How to change your car’s oil yourself – Don’t waste your money | CarTailz

Changing your car’s oil is a necessary part of maintaining your vehicle. The liquid lubricates the engine and ensures that the combustion process continues to function. Over time and use, the oil will degrade and become contaminated with dirt and metal particles, making it less effective.

With the right tools and a little know-how, you can change your oil at home — for a lot less than even the cheapest mechanic. While not a complicated process, minor glitches can lead to problems that require costly fixes. It can also get a little messy, so here’s everything you need to change your car’s oil smoothly.


Equipment you need for the best (and cleanest) experience:

  • safety goggles
  • Chemical resistant gloves
  • jacks or ramps
  • wheel chocks
  • Oil filter wrench and sockets
  • oil pan
  • Plans
  • funnel
  • rags
  • New oil and filter (note what type of oil your car requires)
  • New drain plug gasket


If you have just driven your car, do not change the oil immediately after stopping as it will be hot. Let it cool down with the hood open for about 30 minutes before you start. Also, if your car has been cold, Napa recommends letting it run for about 3 minutes before changing the oil, as warmer oil drains more easily.

Wear goggles and gloves to protect against splashes, and you’re ready to get to work.


Since you will need to jack up your vehicle to change the oil, make sure you are parked on a level surface. If you use the road, make sure you are not breaking local laws by changing your oil there. Also, be careful to work on sloping driveways; You’ll probably be safer if you just get the job done in the garage whenever possible.

Use a jack to raise the front of the car. Wheel chocks are also recommended to keep tires from rolling while you work. Open the hood and pull out the engine oil dipstick as this will make it easier to drain the oil.

Spread your drape under the car. Loosen the drain plug and allow the oil that flows out to be caught in the drip pan. Let it drain for a few minutes. Wipe the pan threads and oil drain plug with an old rag if reusing. Just make sure there are no signs of wear. If not, replace it with a new plug.


Oil filters usually bolt on very tightly so a good oil filter wrench comes in handy as it gives you a good grip even if the filter is greasy and slippery. The oil filter can be under the engine, screwed in on top of the engine, or a cartridge that you can access from the top of the engine. If it’s the former, place the drain pan under the car to catch the oil.

The best oil filter wrench is strong, durable and comfortable to grip so you can get the job done without slipping your hand. Make sure you buy the right size for the filter you’re removing, or get a set of two wrenches that fit multiple filters. If you need a wrench, check out our expert-reviewed picks of the best oil filter wrenches.

Loosen the oil filter enough for oil to come out and drip into your reservoir. Before installing your new filter, make sure that the thin rubber o-ring is ready to be put on the new one, otherwise it will not seal properly. Apply a light coat of fresh oil to the new filter gasket to ensure smooth insertion.

Retighten the drain plug by hand. You shouldn’t overtighten it or serious damage may result, so finger tight or a little tighter should do the trick.


Next, add fresh oil using a funnel to prevent spilling. Pro Tip: Pour the oil with the spout of the bottle facing up as this will allow proper airflow into the bottle and will prevent oil splatters from exploding on your engine.

Recycle the old oil by pouring it into a large jug and taking it to a location that accepts used motor oil. Most AutoZone locations will accept used oil, but you can visit to find a location near you that recycles.

Be sure to re-tighten all caps by hand, including the dipstick. Close the hood and remove the jack stands. Run the car for a few minutes to ensure it is working properly. Check around the oil filter and under the car to make sure nothing is leaking. Once you’re clear, you’re good to go!

Leave a Comment