Having the right parts for the job makes any repair easier. Start by consulting your owner’s manual for oil recommendations and select quality parts like Champion Oil and a K&N oil filter. Why fork out the extra bucks for premium oil? Well, there’s a difference between olive oils and body oils, and motor oils are no exception. Synthetic oil, increasingly used in new cars, provides additional benefits like increased protection and better longevity over normal oil.
Under the Hood
Make sure the service stays safe, by draining the oil from a cold car, which prevents burns on hot components. Start the service by opening the hood, removing the oil filler cap and placing it against the hood latch. Why do this? Popping the cap gives you a place to add new oil and allows the old oil to drain faster from the pan. Placing it on the hood latch simply lets you know where you left it. You want to get the engine compartment situated before you jack the car up, because you may not be able to reach things afterward. Next, move the jack under the car, lift it into position and place jack stands under the chassis. If you are in doubt about this process, check out our detailed guide on How to safely jack up a Car, Truck or SUV Using Jacks, Stands & Garage Ramps before continuing. Slowly release the pressure from the jack and move it away from the car. Proving that trash is sometimes treasure, a sheet of cardboard, or an old towel under the car protects your driveway from spilled oil and your back if you don’t have a creeper. Slide some cardboard or a towel under a drain pan. Keep in mind that removing the drain plug causes oil to arc outward a few inches, so position the pan accordingly.
Key Steps for a Successful Oil Change
Slither under the car and place a tightly fitting closed-end wrench on the drain plug and turn counter clockwise. The plug is tight only at first and becomes easier to turn as you remove it. When the plug loosens, remove the wrench and use your fingers to remove the plug until a visible drop of oil begins to form. You are close at this point so, being ready to hold the plug and clear the incoming torrent of oil with cat-like reflexes. A dirty hand is the only result from dropping the plug into the drain pan, so don’t be too concerned. Hopefully at this point, you are still clean and have the oil steadily draining, sliding the pan to keep the stream centered. When only drops of oil are coming out, screw the plug back in clockwise and tighten to manufacturer’s specifications. Just like a plastic Easter egg, the oil filter is sometimes tricky to find and full of nasty candy. Look for it attached to, or near the engine. As an important side note, don’t confuse it with the external transmission filter if your car has one. Spin the engine oil filter counter clockwise with a filter tool and allow it to drain into the drain pan. Using your magic fingers, smear clean oil on the new filter’s O-ring and install clockwise until it’s hand-tight. Never use a tool to install an oil filter.
Finishing up Your Job
Drag yourself out from under the car, wave your arms in the air victoriously, and add the correct amount of new oil as per the owner’s manual. Proudly screw the oil cap back on, carefully lower the car and clean up the mess. Feel free to be amazed at the amount your dealership is charging for the same service that you so easily did, and give yourself an oily pat on the back.