Tips for Changing Your Engine Oil at Home

Feb 23, 2016 by Cedric (Driver Weekly)

You know as a car owner that you have to change your oil on a regular basis. For each make and model, your owner’s manual will let you know how frequently the oil should be changed to ensure your engine continues to run smoothly. While most people take their car to a mechanic to have the oil the changed, oil changes can be quite expensive and if you’re mechanically inclined you can do it yourself at home. If you plan on doing it yourself, then keep these tips in mind to prevent mistakes.

Make Sure You Understand the Process

If it is your first time changing the oil at home, then take some time beforehand to make sure you know what you have to do. Reading the instructions and watching videos online is a perfect way to familiarize yourself with the process. Only change the oil if you feel confident in doing so. There isn’t any shame in taking the car to a mechanic, but doing the job yourself can save you some money. If you are friends with a mechanic, you can even ask them for advice. Just be comfortable with what you need to do and work carefully the first time around.

Gather the Supplies

Before you start changing the oil in your car, you will need to gather your supplies. You don’t want to be rustling through your garage with greasy hands halfway through the process. Make sure you get a torque wrench, a socket or wrench with an extension, plenty of oil, an oil filter, a car jack or ramp, and a drain pan for collecting the old oil. Oddly enough, a vinyl shower curtain liner can also help out. Spread this over the floor of your garage or on your driveway—wherever you will be working. They are a great choice since they are cheap and cover a large area.

Buy the Right Oil and Filter

When you change your oil, you will most likely change the oil filter at the same time. It used to be that all oil filters were nearly identical, but today they are different. Cheap filters simply don’t last. Instead, make sure you opt for a higher-quality filter since it will last significantly longer and only cost a little bit more. You should be able to use an economy filter if you truly change your oil and filter every 3,000 miles, but if you don’t want the extra hassle, pay the extra dollars.

Get the Engine the Right Temperature

When changing the oil in your car, you want it to be at the ideal temperature, which is slightly warm but not burning. If your engine is cold, then turn it on for a few minutes so the oil heats up a little. If you were just driving and the engine is hot, wait until it cools down so you don’t get burnt. Prepare to wait a half hour or more after driving before it’s safe to change the oil. After that it’s time to get down to work.

Keep these simple tips in mind before you change your oil and save yourself the trip to the auto shop. There’s nothing like a little elbow grease to make your car feel appreciated and save some money at the same time.

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