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Changing Motor Oil & Oil Filter

This DIY Basic will provide tips on changing motor oil and oil filter.

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Watch an Overview Video

Gather Your Materials and Tools

Materials and Tools:
motor oil
high-quality oil filter
socket wrench
oil filter wrench
oil pan or bucket

Prep the Car and Workspace

For long life and high performance, your car needs regular oil and filter changes. Change your oil according to your owner's manual, not a service station or tune-up place; you can also go online and research by model/year of your car.

Start by moving car to level area like garage or driveway. For safety, never work on a car parked on a slope.

Cover area with old newspapers.

Warm engine by running it for a couple of minutes.

Drain the Oil

If your car is too low to get under easily, raise it with a jack and jack stands or with ramps. For safety, NEVER get under vehicle supported only by jack.

Tip: Low ground clearance car (sport, sedan, crossover) = jack and jack stands or ramps with creeper optional; high ground clearance car (truck or SUV) = no need to lift vehicle with creeper optional.

For safety, wear safety goggles and mechanics gloves.

Place oil pan under drain plug.

With socket wrench, remove plug by turning counterclockwise.

When oil slows to a drip, reinstall plug and tighten with quarter turn of wrench. Don't be alarmed by the dark color of the oil; that means it's doing its job, capturing contaminants during combustion.

Install the New Filter

With oil pan under filter, remove filter with filter wrench. Turn filter counterclockwise to loosen.

Apply motor oil to new gasket on filter to keep it from sticking, cracking or causing oil leak.

Install new filter by hand.

Tip: Use only recommended grade and amount of motor oil as recommended in owner's manual. Because synthetic motor oil contains far fewer impurities than conventional base oils, it is more stable under extreme temperatures and gives engine more protection and better performance; synthetic oil is most effective after the "break-in" period of the car.

Add the New Oil

Remove oil-filter cap and pour oil into tank. Make sure plug is back in before adding new oil. Funnel will keep oil from spilling.

Replace cap and wipe away spilled oil.

Run engine for one minute to circulate oil, then check for correct oil level.

Seal uncleaned pan in plastic bag for use next time.

Recycle old motor oil at service station or recycling center.

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