Changing Your Engine Oil

Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated May 28, 2010)

Changing your engine oil is an absolute necessity. Regular oil changes can prevent serious engine damage to your car or truck. You should change your engine oil every 3,000 miles or 3 months, whichever comes first. You could pay someone to do this job for you, or you can do it yourself.


  • 5 quarts engine oil
  • Oil filter
  • Jack
  • Jack stands
  • Funnel
  • Sealable oil pan
  • Rags
  • Mechanic's dolly
  • Kitty litter
  • Oil filter wrench
  • Complete socket set


  1. Preparation. Allow your car to run for 10 to 15 minutes so the oil can warm up. You don't have to do this, but it makes draining your oil much easier. Make sure that you have your car on a level surface, as this is also going to allow your oil to drain easier. Jack up the front tires of your car just like you would if you were changing the brakes or tires. You might want to place the new oil on the hood so you don't forget to refill the oil when you are all done.
  2. Drain. Crawl under or use a mechanics dolly to slide under the car. Locate the engine oil drain plug, which is typically located near front of the car, toward the center. If you can't find it, then check either the appropriate repair manual, or your owner's manual. Place the sealable oil pan (opened) under the drain. Use a socket wrench to loosen the drain plug and finish removing it by hand using a rag or cloth. The oil is going to be somewhere between warm and hot and the rag will help protect your hand from the heat and absorb some of the oil. Allow the oil to drain, repositioning the pan as necessary. Wipe off the drain plug and the drain and then reinsert the drain plug. Tighten first by hand then with the socket wrench. Do not over tighten.
  3. Filter. Reposition the oil pan so that it is underneath the oil filter. This is usually located to one side of the engine. Remove the old oil filter with the oil filter wrench, allowing any oil that comes out to drip into the oil pan. Once the oil has finished dripping, take a rag and wipe the area where the filter was mounted and make sure that the old rubber seal is not stuck on the engine.
  4. Replace. Lightly coat the rubber seal of your new filter with some of the new oil that you are going to put into the car. Attach the new filter by hand, using the oil filter wrench if you need to, but hand tight is good enough. Locate the oil filler cap near the top of your engine and remove it. Using a funnel, pour new oil into the engine. The average vehicle takes about 4 or 5 quarts of oil, but I would start checking after the third quart, just to make sure you don't overfill.
  5. Clean. Replace the oil filler cap and if you have any spills, use kitty litter to help clean up the spilled oil. Take your old oil to any auto parts store and they can dispose of it there for you properly.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...


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