Changing your car’s engine oil is a lot easier than you would expect and certainly something that you can do yourself. Whether you own a performance or classic car, the process to change engine oil is pretty much the same.
Before you even begin to change your car’s oil, you will want to ensure you use the correct engine oil. They are available in a number of blends (semi or full synthetic), viscosity’s (5W30 or 5W40) and even specifications. If you are unsure what oil to use, we highly recommend looking at your car’s owners manual.
What You’ll Need
- New engine oil
- New oil filter
- Drip tray
- Paper towels
- Oil filter wrench
- Access to a car lift or a trolley jack
- Sump plug washer
Although you need a few tools and parts, changing the engine oil yourself instantly reduces the cost of an oil change because there are no labour costs. Items such as the wrench, trolley jack and drip tray are also useful for other tasks and any future engine oil changes that you perform yourself.
How To Change Engine Oil
1. Jack/Lift The Car Up
Unless you are lucky enough to own a car lift, you’ll need to lift the car up using a trolley jack. This will give you access to the plastic undertray and the sump plug used to remove the old engine oil.
2. Unplug The Sump Plug & Drain It
Place the drip tray directly underneath the sump plug ready for oil collection. Once it’s in position, unplug the sump plug, grab yourself a coffee and allow the oil to completely drain out of the engine.
3. Remove The Oil Filter
Whilst the oil is draining out, it’s a good time remove the old oil filter from the car. In order to do this safely, it’s advised that you use an oil filter wrench with the appropriate socket for removing it. You will need to turn it counter clockwise in order to remove it but be warned, oil may drip out of it. Therefore, we recommend preparing an area for the old filter to go before removing it and also have plenty of paper towels to remove any spilled oil in the engine.
4. Change The Oil Filter
Open the box of the new oil filter and attach all of the new rubber washers to the filter. Once the new oil filter is ready, simply attach it and tighten it using the wrench. It’s important that you don’t over-tighten it but do try and tighten it so that its a bit more than just “hand tight”.
5. Reattach The Sump Plug & Undertray
Before you begin to change the engine oil, it’s crucial that you reattach the sump plug correctly. It’s also good practice to replace the sump plug washer too as this can help reduce any oil leaks in the future, which commonly come from the sump plug. You may also want to use a torque wrench to tighten the sump plug to the correct torque rating too.
Whilst you are underneath the car, you may as well reattach the plastic undertray because you won’t need to go underneath the car again.
6. Add New Oil
Once the sump plug is securely tightened, you can begin to change the engine oil. Firstly, you will want to prepare the area by removing the oil cap, placing plenty of paper towels around it and then putting the funnel in place.
You can then begin pouring in the engine oil until it has reached the maximum level required, which will be stated in the owners manual. Rather than pouring all the oil straight into the engine, we would recommend checking the oil level 1 litre before it reaches its max level. This prevents you from overfilling the engine, which can be difficult to remove without having the correct tools. Once you have checked the oil, continue to add more slowly until you reach the optimum level.
7. Check The Level
Before starting the engine, we recommend letting the oil settle in the pan for a few minutes and performing one final check of the oil level. We wrote a detailed guide on how to check your car’s engine oil if you aren’t sure how to.
8. Reset The Service Light
After you have completed the oil change, you may want to reset the service light upon the dash. Depending upon your car, you may be able to do it from the dash of your car or steering wheel buttons. However, if not, you may need to use a car diagnostic tool in order to clear the service light indicator.
To change your car’s engine oil yourself is relatively straightforward but there are some top tips that we would recommend. The first is to ensure you cover the engine with plenty of paper towels whilst pouring the oil into the engine. Spilling oil all over the engine can be quite difficult to clean up and its something you’d want to avoid.
Another tip that we would recommend is to clean the undertray whilst its off the car with a degreaser. We have written a great guide on how to use an engine degreaser where we use the undertray as an example.
Changing engine oil really is that simple and is a task that anyone can do themselves in order to save money. There is very little that can go wrong and it takes less than a hour as long as everything goes to plan. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch and we can provide you with any advice on how to change your car’s engine oil.