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DIY Oil Change: A Step-by-Step Guide

Changing the oil in your vehicle isn’t as tough as it sounds, even for a completely inexperienced mechanic. It only takes about 30 minutes – with no waiting in a crowded, stuffy lobby. Best of all, a DIY oil change is a lot cheaper than paying someone else to do it.

1) Gather supplies.

      Use this checklist to make sure you have all the parts you need.


  • Your vehicle’s owner’s manual
  • 4-6 quarts of oil (see owner’s manual for recommended type)
  • Jacks or ramps
  • New oil filter
  • Oil filter wrench set
  • Funnel
  • Large drain pan (5-7 quarts)
  • Rags
  • Mechanic work gloves
  • Hand cleaner
  • Safety glasses

2)    Get your vehicle ready.

Choose a level surface, then use jacks or ramps to lift your vehicle from the ground. Put the vehicle in first gear if it has a manual transmission or park if it’s automatic. Apply the emergency brake.

Let the vehicle run for five minutes so the oil will be warm and easier to drain, then turn off the engine and raise the hood.


3)    Drain the oil.

Refer to your owner’s manual to locate the oil drain plug. Place the drain pan underneath it on the ground, and loosen the plug with a wrench from your set.

Once the plug is loose, finish removing it by hand. As you unscrew, push the plug back toward the vehicle to keep the oil from gushing out before you remove the plug.

Pro tip: Removing the oil filter cap on the top of the engine speeds up the draining process.

After all the old oil is drained, tighten the new oil plug by hand until it is snug, then finish tightening it with a wrench.


4)    Replace the oil filter.

Reposition the drain pan underneath the oil filter. Then use a wrench to loosen the oil filter by turning it counterclockwise. You can finish removing it by hand, but be sure to use mechanic work gloves as the filter will be hot.

Carefully move the old filter away from the engine, and tip the contents into the drain pan. Set the pan and its old oil to the side to safely dispose of later.

Next, use a rag to clean the mounting surface.

Before installing the new filter, apply a light film of new oil to the gasket (the edge of the filter) with your finger. Screw in the new filter by hand, rotating it clockwise. There is typically no need to use a wrench. Check your filter’s box for special installation instructions.

Once the new filter is installed, lower the vehicle to the ground.


5)    Add new oil.

Check your owner’s manual to see how many quarts of oil to add. Pour the oil into the filler hole on top of the engine by using a funnel. Check the dipstick to make sure there is enough oil, then replace the filler cap and wipe away any spills.

Turn on your engine and let it run for a few minutes, checking for any leaks. If you notice oil leaking, shut your engine off immediately and make sure all parts are positioned correctly.

If there are no leaks, turn your vehicle off after a few minutes. Check the oil level one last time, and add extra if needed.


6)    Wrap things up.

You can’t just throw used motor oil in the trash or pour it down a drain. It needs to be disposed of safely so it doesn’t harm the environment. Transfer the old oil from the drain pan to a sealed container, and take it and the old filter to an authorized location, such as your local Auto Tire and Parts NAPA, for proper disposal.

Pro tip: Record the oil change mileage and date, so you’ll know when to change it again.

Everything you need for an oil change is available at your local Auto Tire and Parts NAPA. If you hit any snags or want a few more pro tips, stop by or call for expert advice.


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