How to Change Oil


Check your oil levels before changing the oil.
Learn how to check your oil levels
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Oil Change 101

What’s an oil change, and why is it important to me?


An oil change (and filter change) is one of the most common forms of preventative maintenance services for vehicles. Changing your vehicle’s oil and filter is simple, but critical to the operational longevity of your car.


How often do you need to change your oil and oil filter?


You should change your oil as often as your vehicle manufacturer recommends, as all cars are different. Typically, this information is in the owner’s manual, or in a separate maintenance schedule (which is typically included with the owner’s manual).


For decades, all cars needed an oil change every 3000 miles, and many cars still on the road do need that interval; and some new ones do as well. However, that interval has been increasing to 5,000, to 10,000, and even higher in some cars. For that reason, you need to refer to your manufacturers recommendations to understand how often your car needs an oil change.


If you’re fortunate enough, your vehicle will have an oil life monitor. For many years, manufacturers have said, it’s not about the number of miles your drive, but the nature of those miles. If you drive in certain extreme conditions, you might need to change your oil more frequently.

Those conditions include:


  • Lots of short trips, or operating primarily in stop and go traffic
  • Sustained high-speed driving
  • Extreme high temperatures
  • Extreme cold temperatures
  • Towing/Hauling

These kinds of usages will degrade the oil faster, and hence require a more frequent cadence of oil changes.


The good thing about an oil life monitor is that it actually monitors how you are driving, and it makes sure you change the oil only when you need to.


Things You'll Need

Engine Oil
engine oil image

Engine oil lubricates internal moving engine parts, reduces friction and helps keep the engine cool.

Oil Filter
oil filter image

The oil filter helps remove impurities from the oil (water, dirt, metal and particles) that could otherwise harm your engine.

Step by Step: Oil Change Instructions

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  1. Use a car floor jack to raise the vehicle off the ground using the manufacturer's recommended lift points to avoid damaging the undercarriage.

    When using a jack, exercise caution to ensure no accidents. Always secure the vehicle with jack stands, ramps or cribs. We recommend installing wheel chocks to the opposite end being lifted to prevent the vehicle from rolling.

  2. Place a container under the oil pan to catch the old oil.
  3. Remove the drain plug and let the old oil collect in the pan.
  4. Clean the drain plug and reinstall it.

    If the drain plug gasket appears damaged, replace it.

  5. Remove the old oil filter.

    Place the new spin-on filter onto the base and tighten until the seal ring connects with the base, then give it a half turn. Be careful: Overtightening can split the gasket or distort the filter.

  6. Wipe the base of the oil filter clean.
  7. Reinstall the new oil filter.

    Place the new spin-on filter onto the base and tighten until the seal ring connects with the base, then give it a half turn. Be careful: Overtightening can split the gasket or distort the filter.

  8. Make sure the oil pan drain plug is reinstalled.
  9. Fill the engine with new oil.

    Be sure to use the manufacturer-recommended grade and viscosity of engine oil.

  10. Dispose of old oil responsibly.

How Can I Check My Engine Oil Level?


Maintaining the right engine oil level is extremely important. When engine oil is low, you risk overheating the remaining oil, resulting in diminished lubrication. When the engine oil level is too high, it can lead to oil foaming, which also results in reduced lubrication and engine protection. Here is how to check your engine oil level:


Step by Step: Oil Check Instructions

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  1. Turn off the vehicle and let it sit still for five to 10 minutes; your owner's manual may provide guidance on how long or whether to check oil level when the engine is hot or cold.

    This allows the oil sitting on top of the engine to drain into the drain pan.

  2. Open the hood and locate the oil dipstick; reference your owner's manual for exact location.

    The dipstick typically has a yellow handle and, in many cases, an oil lamp icon on the handle.

  3. Pull the dipstick out using the handle and wipe any oil residue off the stick. Re-dip the stick until it's fully seated, and pull out to see the oil level.

    Wiping it clean ensures you're measuring the accurate oil level and not any residue that may falsely indicate higher levels.

  4. Check the oil level to make sure it's in the right operating range, which will be indicated on the stick.

    If it's low, top off with the manufacturer's recommended oil.

  5. Additional Tips:
    1. Check the engine oil level during every other fuel fill-up.
    2. Some cars don't have dipsticks. Instead, oil level is digitally displayed in the instrument panel.