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How to Change the Oil on Your Car

All you need for most oil changes is a suitable jack, an oil funnel, an oil wrench or strap, a box wrench to fit your oil drain plug, and a plastic catch bin. Some of the newer cartridge style filters have a large plastic nut on top that you may have to fit with a special socket at the auto parts store. Purchase a shop light to check the undercarriage of your car.

You will also need a set of appropriately rated 2 or 3-ton jack stands to sustain the weight of the vehicle. A similarly-rated hydraulic floor jack should only be used to briefly lift and lower the vehicle.

Avoid cheap canister filters that lack a bypass valve. If these filters clog up or fail for any reason, your engine may sustain damage or possibly seize. Even if the oil flow is only slightly obfuscated, you will have to deal with low oil pressure and premature wear. The cartridge style filters differ more by material than design and should present none of these issues.

Always make sure that your car is turned off and cold before you check the oil level or drain the oil. Choose the appropriate weight of oil for your vehicle. If you live in a colder climate you will want an oil that starts with a 5 or 0. The second number is the viscosity of the oil after it heats up. Honey has a high viscosity, water very low. If you want the oil to stick to your cylinder walls and bearings as a thick protector in hot weather, buy an oil with a larger number at the end like 15w 40.

The rest is 12 simple steps:

1) Remove the oil filler cap to speed up the oil flow.

2) Loosen the oil pan plug to drain into a suitable collection bin.

3) Then, finally remove and replace the filter.

4) Lube the new filter and seals with a little bit of fresh motor oil.

5) Hand-tighten the oil pan lug nut and oil filter canister with appropriately-sized box wrenches until snug. Be sure to use a fresh copper washer if there is no re-useable rubber washer on the oil drain plug.

6) Use a funnel to fill your engine with the factory specified number of quarts.

7) Replace oil filler cap.

8) Rev the engine a few times to raise the oil pressure and squeeze out any air pockets.

9) Then, shut off the engine and check the level again.

10) If everything looks good, clean the underbelly with brake clean and check for leaks.

11) Remove your jack stands and lower the car.

12) Take the car for a test-drive.

If there are no leaks after you return, you may simply have to reset a service light. It is a good idea to rotate your tires and check tire pressure when you are doing oil changes. A general inspection of the overall health of your vehicle can prevent major problems down the line. You are now ready to change the oil on any vehicle like a pro!