sure rear wheels are secured with blocks. Have someone help you up slope, making sure you don't overload car enough that person can get hit by car.
  • Car care: how to change oil in a car

    2. If you don't want to lift your car, you can park it at top of ditch. Make sure emergency braking is on, wheels are tight and tires are fully secured to road.

    3 Let engine run to warm up oil. 2-3 minutes of work is enough for oil to shake up and flow out faster. Solid contaminants tend to settle to bottom in cold oil, and solids can only enter oil when oil is agitated. So let engine run to make sure oil in crankcase is completely drained.

  • When engine is running, you will have necessary tools ready. You will need new oil, a new oil filter, a container and newspaper to catch dripping old oil, and possibly a socket wrench and a flashlight. Consult your vehicle owner's manual to determine type of oil and oil filter you need.
  • Car care: how to change oil in a car

    4 Any auto shop will tell you type of oil and oil filter if you tell your car model.

    Car care: how to change oil in a car

    5 Open oil cap. Open hood and locate oil cap located at top of engine. This is where you drain old oil and add new oil, opening it will allow you to drain old oil faster because air can enter when crankcase is empty.

    6 Locate oil pan. Locate a flat metal shell on bottom of car, closer to engine than transmission fluid sump. It should have a stud or plug pointing down. This is an oil plug that must be removed before oil can drain. Directly under oil plug, place a container and a few pieces of newspaper to collect old oil.

    Car care: how to change oil in a car

    7 If you can't tell oil pan from transmission fluid pan, run engine for 5-10 minutes. At this point, oil pan will heat up, but transmission fluid pan will not.

  • Remove oil plug. Use an appropriately sized crescent wrench to unscrew oil plug counterclockwise. The drain plug round gasket should also be removed and replaced, although metal gaskets can be reused in good condition.
  • When you unscrew oil plug, oil flows out immediately and at an angle, so collecting oil is a difficult process. After loosening oil plug with a wrench, pull oil drain plug out by hand. Before removing drain plug, make sure that oil container and newspaper are out of way. Then, be careful not to drop drain plug into old oil, as removing drain plug from old oil will be messy. If it falls, you can also use a magnet to suck it up.
  • Another easy way to collect old oil is to use a funnel with a sieve. After collecting drained oil, you can remove funnel and set it aside.
  • If you need extra tools to open drain plug, a ratchet wrench extension tube will help. This is usually required when the drain plug is too tight.
  • Car care: how to change oil in a car

    8 Oil may get on your hands or clothes during this process. Taking away newspaper is a sensible precaution, otherwise you'll have to clean up a lot of oil stains in your driveway or garage.

  • Wait a minute. It will take several minutes for all oil to drain out of car. When old oil stops draining, install oil plug. Tighten it by hand, and when there are no problems, tighten with a wrench. Don't forget to install replacement gaskets or washers.
  • Car care: how to change oil in a car

    9 While you're under car, take a moment to find blue or white cylinder oil filter. Next, you'll replace this thing.

    Method 2

    1 Change engine oil

  • Locate oil filter assembly. There is no standard where to put oil filter, they can be in front, behind or on side of engine, depending on car model. You can find location of oil filter by following new oil filter you purchased. As a rule, these are white, blue or black cylindrical objects 10-15 cm long and 7.5 cm wide, resembling a tin can.
  • Car care: how to change oil in a car

    2 There may be some cars, such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, whose filter element or ink cartridge is not a simple squeeze type, you need to open built-in fluid reservoir cover and take out filter element.

  • Unscrew oil filter. Hold oil filter firmly and slowly and firmly unscrew it counterclockwise. The plastic coating and grease in engine bay can make filter a bit slippery, use a rag or kinetic gloves to get a better grip on it. The oil filter wrench basically holds filter with a rubber belt, you can use your old belt or an old alternator belt buckle in garage.
  • Make sure old oil container remains under vehicle to collect drained oil. When you unscrew oil filter, some of oil remaining in filter will come out.
  • When removing oil filter, make sure oil filter seal is removed along with oil filter. If seals are left on vehicle, new oil filter will not seal well, resulting in leaks. Therefore, when seal remains, scrape off the adhesive with your fingers or a screwdriver.
  • Car care: how to change oil in a car

    3 To avoid excessive oil leakage when removing oil filter, you can wrap oil filter in a plastic bag to catch oil that flows out during removal process. When you're done with this job, turn oil filter upside down and put it in a plastic bag to drain used oil.

    4 Prepare a new oil filter. Dip your fingertip in new oil and apply it to seal of new oil filter. This will keep seal lubricated, create a good seal, and ensure you can remove it without a problem next time.

    Car care: how to change oil in a car

    5 You can also add some oil to oil filter before installing it. This will shorten time it takes your car to restore proper oil pressure. If your oil filter is mounted vertically it may almost fill up with oil, if it is mounted at an angle some oil will leak out before the filter is screwed in, but not much.

