DIY Vehicle Maintenance: How to Change Your Car Oil & Filter

Change oil and filter

Basic car maintenance involves doing a lot of check-ups and from time to time a change of parts or liquids. One of those liquids is oil which is almost always followed by an oil filter replacement.

Changing the oil is done to keep the engine lubricated and to help keep the engine’s components cool. A regular oil change also helps increase gas mileage and it contributes to the vehicle’s longevity.

It is recommended that you change your car oil about every 7,500 miles (12,000 km) but that largely depends on how you drive your vehicle.

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What You’ll Need

To keep everything tidy when doing this somewhat messy task it’s important to get a pair of latex gloves, an oil drip pan and a funnel alongside a socket/ box end wrench, and jack/ jack stands/ ramps (depending on ground clearance).

Depending on your vehicle, your car oil change may require the drain plug washer to be replaced.


When doing this type of DIY car service you have to start by parking your car on a flat surface with the parking brake on and the keys out of the ignition. Before you jack up your vehicle remember to let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes so the oil cools down.

Place the jack underneath the front of your vehicle with the square end of the crank placed into the square receptacle.

Rotate the crank clockwise to start lifting your vehicle until you have it at about 18 inches (45 cm) from the ground – this should be enough space for you to work comfortably.

If you don’t have a jack, position the front two wheels onto steel ramps. Make sure to restrain your vehicle from moving by placing a wheel block behind one of the back tyres.

Installing New Filter

The filter assembly is located under the vehicle’s hood either on the front, back or side of the engine depending on your car model. This is done before the car oil change as otherwise, fuel will go back into the engine which means that you haven’t completely drained the oil out.

An oil filter can be removed after you’ve drained out the oil if your vehicle happens to be using a plate type filter.

  1.  Place the drain pan under the filter and star twisting it counterclockwise. To prevent spilling too much oil you can put a plastic bag around the filter to catch any oil that may escape. Coat the new filter with a layer of the new oil to lubricate the gasket and make for a good seal.
  2. This will also make it easier to remove the filter the next time you change the oil. Screw in the new filter but be careful not to cross threads as oil filters usually have delicate threads. Tighten the filter until the gasket is touching, then just do a quarter-turn and you can go ahead and add the new oil.

Draining The Oil

Whilst the oil will drain out pretty quickly, you should still wait for an additional 2 or 3 minutes as it is a thick liquid – it won’t come all out at once.

Once there’s no oil left in the crankcase, put the plug back in place, either the old or a new one (depending on the car model) and tighten it firmly together with the washer.

Adding The New Oil

With the oil cap still off, pour the new oil with the spout facing towards you so it goes in smoothly. Screw the fill cap back on the engine and close the hood. Look under your vehicle for any leaks – a little bit of oil on the crankcase is normal.

Start the engine and take a look at the oil pressure light, if it’s on it means that you haven’t tightened something well enough

Inspect the undercarriage of your car for any leaks – the drain and filter plug may be loose if there is oil leaking.

Run the engine for about a minute so you increase the pressure but if you still spot a leak turn it off and let it cool down for about 10 minutes or so.

After that get under your vehicle and make sure you’ve tightened the fill cap well as this is the most common place for oil to start leaking