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There are some procedures by which a car owner is measured. The oil change is one, and if you want to call yourself an enthusiast or weekend warrior, you had better know the ins and outs of replacing your car’s motor oil.
Modern vehicles typically make this operation straightforward. There was a time when locating the oil filler meant taking parts off on certain marques, or reaching the oil filter required experience in body contortion for you to have any chance of reaching between the bell housing and exhaust headers. Folks just don’t have any grit these days …
Create a Workspace
Before you turn any wrenches, you want to be situated in your workspace. A garage will typically be the choice locale, but you can also work in a driveway or just about any open space where you’re not squeamish about a little spilled oil. Make sure you pull your call fully out into your driveway if working outside. The last thing you want if for your garage door to fall on you, or heaven forbid, your vehicle. This is more common than you’d think. In fact, there are 30,000 injuries a year because of falling doors. Don’t feel like it can’t happen to you.
You’re also going to need some tools: an oil catch, set of sockets or at least the socket to remove your car’s oil plug, some old rags and an oil filter wrench. If you’re working on a car as opposed to a truck, you’ll need jack stands and a jack as well. Be sure you locate and ascertain the proper oil filter for your vehicle before you get the job underway.
Drain Your Old Oil
Once you’ve got your workspace arranged, it’s time to drain the old oil from your car. You don’t want to have a hot engine to work on, but you will have an easier time getting all the oil from your motor out if it’s got a little heat in it. Our suggestion is to let the car sit for several hours and cool off, and then run the motor for three to four minutes to make the oil viscous.
With the prep work done, lay down a drop cloth beneath your car and locate the oil plug. Situate your catch can just beneath the plug and then remove it, making sure you have an easy way to get your hands and face out of the way quickly. Allow several minutes for all the oil to make its way out of the motor.
Complete the Oil Change
Next comes changing the oil filter. This can be a bit of a hassle, but needs to be done to ensure the benefits of your new oil are realized. Check out a forum or manufacturers’ notes to find the filter on your car. Use your filter wrench to pull the old filter, but when you replace the filter don’t use the wrench. Hand tighten it instead. Using an oil filter wrench when installing a new filter will overtighten it and make it impossible to remove.
Rub fresh oil around the seal of the new filter and install it by hand. Next, remove the oil filler cap from your car’s valve cover and pour in that sweet, sweet new oil. Make sure you’ve checked on forums and in in maintenance manuals to see exactly how much oil to add, and do not overfill the oil pan as this can cause engine damage.
All done? Great, you can now enjoy the extra 25 horsepower that change of oil netted you. Just kidding. Changing the oil in your car doesn’t make it any faster, but we promise you it’ll feel like it did. Just imagine if you were to wash it and change the oil in the same day. That’d practically be like adding nitrous.