How to Change the Oil Filter of a Car

One of the most common forms of preventative maintenance is also one of the simplest to perform yourself. All you need to change your own oil is the right tools for the job, and an afternoon set aside for some quality work. You’ll save at least $20 every time you choose to do it yourself, and it takes little more than an hour to do the job properly.

Tools Needed

You will need a few tools from your mechanics tool set to do the job properly. A wrench will be important to remove the drain plug on the oil pan, and an oil filter wrench to pry the filter loose. It has special settings that let you lock the filter into place for a firm grip. A funnel for the new oil is important, as is a pan for the old oil. You might also want a pair of latex gloves so your hands stay somewhat clean, and a jack stand will give you greater access to the undercarriage of the car.

Determine What You Need

Once you have the tools assembled, you’ll need to consult your car’s manual to see what kind of oil is required. Viscosity is extremely important, as some engines only perform on oil with a certain viscosity. Failure to have the proper oil can damage your engine, so take the time get this step proper. You should also check for any other required maintenance, like an air filter, so you can be sure that you’re within your car’s warranty.

Basic Tips

You can buy the proper oil filter for your car at most auto parts stores, or at your dealership if you can’t find it elsewhere. You will also need a new washer for your drain plug, so be sure to ask whether the filter comes with one. Use your filter wrench on the serrations at the end of your filter to turn it. When the filter is loose, you should be able to pull it free. You will also need your engine to be warm, but not hot. You should let your car run for a bit, but also set it and let it cool before you start the work. If you raise the car for access, a floor creeper will help you easily get underneath the car to work.

Final Touches

Once you’re finished removing the filter, you’ll need to dispose of the used oil. Most auto parts stores will take care of this for a small fee, but you may want to collect oil from a few changes before you take it all in.
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