How to do an Oil Change

One of the most important things you can do to keep your car in the best condition possible is to change your motor oil and filter. When it comes time for that needed motor oil change, you can take it to a service station, quick lube or car dealer, or you can do it yourself. Changing your own oil can be more convenient and less expensive than taking your vehicle to a local express lube shop. You might even find working on your car is fun. For other thoughts on this subject you can do a hey Alexa or hey Siri search on Google.

The first step is to consult your owner’s manual to find out the correct oil and filter to buy. For the oil you can buy regular or synthetic motor oil, for the filter get the correct specification and part number and buy the best one. To get this show on the road you will need a few things:



  • A jack and something to safely support the raised vehicle or ramps so that you can get the vehicle far enough off the ground so that you can comfortably, and safely, work underneath it. You will also want a large piece of cardboard, or something similar, to lay on when you are under the vehicle. It won’t take long for you to figure this out. Never get underneath a car supported only by a jack; always use a jack stand.
  • A box, open end, or ratchet / socket of the correct size for removing the drain plug on the oil pan. 9/16”, 5/8”, or ¾” are usually the ones that work, although many vehicles now use metric plugs. Some, like newer Ford Mustangs use a plastic plug and O-Ring arrangement that can e removed by hand. See what you will need before you start.
  • Something to catch the oil. A dedicated drain pan works best. Then you will need something to hold the old oil, the container from the new oil would work well. A funnel and an assortment of paper towels and rags and nitrile gloves will be most helpful.
  • Run the engine for a few minutes to warm up the oil so that it flows freely then locate the oil pan and drain plug. Identify the drain plug, spread the newspaper out and place the oil pan below then loosen the drain plug with the wrench by turning it counterclockwise. Now remove the plug slowly by hand and let the motor oil drain out. Pay attention, the oil may be hot. Carefully clean the drain plug, many of them have a magnet on the end for collecting fine metal particles and you do not want that to go back into your clean oil. Once the oil stream slows to a drip, reinstall the drain plug by hand then use the wrench and tighten to the manufacturer’s torque specification – do not overtighten.
  • Slide the oil pan under the oil filter as this will also contain oil. There are various ways to remove the filter, one of the best is Tech Team’s #702 Oil Filter / Plier Wrench which will allow you to solidly grip any oil filter and turn it counterclockwise to remove it. Now install the new filter by first applying some oil to the face of the gasket then thread it on to the fitting on the engine and tighten hand tight – do not over tighten or use a wrench.
  • Now remove the oil filler cap, insert the funnel and add the new oil. Run the engine for 1-2 minutes then use the dip stick to check the level and add oil as needed. The job is done and all you need to do is check for leaks, clean up, and dispose of the used oil in an environmentally safe manner.


Add the new motor oil

It’s now time to fill the engine with new motor oil. Find out which oil is right for your vehicle with our product selector. Keep in mind that the motor oil you use should be the recommended grade and amount as identified earlier in the owner’s manual.

Loosen the oil-filler cap and pour your motor oil into the tank. Using a funnel will help you avoid spilling. When finished, replace the oil cap and wipe away any spilled motor oil. Start your engine and run it for a minute to allow the new motor oil to circulate thoroughly.

You’re almost done. But don’t drive off yet, because you need to check the oil level. To do this, turn off the car and remove and clean the dipstick.

Insert and remove it once more, this time checking that the oil has the correct reading. Screw the cap back on and give yourself a pat on the back.

Clean up and recycle your motor oil

You’ve completed the task; now it’s time to clean up. Pour the old motor oil from the pan into a used oil container – or if you have to, an empty milk jug – and place the old oil filter in a plastic bag.

The best way to dispose of motor oil is to recycle it. This is easy to do because many service stations and quick lubes will accept used motor oil and used oil filters at no charge. You can find recycling locations in your area at Also, if you ask your local government or recycling coordinator, they’ll be able to tell you if your oil filter and oil can be recycled with your trash pickup.

Finally, throw the newspaper and dirty rags away. You and your set of wheels are good to go.

Write down the date you performed the oil change and the amount of miles the car had so you know when your next change is due. Don’t forget to change your motor oil on a regular basis.


If you’re unsure what kind of oil you should use or how often you should change it, refer to the technical specifications or service section of your owner’s manual. In this six-step video guide, we will walk you through a standard oil change—in this case on an Acura TSX, but the process is virtually identical whether you drive a Hyundai, Hummer, or anything else.

