DIY Car Maintenance: Tips to Change Your Oil

| Auto insurance, Auto Safety Tips.

diy oil change tips

Are you a hands-on DIY type of person? If so, changing your own engine oil might be something you enjoy as part of your vehicle maintenance routine. We have some great DIY oil change tips to make the process smooth and simple.

About Vehicle Motor Oil

Modern motor oil is pretty incredible stuff. Quality synthetic oils can last for 7500 miles, or more, in a well-maintained engine. Oil lubricates and cools the moving parts of your engine but, as with most automobile fluids, it does have a finite lifespan. Over time, engine oil becomes contaminated with combustion by-products, fuel, and the viscosity can be reduced. As the oil additive package is depleted, it’s ability to lubricate and neutralize combustion acids is reduced. To protect your vehicle’s engine, you should change the oil according to the OEM recommendations.

What Kind of Motor Oil Does My Car Use?

Your owners manual will specify what type of oil is right for your engine. That oil spec is critical to protecting your engine and maximizing fuel economy. Many cars require a low-viscosity or “energy saving” oil such as 5W-20 or 0W-20. In addition, your vehicle manufacturer may have additional specifications for the additives, shear resistance, and dynamic viscosity. These specifications include Dexos (GM), ACEA (European cars), CK4 (diesel engines), API SN, and ILSAC GF5/GF6. It is important you understand what the oil specification is for your vehicle and buy accordingly.

Also, make sure you know how much oil your vehicle needs. Check your owners manual or this website for the appropriate amount of oil needed.

Synthetic VS Conventional Oil

Synthetic oils are simply better lubricants when compared to “conventional” oils. Many vehicles are filled with a synthetic oil from the factory, especially vehicles requiring a 0W20/30/40 viscosity requirement. Even if your vehicle can use a conventional oil, we think synthetic or synthetic blends are worth the extra cost.

Safety Tips When Changing Oil

You will need access to the underside of your vehicle to change the oil. For most cars, this means using a jack or ramps to elevate the vehicle. You should always use jacks stands to hold the vehicle up. NEVER crawl under a vehicle supported only by a jack. We think ramps are the safest solution, especially when using rear-wheel chocks to prevent vehicle movement. Wear eye protection to keep dirt, debris, and engine oil out of your eyes. Nitrile, latex, or mechanics gloves are also a good idea.

DIY Step By Step Oil Change Tips

Here are our tips for making a DIY oil change simple and mess-free:

  • Warm the engine for a few minutes before draining the old oil. If the engine is already hot, let things cool down for 30 or so minutes. Warm oil drains faster and suspends contaminants better than cold oil.
  • Always use a wrench or socket that is the correct size for the oil drain plug. Never use pliers or an adjustable wrench! Most modern vehicles use a metric drain plug bolt – 13, 14, and 17mm are common sizes.
  • Have a large drain pan ready to catch the oil from the engine. Things can get messy during this step and a large catch pan makes the process easier.
  • Hand tighten the oil filter only. Screw the filter down until the gasket hits and then go 1/2 to 3/4 turn more. There is no reason to use a filter wrench to install an oil filter.
  • Dispose of your oil properly! Take the used oil to any auto parts store. They will accept it for free and make sure it is properly recycled. Do not put used motor oil into the garbage can.
  • After pouring in the correct amount of new oil, start the engine and let it run for a few minutes. Check for leaks at the oil filter and drain plug. Then, turn off the motor and let it sit for another 2-3 minutes before checking the oil level on the dipstick. The oil level should read between the half and full mark.

Check Your Auto Insurance

We hope these DIY oil change tips are helpful and encourage you to get your hands dirty! Also, consider if it might be time for auto insurance change as well! Let the experts at Safeguard Insurance review your auto insurance coverage. A no-obligation quote is just a call or click away. Contact us today for more information.

Get a Quote: Auto Insurance

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash