Change Your Oil

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Take your car to any local Jiffy or Grease Monkey, and for around $30, you’ve got clean oil, washer fluid, steering fluid, brake fluid, and crystal clear windows.

For this project, you will have to invest in the proper tools and supplies and use your own time. But you’ll end up feeling thrifty, tough and a little sexy with that dirt under your nails. Also, think about the shop talk you can more accurately fake now.


Name-brand oil, such as Mobil, Pennzoil, Castrol, etc. (how much and what grade can be found in owner’s manual)
A new oil filter (see vehicle’s owner’s manual for requirements)
3/8-drive socket set (metric will work for both)
A combination wrench set (closed- and open-ended, metric)
An oil filter wrench
Two jack stands
A pan or bucket to catch the old oil
Two one gallon plastic containers with screw on lids – empty ones that is.
A funnel
One quart Ziploc baggie
A lot of old newspapers and several dirty rags
Four large bricks, or rocks.

Say goodbye to your manicure, and put on some clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.

Find a locale that will take your dirty oil and oil filter, sans fee. Check with your Jiffy Lube. Can’t dump it just anywhere, lest you be fined an exorbitant fee by the EPA or feel like a terrible person.

Cover up your hair like Rosie the Riveter. You don’t want oil in there.

Get yourself a nice little work area, and bring all the tools.

Step One

Find a flat space upon which you can perform your delicate surgery. Angles will throw off your precision, potentially cause oil to get all over the place, and generally just make things difficult.


Step Two

Drive your car around a bit to heat up the oil, and make it easier to deal with.


Step Three

Park in a flat spot.


Step Four

Turn off car, and set the parking brake. Block the tires with bricks to prevent any accidents.


Step Five

Put on your work suit, line up your tools, and get ready to get drrrrrrty.


Step Six

Slide under the car (YES!) and find the oil drain plug. The drain plug may be labeled “Drain Plug,” but if you see no such sign, just look for a big nut with a washer underneath it close to the floor. If you can’t slide under your car, you must put your car on a jack stand. This is not the same as a tire jack. Supporting a car with only a tire jack is EXTREMELY dangerous. Please, use a jack stand. Anyway, read your operator’s manual and find out where the proper placement for jack stands are on your car. You CAN use a tire jack and lift up the car on one side, place the stand under its appropriate tab, and then repeat the process for the other side.


Step Seven

Pull out your socket wrenches and find one that fits over the nut. Place socket wrench over nut, turn socket counter clockwise (righty tighty, lefty loosey, and you’re trying to loosey). Crank it slightly loose. Not too loose, because you’ve got to get out from under there before oil is all over the place.


Step Eight

Line the floor with newspaper. Give yourself ample coverage. Get your drain pan or bucket and place it under the recently loosened drain plug. Check your drain plug and notice the angle at which it sticks out. If it’s out to the side, instead of straight down, the oil will shoot out sideways. So, adjust pan placement accordingly. Loosen the plug, set it aside and let the oil drain. It should take about two minutes.


Step Nine

Okay, now find your oil filter wrench, and slip it onto your socket wrench. The OFW is a round piece that aids gripping. Since it only grips in one direction, place it in such a way that it pulls counter-clockwise. Loosen the oil filter and turn counter clockwise. Pull it out by hand, being careful not to spill on yourself, and pour the content out into the drain pan. Put the used oil filter aside. Finally, slide out from under the car, pop the hood, and remove the oil filter cap. Allow oil to drain for a while.


Step Ten

Get your new oil filter. Read the instructions on the can to learn how to properly deal with it. Dip a little finger into the drain pan and smear some of that onto the bottom of the filter. Then, get a rag and wipe up and around the area under the car where the oil filter fits. This is just to ensure good placement of your filter. Next, take your filter and screw it into place. Put your oil filter wrench over your socket wrench and tighten that up.


Step Eleven

Now, grab your washer and drain plug (the nut you set aside in step seven), and tighten those back into place with your socket wrench.


Step Twelve

Grab plastic bottles, your funnel and a Ziploc bag. Place funnel atop of opened bottle. Pour oil from pan/bucket, into funnel, which will direct wayward oil down into lovely contained space. Tighten cap on bottle, clean funnel.


Step Thirteen

Pop hood (if not already), find oil cap, uncap oil cap. Put the funnel into the oil container in your car and pour in the amount of oil recommended by your manufacturer. Use dipstick to check oil level. Twist cap back on.


Step Fourteen

Start engine, and look for leaks. Take your used materials to the nearest oil recycling center and dispose of them there.


Step Fifteen

Maintenance: Do it every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, or every three months, whichever comes first.

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