How to Change Your Own Oil
As a car owner, you want to treat your car well and maintain it so it lasts you a long time. Every car has a ton of parts, over 30,000 of them in the average vehicle, and all of them start to wear out over time. Not all will need replacing, but one of the most costly parts to have replaced is your engine if it is not taken care of.
Compared to engines 30 years ago, modern engines don’t require much attention to keep them running smoothly, due to all of the technological advancements made to the computer systems used to help run them. However, with said technology built into them such as Variable Valve Timing (VVT), Variable Cam Timing (VCT) and Cylinder Deactivation (MDS) to name a few, making sure that you regularly change your oil and check the condition of it once a week will help to keep your engine healthy and prolong its life.
Why do you need an oil change?
To put it simply, oil is the lifeblood of your engine. It helps keep the internal moving parts cool, and also keeps them well-lubricated to prevent rubbing against one another, which is where most wear and tear takes place, especially on a cold/first start. Modern engines today, while built at high tolerances during manufacturing, are run at much higher temperatures, higher pressures, and have tighter oil passageways in engine blocks that require a thinner oil due to stricter emissions and the quest for better fuel efficiency.
As a result, many auto manufacturers have resorted to using Turbochargers for a boost in power in smaller engines to help match the power of older, bigger engines without sacrificing fuel economy. If you have a Turbocharged vehicle, your oil also runs through lines that help to cool it down, especially under hard driving conditions where the Turbo itself can reach temperatures over 1740°F (950°C). Having your oil changed on a regular basis, especially with a quality full synthetic oil, is imperative to keeping your engine running at optimal temperatures while protecting its vital components.
Many manufactures will claim that their oil will last 15,000 or even 20,000 miles on a change. While the oil itself might be advanced enough to handle the prolonged heat & stress, the consequence lies with the oil filter. As an engine circulates oil, the filter blocks out and traps contaminants. Depending on driving habits, conditions and climate, the filter can become full after 5,000 miles or so.
Most, if not all, modern oil filters have a by-pass valve that will allow oil to pass through if it becomes clogged; however all of the contaminants then begin circulating through your engine, potentially causing damage as a result. Despite what your owner’s manual may say or what other manufacturers tell you, having your oil changed every 3,000-5,000 miles is imperative to keeping your engine in good shape. A good way of thinking is: Would you rather spend less than $100 on an oil change or $4,000+ on a new engine before the installation cost?
How to change your oil
While changing your own oil might sound intimidating, it’s actually quite simple and only requires a few tools. By doing so, you’ll save yourself hundreds of dollars a year, if not more. Below are the basic steps necessary to change your oil, worry free:
Consult with your owner’s manual or dealership about the type of oil weight your vehicle takes (10w-30, 5w-30, 5w-20, etc.) and the correct part number on your oil filter to ensure everything is sealed and won’t leak. Typically, your VIN number is a good reference for those who work in parts departments.
Driving the vehicle up to operating temperature will ensure the oil comes out quickly, as it will be thinner than when the oil is cold. Purchase vehicle ramps to drive up on, or jack the vehicle up with a jack and jack stands using the appropriate jack points on your vehicle. With your WeatherTech All-Purpose Mat in place and the oil catch can on top of it, put on gloves and safety glasses and locate the drain bolt on the oil pan directly underneath the vehicle. It will either be positioned in a straight down style or angled/sloped downward towards the ground.
With the correct size socket and socket wrench, carefully break the drain bolt loose (it’s okay if a little force is needed, just not too much) and continue loosening it by hand. Once the oil starts flowing out, wipe the drain plug clean with a shop towel and replace the gasket on the plug as needed. Place your clean drain plug and socket wrench on your WeatherTech FlexTray for easy access and mess-free cleanup, and let the oil drain for approximately 10 minutes.
Once the flow has stopped, wipe off around the drain plug hole and insert the drain plug. Tighten by hand until hand tight and with a torque wrench, finish tightening to manufacturer specifications. Once this is completed, it is time for the oil filter. Most oil filters will be located right next to the oil pan either vertically or horizontally and are a twist style; however, there are also cartridge style filters. We recommend checking with your dealership to see what kind your vehicle needs first.
Twist off the oil filter (either by hand or with an oil filter wrench if it’s on tight) and let all the oil flow out of the housing. Once that has emptied, the next step is very important: Take a shop towel and wipe the surface of the oil filter housing clean so that the new oil filter can seat properly. Along with this, wipe some new or used oil on the rubber gasket of the new filter so that it breaks free easily the next time you take it off. Hand tighten the new filter on, and give it another ¾ turn or so; that will be plenty tight.
The last step is filling up your engine with fresh oil. Check your owner’s manual for the number of quarts your engine is designed to hold. Remove the oil cap from the top or side of the engine, insert a funnel, and start to pour the oil in. Stop pouring when you are about half a quart off from the manufacturer specification to avoid over-filling, replace the oil filler cap, and start the car for about 30-45 seconds. Check for leaks underneath while it’s running, and shut it off. After 10 minutes, pull the dipstick and see what the oil level reads. If low, continue to add more oil a little at a time until full.
Changing your oil is a fun learning experience that teaches you a new life skill that can be passed onto others, and save you money in the long run!