    Car care: how to change oil in a car

    6 Carefully screw in new greased oil filter. Oil filters usually have instructions on how tight to tighten, so see instructions on box for more detailed instructions. In general, you will tighten oil filter until it contacts gasket, then a quarter of a turn.

    Method 3

    1 Add new oil

  • Pour new oil into car. The amount to be added is indicated in instructions, usually listed below capacity.
  • If you hold it by spout at top of bottle, water will flow more smoothly, without bubbles.
  • Make sure you add correct oil. In general, most vehicles can safely add 10W-30, but you should check with your owner's manual or any auto shop specialist before adding.
  • Car care: how to change oil in a car

    2 Close hood. Check car for any tools you may have left behind, then put hood back on.

  • Do your best to wipe up any oil spills. While a small amount of oil in crankcase is not dangerous, it can create smoke and a burning oil smell when engine warms up, which can cause panic and create a bad smell in vehicle interior.
  • Car care: how to change oil in a car

    3 Start engine. Check after starting to make sure oil pressure light is off. Stop car in a parking lot to see if it's dripping and check under car again for leaks. If oil filter or oil plug is not tight enough, it may leak slowly. Let the engine run for a minute to build up pressure and check that everything is installed correctly.

    Car care: how to change oil in a car

    4 Reset oil change indicator. This depends on make and model of your vehicle, so please refer to your vehicle owner's manual for specific setup steps. On most vehicles, following method works: turn off engine, then turn on ignition without starting car. Next, press accelerator three times within ten seconds. The light should reset when backed up.

    Method 4

    Used oil treatment

    Car care: how to change oil in a car

    1 Pour oil into an airtight container. Now that you've changed oil, it's safest to drain used oil into a permanent container and add it to new container you just emptied. Using a plastic funnel, pour slowly so that oil does not spill. Clearly write "used oil" so as not to confuse it with something else.

  • Other containers include old milk jugs, windshield washer fluid jugs, and other plastic bottles. When you use old food bottles, label them clearly and be very careful.
  • Do not store old oil in containers filled with chemicals such as bleach, pesticides, paint, or antifreeze. This can contaminate recycling process.
  • Car care: how to change oil in a car

    2 Make sure oil in oil filter is drained. These oils (sometimes up to 225 grams) can be added to old motor oil. Oil filters are also recyclable, so save them.

    Car care: how to change oil in a car

    3 Locate a used oil collection point in your area. As a rule, in any place where motor oils are sold, there is information about where you can collect used oil. Retailers that sell more than 1,000 oil filters per year must accept used oil filters. Many service stations that do oil changes will also accept your used oil, albeit sometimes for a small fee.

    Car care: how to change oil in a car

    4 Next time you can try recycled oil, that is, oil made from used engine oil that meets same certifications and specifications as new oil. This process requires less energy than refining new oil, so engine oil refining helps reduce need to import oil from overseas. In some cases, recycled oil also costs less than new oil.


  • There are several oil drain valves on market that can replace a conventional drain tank bolt. This can make changing your oil easier and reduce mess you unintentionally create.
  • For a tight oil filter, use a hammer and a large screwdriver as tools, push filter counterclockwise.
  • To avoid oiling your hand when removing oil drain plug, hold it firmly when removing it (as if you are trying to insert a plug into a hole). When you know bolt is completely loose, pull it out quickly. With luck, only a few drops of oil will fall on your hands. Wrap rag around your wrist, unscrewing oil plug.
  • If you get oil on your hands, consider using a green, environmentally friendly oil-absorbing product that absorbs oil and keeps your garage and driveway clean. Cat litter or clay-based products are not most effective solutions. You can find a wide variety of organic oil-absorbing products online. They absorb moisture well, are easy to use and can be used several times.
  • Warning

  • Do not confuse oil inlet with transmission fluid inlet. If you add oil to your transmission fluid, you can destroy your transmission system.
  • Be careful not to burn yourself. The engine, old oil inside, and other vehicle parts can remain hot enough to burn you long after ignition is turned off.
  • You need to prepare

  • 4-6 liters of oil. Make sure oil you are using matches your vehicle's API performance class. Since 2004, most vehicles require an "SM" rating.
  • Wrench. For European or Japanese vehicles, you will probably need a set of ratchet wrenches.
  • Oil filter. Some also have a coating to make it easier to install and tighten filter.
  • Oil filter wrench (optional). Oil filter wrenches come in different sizes depending on diameter of filter. Expensive double loops work just fine.
  • Choose how to pick up car. Using a ramp or jack is safest method.
  • A container for collecting old oil, andalso a funnel and a sturdy jug for transporting oil.
  • An oiled rag or paper towel.
  • Some vehicles require removal of top or bottom panels, which may require additional tools.