This Dummies Guide to Doing Your Own Oil Change

If you are like me, you consider yourself a pretty smart person. You can balance a checkbook, figure out the tip on your bill at the restaurant, even figure out some of those really confusing insurance documents that come in the mail by the shoebox full.

But when it comes to anything hands on – reading instructions and figuring things out – well, I have a hard time putting a shoe shelf together (true story).


Most of the time I pay to get work done on my vehicle – sometimes it’s not always cheaper to do it yourself unless you have the tools and parts already at your disposal. So 90% of the time I take my car to get the oil changed; they top off the fluids, and heck, sometimes they even vacuum it out for me (BONUS!) But there are some occasions when I can’t drop my vehicle off for an entire day and wait for a garage full of mechanics to get to mine when they find the time. Time is money right?

So I decided I would teach myself to change my own oil – and let me tell you I read like a million different instructional blogs, watched a few YouTube videos – and it took all of those to get me to a point where it all clicked. So I figured I’d put all those tips together to make one understandable even-for-dummies instructional.


Now to get started you want to wear old clothes, put on some tactical knee pads, and have a yard/driveway/garage where you can make a mess, and have a container to properly dispose of  the used oil (these can be dropped off at select locations only – don’t throw them in the trash!) and your new oil (your car’s manual should tell you what kind to get). Now you are ready to get started!

Start your  car and let it run for about 2 minutes – not too long that everything gets hot and you could burn yourself, but enough to get the oil flowing.



The drain plug is located under the oil pan at the bottom of the engine. Usually you will have to crawl under your car to reach it (or jack it up. If you are not experienced with jacking up a car, I wouldn’t recommend doing it without assistance).



Make sure that you’re throw-away container is positioned under the drain plug; use a paper towel (or even gloves) to protect your hands and remove the drain plug. I recommend doing it slowly and then careful get your hand out of the way. The oil will still be warm – and it’s super messy – so get outta’ the way!



After the oil is drained, remove the cap from the oil ‘filler’ hole at the top (you know, under your hood) and unscrew the oil filter. You have to use a wrench, so be careful!

The filter will have oil in it, so be careful not to make a mess; empty the oil from the filter into your old oil container.


I cannot tell you how many times this has happened to people I know! It’s easy to forget so be sure to put it back on and make sure the bolt is back on tight!



Seriously just remove the old – put in the new. While doing this, make sure any remnants of the old filter are gone (sometimes you have to pick out pieces) and lightly oil the gasket on top of the new filter with some of your new oil. (this keeps it from sticking in the future).


Be sure to use a funnel! Don’t make a mess with the oil – your car will STINK and it will look like it’s on fire from all the oil burning off the other parts of your car! Put a quart in at a time – be sure to follow your cars manual instructing you how many quarts to use. BUT THE CAP BACK ON! (Another rookie mistake – yes, I know from experience).



Let the engine run for about a minute and check for any leaks under the vehicle, or where you replaced the filter.



Shut off the engine and let it sit about 15 minutes.Remove the oil dipstick, wipe it clean, and dip it back in again. Pull it out and check the levels..
IF its not near the full line, add oil a bit at a time, checking the stick after each addition, until it reaches full.



Drive around the block a few times, and then come back and let the car sit another 10 to 15 minutes. Check the oil dipstick again to make sure it’s still at FULL – if so – you’re done! YOU DID IT!!!!


This post is sponsored in part by Springfield Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram.


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