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10 Easy Steps to Changing Your Oil

10 Easy Steps to Changing Your Oil

Man Working On Car Engine

Getting your oil changed at a mechanic can run you around $30, and in this economy, every little bit that you can save counts. Most of that charge goes towards labor, so if you can change your oil yourself, you'll save hundreds of dollars over the lifetime of a vehicle. Better yet, you'll know that your car is being treated like it was your own -- because it is!

What you'll need:

  • New oil filter
  • Oil
  • Oil filter wrench
  • Socket wrench
  • Oil drip pan
  • Funnel
  • Rags

What to do:

1. Warm up your car - The Art of Manliness recommends that you take your car for a quick spin before you empty your oil filter. This will thin your oil a little bit, meaning that it will drain more easily.

2. Find your drain plug - This is the nut or plug that allows you to drain oil out of the bottom of your car. It usually looks like a fairly large plug on the bottom of your oil pan. Once you've located the drain plug, place your oil drip pan underneath it.

3. Remove the oil filler cap - The oil filler cap is under your hood. You don't have to remove it first, but it may help to ensure that all of your oil drains out by allowing air to flow in as the oil flows out.

4. Remove the drain plug - Use an appropriately sized wrench and start unscrewing the drain plug. Don't unscrew the plug all the way with your wrench, or you'll lose it in the drip pan. Instead, loosen the plug until you can unscrew it with your hands and a rag - just be ready to move your hands out of the way when the oil starts flowing!

5. Let your oil drain - This should take about two minutes for most automobiles.

6. Remove your oil filter - The Art of Manliness warns that it can be difficult to locate your oil filter the first time you change the oil on a new car, as there isn't a standard location for it. The best bet is to look at your new filter to get an idea of what it looks like and search underneath your car for something that looks similar. Once you've located it, either use your hand or your oil filter wrench to get it out. More oil will come out when you remove the filter, so make sure that your drip pan is ready.

7. Moisten the gasket - For Dummies recommends that you use a little bit of your new oil to moisten your gasket on the new filter, which will help it to seal tightly.

8. Screw in the new filter - You should be able to screw in the new filter by hand. Screw until the filter is reasonable tight, and then try to give it one more firm half turn.

9. Replace the drain plug - Screw the drain plug back into place under your car until it is tight - everything under your car should look the same as it did before you started. Once you're done, remove the drip pan and pour your oil into an old milk jug for storage. You can't just throw old oil away, so take it with you next time you go to the mechanic for disposal.

10. Pour in the oil - Finally, it's time to pour the new oil into your engine. Most engines take about four to five quarts. Once you're done, replace the oil filler cap tightly. Once you're done, run your engine in a well ventilated area for a few minutes to let it regain normal oil pressure.

Congratulations, you're done! Despite what you may have heard, most cars don't need their oil changed every 3,000 miles - consult your owner's manual to find out how long your car can go without a change. Just like maintaining your auto insurance policy, knowing how to change your oil is a part of being a responsible car owner.

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