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How to Change Your Oil

Skip a trip to the quick lube shop

Changing your vehicle’s oil and oil filter is key to keeping your vehicle running at peak performance. Luckily, this is a maintenance job that you can easily tackle on your own.

Your car’s oil lubricates the engine and absorbs heat while the oil filter removes dirt and contaminants from the motor oil, preventing the particles from reaching your vehicle’s engine where they could cause damage. Don’t wait for your oil light to come on; following a routine maintenance program will keep your vehicle running smoothly for years to come.

How often do you need an oil change?


Your vehicle’s manual will give recommendations on how often to change your oil and filter. Your driving habits have an impact on how often you perform an oil change. If you do lots of short trips or city driving, you might need to change your oil and filter more often than someone who does mostly highway driving.

Gather the needed tools and supplies

Before you jump into the job, make sure you have all the necessary tools and supplies. You’ll need the following:


Get your car ready

If the engine is hot, let it cool for 30 minutes before beginning. If the engine is cold, run it for about five minutes to get the oil warm.

Park your car on a level surface and set the parking brake. Use the blocks of wood and put one in front of one of the rear tires and the other in the back to ensure that the car doesn’t move.

Use the jack to raise your car and use jack stands to support the vehicle. Never get under a vehicle that’s only supported by a jack. 


Find the oil filter and drain plug

Look around the sides and rear of the engine. You are looking for a round object, about the size of a can of soup, sticking out of the lower part of the engine. Note that the oil filter and drain plug may be located far apart from each other.

Now that you have found the oil filter, you need to decide how you are going to get to it. You may be able to reach it from the top but on some vehicles, the only way to get to it is from underneath. If you don’t have enough clearance, you’ll need ramps to boost the car up.


Drain the oil

Place the oil drain pan under the drain plug. To help the oil drain smoothly, remove the oil filler cap. Using an appropriate size wrench, remove the drain plug. Slowly remove the plug, keeping your hands away from the stream of oil. Allow the oil to drain completely.

Once the oil is all drained, clean  the drain plug back and screw it back in. Be sure not to over-tighten it. If the threads on the drain plug are deformed or the seal is compressed from age, replace the drain plug with a new plug to prevent future oil leaks. Set the oil aside for recycling.

Remove old oil filter

Put newspaper underneath where you are going to remove it. Clean off the filter using a rag – this will keep it from being to slippery. Unscrew the filter with an oil filter wrench. As you are loosening the filter, be sure not to let the oil spill out. Put the old filter in a plastic bag and secure it. Set it aside along with the old oil for recycling.


Install new oil filter

At one end of the filter, there is a large hole – take the quart of oil and pour oil into it until it is ¾ full. If your filter mounts horizontally you will not be able to add oil to the filter before installation. There is a rubber O-ring around the hole, spread some oil on it with your finger.

Place the new oil filter in the same place where you removed the old filter. Gently tighten by hand until it seats properly and then turn it another ¼ to ½ turn. 


Add the oil

Double check to ensure that the drain plug is in. Consult your owner’s manual for the recommended amount of oil to add and what viscosity of oil to use (5W40, 10W40, etc.). Use a funnel to help you add the oil. Put the oil cap back on.



Wrapping up the job

Turn on the engine and run it for 30 seconds to get the new oil circulating. Turn the engine off. Lower the car off the jack stands and once you are on level ground, check the oil level by pulling out the dipstick. Add more oil if it isn’t full. That’s all there is to it! You have successfully changed your oil and oil filter.

Print your very own Oil Change Supply List for your vehicle:

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Learn more about Champion oil filters, find your car part, or find a local car repair shop today.

The content contained in this article is for entertainment and informational purposes only and should not be used in lieu of seeking professional advice from a certified technician or mechanic. We encourage you to consult with a certified technician or mechanic if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered herein. Under no circumstances will we be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any content.