It has become obvious to me that more and more men consider themselves incapable of working on their cars. The constant refrain I hear when a friend visits me in my garage is “How do you know how do this stuff? I wouldn’t even know where to start.” This comes as if I have some advanced engineering degree or have been building racing engines from raw ore since I was seven rather than being the hack hobbyist mechanic that I am. The truth is I was not taught by my father how do this, or have been doing it for long. Pretty much every project I embark on is new to me and teaches me something. Anyone can do a custom Porsche backdate or outfit a motorcycle for off-roading, you just have to start by picking up a wrench, watching some YouTube videos, and being willing to be wrong or break things. And it all starts with learning how to do a DIY oil change.
We’ve teamed up with AutoZone to walk you through how to do an oil change on literally any production vehicle (I’m daring you to point out some obscure Citroen on our Facebook page, and yes I’m aware of Tesla)
When do to an Oil Change:
The common rule of thumb is to change your oil every 3 months or 3000, whichever comes first. For most modern cars, this is simply no longer true. Many cars produced since 2000 can go 7000 miles or more without a change thanks to synthetic oils. Check your cars manual or simply google when your car’s scheduled oil changes are, but you can’t go wrong assuming 3 months and doing it early.
What you’ll need:
Jack and jack stands
Oil pan or empty bucket
New oil filter and possibly a washer for the drain plug
Here the process is always the same. Simply –
Find and watch YouTube videos or read forums showing the process on your particular vehicle
Drive your car over to a friend who has tools or run your car until the engine is warmed up but not hot enough to burn you. Or burn yourself – your call really.
Jack up the front of your car and place it on jack stands
Place the oil pan or bucket underneath your engine
Locate and remove the big, obvious bolt sticking out of the lowest point of your engine. It won’t look like any other bolts around it. Any YouTube videos or diagrams should show you.
Drain all the warm oil into your pan or container
When the flow out has reduced to a trickle, you can remove your oil filter. This will likely be a brightly colored cylinder on the side or bottom of the engine. These sometimes require a special wrench to remove, but can often just be done by hand
Once the oil is done flowing out of engine, simply reinstall the bolt (often times with a new washer) just to snug and install the new filter – first rub fresh oil along the rubber gasket of the new filter to aid in creating a tight seal.
Fill up the car with the required type and amount of oil (again in your manual or online forums)
Drive to AutoZone to dispose of the used oil for free, then check your new filter and drain plug for leaks and the level on your dipstick to ensure the oil level is within range
Assume a smug face now that you’ve successfully done your first oil change
Doing your own oil change is the first step towards mechanical proficiency. Yes, it will likely cost you the same amount of money and time as it would to just take your car in to a oil change stand, but the sense of accomplishment, bragging rights, and empowerment are certainly not the same. There are generally only two reasons I hear for not tackling an oil change yourself – lack of desire and fear. While I can’t help with the first one, the latter should certainly be solved by the list above.
To further help nudge you along, AutoZone is hooking up FactoryTwoFour readers with a sweet coupon to save you some cash on this project, as well as giving away a $100 gift card!