How to Change Engine Oil: The Ultimate Guide

To maintain your car’s performance, one of the most crucial things you can do is to change your engine oil and filter regularly.

Your oil will deteriorate and your filter will get filled with impurities over time.

How often you should do this depends on your driving habits, but generally, it’s recommended every 3 months or 3,000 miles to 20,000 miles or 24 months.

Luckily, changing your oil is simple and cheap, so the earlier you do it when your car requires it, the better.

Join us in this article and discuss the skill of swiftly changing your car’s oil without making a mess.

This not only saves you money but also adds thousands of miles to your car’s lifespan.

An image of how to change engine oil
How to change engine oil
Source: shieldoils

How to Change Engine Oil in 7 Steps

Purchase the Correct Oil and Oil Filter

Cheaper filters might only last 3,000 miles, so consider better ones if you drive more.

Importantly, ensure to check your owner’s manual for the type and weight of oil your car needs before going to the store.

Following the manufacturer’s suggestions on oil thickness is important.

Remove the Oil Plug

Begin by laying a plastic sheet on the ground and drive your car onto it.

This prevents oil spills on your garage floor, and you can easily discard the entire sheet when done or keep it for the next oil change if there are no spills.

Subsequently, lift the car with a jack, position the jack stands, and then lower the car.

Additionally, here’s an expert tip:

If you’re on asphalt, place plywood squares under the jack stands for added support.

Unscrew the plug, swiftly pull it away from the oil stream, and clean the drain plug.

If needed, replace the gasket with a new one.

Take off the Oil Filter

Loosen and remove the old oil filter, ensuring the rubber gasket comes off with it. If it doesn’t, carefully peel it off from the engine.

Oil Filter Wrenches

Various oil filter wrenches are suitable for different cars. Choose the one that provides the most space for easy handling.

Add Fresh Oil

While pouring in fresh oil, keep the oil cap off and placed securely aside.

Unscrew the lid from the oil container and grasp the bottle with the spout facing upward.

Holding the bottle in this manner ensures a smoother and less bubbly pouring of the oil.

Quickly invert the oil container and insert the bottle’s tip into the engine’s fill hole. Aim to minimize any oil spills during this process.

Upon completion, place the fill cap back on the engine.

Remember to check for any tools you might have left behind and close the hood.

It’s a good idea to clean up any spills or rinse spilled oil with water if possible.

Additionally, inspect under the car to ensure there are no leaks.

While it’s not harmful to get a bit of oil on the crankcase during pouring, it might produce smoke as the engine warms up, resulting in a momentary burning oil smell that can be concerning.

Moreover, it can create an unpleasant odor inside your car.

Put the fill cap back on the engine.

Start the engine and observe the oil pressure light. If the “check oil pressure” light is illuminated upon starting the car, it could indicate insufficient oil or a potential leak.

In this case, keep the car in park or neutral with the parking brake engaged, and carefully inspect under the vehicle for any signs of leaks or drips.

Additionally, loose filter and drain plug connections might lead to slow leaks.

Subsequently, allow the engine to run for a minute to build up pressure and confirm that all components are properly installed.

If you notice a leak, turn off the engine and let it cool for approximately 10 minutes. Then, get under the vehicle and tighten the fill cap beneath the car, as this is the most probable source of oil leakage.

Extra Tips for a DIY Engine Oil Change from the Experts

  • If the engine is cold, initiate it and let it run for five minutes to warm up the oil. If it’s already hot, wait at least 30 minutes to prevent burns.
  • Avoid using an adjustable wrench or socket on the drain plug. Opt for the appropriately sized box-end wrench, usually metric, for the plug.
  • Always use jack stands. Never attempt to work beneath a car supported solely by a jack.
  • Before attaching the oil filter, apply new oil to the filter gasket.
  • Hand-tighten the filter; refrain from using a filter wrench.
  • Locate an oil or oil filter recycling center nearby through or an internet search.
  • Arrange all the oil bottles needed for the refill to prevent losing count during the process.

What Not to Do during an Engine Oil Change

  • Not warming up your engine before draining the old oil – This can result in leaving some contaminants and sludge in the engine.
  • Dropping the oil drain plug into the drain pan – This can make it hard to find and retrieve the plug, and also contaminate the used oil.
  • Overtightening the drain plug or filter – This can damage the threads, cause leaks, or make it difficult to remove them in the future.
  • Forgetting to replace the crush washer on the drain plug – This can also cause leaks or damage the threads.
  • Spilling oil on the engine or the ground – This can create a fire hazard, harm the environment, or stain your driveway


Doing your own engine oil change is an easy and satisfying way to cut costs and maintain your car.

By adhering to these guidelines, you can complete the process in under an hour, promoting a smooth and efficient engine operation.

It’s important to regularly check your oil level and quality, changing it based on the recommendations from your vehicle’s manufacturer.

After an engine oil change, properly oil and filter at a recycling center or auto-parts store.

With some practice and confidence, you can handle your oil change like an expert and reap the rewards of DIY car care.

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