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Changing Oil and Filter

By Linda Cottin |

Changing the oil and filter in your car is an easy way to save money while prolonging the life of your vehicle. Most cars and trucks will run better if the oil is changed every 5000 miles. Refer to the car owner’s manual for the recommended oil type and capacity. You will probably need four to six quarts of oil and a new oil filter to get the job done right.

Step 1: With a warm engine on a flat surface, turn off the car, put on the parking brake and block the tires with bricks or wood. Raise the hood of the car and unscrew the oil fill cap. Place it in a safe spot before proceeding.

Step 2: Spread some news paper under the car to catch oil drips and crawl beneath the car. Center an oil drain pan beneath the oil drain plug. The drain plug looks like a large nut and is located on the lowest point of the underside of the engine. If the engine is warm, the metal around the oil plug should also be warm. Be sure not to confuse the oil drain plug with the transmission plug.

Step 3: Use a closed end wrench or socket to loosen the oil drain plug. To avoid dropping the drain plug into the oil pan, loosen it with the wrench and then unscrew the plug by hand.

Step 4: While the oil is draining, use an oil filter wrench to remove the oil filter. The filter is full of warm oil, so be careful when removing it. Dump the excess oil into the drain pan and set the filter aside, right side up.

Step 5: Use a rag to wipe off the threads where the oil filter screwed onto. Dip you finger in the oil pan and use the old oil to lubricate the rubber gasket on the bottom side of the new oil filter. Hand tighten the new filter into place. If desired you can use the filter wrench to give it one last turn, but hand tightening is usually sufficient.

Step 6: Once the oil has finished dripping out of the engine, hand thread the oil drain plug back into place. Use the wrench or socket to give it one last turn, but don’t over tighten it or you will have trouble getting it off next time.

Step 7: Refill the empty oil reservoir with the manufacturer’s recommended amount of oil. Use a funnel to avoid any spills.

Step 8: Replace the oil cap and close the hood of the car. Start the vehicle and let it run for about five minutes. Check for any oil leaks. Tighten the drain plug or oil filter if necessary.

Step 9: Pick up your tools, dispose of the newspaper and rags, and take your used oil and filter to the recycling center.

Changing your car oil on a regular basis is the most important thing you can do to prolong the life of your vehicle.