Changing your oil regularly is the single best thing you can do to prolong the life of your car’s engine. And if you do this simple 20-minute job yourself, you can save money and know that it was done right.
However, it’s not a task for everybody. Most of the job is easy, but you’ll probably have to raise your car to get at the drain plug. You’ll need a sturdy set of ramps for your car or a floor jack and safety stands designed for your car’s weight. Some people have a phobia about getting under their car. If you’re one of them, stop here and make an appointment at a lube shop.
Also, before you start, look under the car and make sure you’ll be able to get at the filter to remove it. Some makes of cars have awkward setups that make it nearly impossible to get at and remove the filter with ordinary tools. If that’s the case, call for an appointment and pay the $30 fee.
Check your owner’s manual for the vehicle’s oil capacity and drain plug location. For most jobs, you’ll need 4 or 5 qts. of oil, an oil filter wrench, a box-end wrench the size of your filler plug, a funnel, rags and, of course, a new oil filter appropriate for your car or truck.
TIP: If your car’s engine is cold, let the engine run for a few minutes to warm up the oil. This helps loosen the contaminants in the oil so they’ll flow out into the drain pan. However, don’t try to drain the oil if the engine is hot. Let it cool to avoid burning your hand.
The oil may be hot! Let a hot engine cool before draining the oil.