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How to Change Your Car's Motor Oil
By Stephen Bucaro
First, let's answer question; Why should you change your own oil? Because you can save time and money. You don't have to wait in line at service garage or quick oil change shop. For ten bucks you can get best oil and a brand new oil filter. And, it's so easy to do that you could train a monkey to do it.
Changing your cars motor oil is a very simple three-step process: 1. Drain old oil. 2. Replace oil filter. 3. Add new oil. But before we go through steps, lets answer a few basic questions.
When should I change my oil?
Look in your cars owners manual. Most auto manufacturers recommend changing motor oil every 6,000 miles for normal service, or every 3,000 miles for severe service. I change my oil every 6,000 miles, and my engines run like new when I trade my vehicles in with well over 100,000 miles on them. One thing that I do is change a new cars oil after first 300 mile break-in period. Then, after that, I change oil every 6,000 miles.
What kind of oil should I use?
You are not going to save money by using an off-brand oil because your engine will wear out sooner. Use oil that meets American Pertroleum Institute (API) classification SL. I use Valvoline, Quaker State, Pennzoil, or Havoline brand oil. These quality oils contain additives that make them work better and longer.
If you are changing your oil just before winter, use SAE 10W30 weight oil. This number means oil will have a thin 10 weight viscosity when engine is cold, helping engine to start easier, and then oil will thicken to 30 weight viscosity when engine warms up, protecting engine better. If you are changing oil just before summer, use SAE 10W40 weight oil. The extra 40 weight viscosity will protect your engine better when it's hot.
What's First Step?
First let your engine cool off. Modern engines run at close to 300 degrees (F) and hot oil will definitely give you a severe burn. You shouldn't have to jack your car up unless you have some kind of ground hugging sports car or low rider. Almost all cars have enough space underneath to reach under and change engine oil.
Step 1: Drain old oil.
Locate oil drain plug and place a pan under it to catch oil. With a box wrench, remove oil plug.
Note for newbies: To remove drain plug, turn it counter-clockwise.
- If you have a GM dual-overhead-cam EcoTec engine you may have a difficult time locating drain plug on all that aluminum.
When oil stops draining, reinstall drain plug.
Note for newbies: To replace drain plug turn it clockwise. Start plug with your fingers. If it seems even slightly hard to turn, back it out! You are crossing threads.
Step 2. Replace oil filter.
Move your oil catch pan under oil filter. Using an oil filter wrench to get it started, remove oil filter. (newbies: counter-clockwise, and you will get some oil on your hand.)
- A strap type oil filter wrench is best kind to use. A socket type oil filter tool is used with a ratchet just like a regular socket. The problem with socket type is that it tends to get stuck on filter. Use socket type tool if you don't have enough clearance around oil filter to use strap type.
With your finger put a thin coat of oil on new filter's gasket to make it seal better.