Before you even start this process, consult your owner’s manual (or the trusty internet) to determine exactly how much oil you will need to replace what you drain. And you’ll also need an oil filter. So you’ll be making a trip to an auto-parts store or a big-box retail outlet to get what you need. While you’re there, you’ll want to pick up an oil-filter wrench and the proper size wrench for your oil drain plug if you don’t already have those. And you’ll want some gloves to keep your hands clean; old-fashioned latex medical gloves work fine. Now you’re ready to go. Follow these steps to change your own oil:

Step 1: Jack It Up, Open It Up


First, you’ll want to lift the car high enough to give yourself room to work under it. Whether you use a hoist, ramps, or jack stands, make sure you are being absolutely safe. Never work under a car that is held up only by a floor jack. We raised our subject vehicle on the lift in the Car and Driver test garage, so you could see what we were doing. Most modern cars are fitted with a plastic undertray to both improve aerodynamics and protect vital components on the underside of the engine. In order to access the oil pan and oil filter on the TSX, the cover needs to be removed; most undertrays are held on with a mixture of bolts, screws, or plastic clips that can be unfastened with basic hand tools. Before step two, be sure to examine the area for oil leaks. If any are found, consider having your vehicle inspected by a mechanic.

Step 2: Unplug It, Drain It


Situate your oil receptacle—five-gallon bucket, oil drain pan (available at an auto-parts store), oil reservoir, or any other sizable liquid-holding container—in such a way that the oil will drain into it without getting all over the ground or otherwise making a mess. Remember, there will be a lot of oil: Most cars have at least a gallon in their crankcase, and some a lot more. Remove the drain plug by loosening it (counterclockwise) with the proper wrench and unscrewing it. Hold on to the drain plug as you remove it; the oil will start pouring out as you pull it away from the oil pan. Allow the engine to drain for five minutes or until the flow of oil has slowed to a trickle.

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Step 3: Off With the Old Filter


Find the oil filter. It’s the softball-sized cylindrical component screwed onto the engine (though some engines have a housing that you slip a filter cartridge into). Using your hand or an oil-filter wrench (you’ll likely need the latter), loosen the oil filter (turn counterclockwise) enough that the oil starts to come out of the top and drip down into your receptacle. Wait until the flow subsides and finish removing the filter. Before installing your new filter, be sure to verify that the old oil-filter gasket—a thin rubber O-ring—wasn’t left behind. This is particularly important; if the old gasket is not removed, the new filter won’t seal properly, which typically ends with all of your new, fresh oil leaking onto the ground within minutes of startup, potentially starving the engine of oil and leading to catastrophe. It is good practice to wipe down any oil-covered surfaces before you replace the drain plug and oil filter.

Step 4: Drain Plug in, Filter On


Replace the drain plug and tighten it until it’s snug, but not too much: Overtightening can cause damage to the oil pan and drain plug. Put some effort into tightening it, but not all of your strength. Some manufacturers have a torque spec that you can follow, using a torque wrench. In any case, do not try to rip off the head of the drain plug. Certain vehicles use a washer behind the drain plug that must be replaced when you reinstall the plug (check your owner’s manual to see if this washer needs to be replaced). Next, take your new oil filter and apply a light coating of oil (from a dab on the end of your finger) all around the rubber gasket on the top of the filter. This will help create a proper seal as you tighten the filter. The same rule applies when installing the filter: Don’t screw too hard, but rather turn it until it’s “hand tight” and then just a bit more, so it’s snug.

Step 5: Fill It Back Up with Oil


Once you have replaced the oil filter and drain plug, reinstall your undertray and lower the car back to the ground. Open the hood and remove the oil cap, which should have an oil-can symbol on it. Using a funnel, fill the engine with the manufacturer’s indicated volume of oil.

Step 6: Check the Oil Level, Check for Leaks


Finally, after waiting a few minutes for the oil to settle into the pan, use the dipstick to verify that your oil is at the proper level. Checking your oil is simple: Pull the dipstick from its tube, wipe away all oil with a paper towel, reinsert the dipstick, remove the dipstick, and confirm that the oil is lined up with the full marking on the tip of the dipstick. Finally, start the vehicle and let it idle and warm up; check for leaks under the vehicle and around the oil filter.

Congratulations! You’ve changed your oil and saved a bunch of money. Now, doesn’t that feel great?

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