How to Perform a Lube Job on Your Vehicle

A lube job consists of filling fluid levels, such as windshield wiper fluid and changing the oil of your vehicle. Changing the oil in your car is something that everyone ought to know how to do. Even if you never do it, just knowing how to do it is beneficial because it helps you know where all fluid reservoirs are located allowing you to check fluid levels. It is a relatively simple process and you only need a few minor tools.



Gather All Needed Equipment and Supplies

Make sure you have everything you need ahead of time. Make a checklist if you have to, the last thing you want is to find out that you are missing something important the second the oil starts flowing out of your car. Have everything laid out logically so you can easily find the tool or part you need. Items that you will need include an oil wrench, a wrench to remove the oil plug, a drop cloth or newspaper to cover the ground, a drip pan to catch the old oil and filter, the requisite amount of new oil, check your owner’s manual, and a new oil filter.


Warm Up the Car

It is a good idea to warm the car up to allow the oil flow more smoothly when you go to drain it. Do not warm the car for more than a minute or two, otherwise it will get too hot and you will have to wait for it to cool a bit. After you turn the car off, open the filler cap under the hood. It is usually located on top of the engine. Opening up the cap actually helps the oil drain as well. Look for the drain plug under your car at the base of the oil pan. It is generally located towards the back, lower portion of the engine. Once you locate the plug on the bottom, to prevent any unwanted staining, put something on the floor to protect the flooring like a drop cloth or some old towels.


Turn the Plug Counterclockwise

Be sure that you have the right sized socket or wrench to remove the plug. An extension can be used if necessary when removing the oil plug. Place the catch pan under the oil pan plug area. As you remove the plug, remember that the oil will flow at an angle, so it is best if you pull the plug out at an angle as well, to prevent as much unnecessary spillage as possible. Make sure you have a good grip on the plug because you do not want to drop the plug in the oil. It is messy and sometimes frustrating to find it and then clean it off.


Oil Filters on Foreign Cars

Many foreign cars have oil reservoirs with the filter built into the container. These filters are typically flat, rectangular filters and they must be ‘lifted’ out of the reservoir. The location for this filter varies with each car, but your owner’s manual should have an engine diagram that will pinpoint the location. When removing this kind of filter be prepared for drips and spillage. Ensure you have rags or a drop cloth to minimize this.


Find the Oil Filter and Remove It

The oil filter for domestic cars is a cylinder shaped canister that can be difficult to find sometimes. You will need to check your car’s manual to find out exactly where it is or just look on the lower right or left side of your engine. After you find it, unscrew it from the engine, after draining the oil via the oil pan plug. If you need to, use an oil wrench to get it to come off. Be careful with the filter because it does contain oil. It would be best to remove it over the catch pan. Do not forget to remove the gasket when you remove the old filter.


Reinstalling the Drain Plug

Once all oil has been drained and the oil filter has been removed, you are ready to begin the process of putting new oil back in. The first step is to put the oil pan plug back in. When you go to put the plug in, make sure you have a replacement washer or replacement gasket if necessary. It will help if you start it by hand at first so you do not strip or cross thread the plug. Finger tighten the plug and then use a wrench to make it snug, but not too tight.


Putting on the New Oil Filter

Most oil filters have an o-ring. The o-ring is meant to seal the oil filter to the engine. Prior to installing the filter, dip your finger into the old oil and smear a light film on the o-ring. This allows it to seal to the engine. You will then hand turn the filter until it tightens. You may also want to use an oil filter wrench to tighten the filter just a quarter turn beyond hand tight. Be careful though, because you do not want it to be too tight.


Pour Oil into the Engine

Verify how much oil you will need to correctly fill the oil reservoir. The best place to check is your owner’s manual. Once the correct amount of oil has been added, check the dipstick. Make sure the car is been sitting on a level surface prior to checking the dipstick. Be careful not to overfill as this can cause engine problems, such as bursting seals.


Replace the Filler Cap

Check for any random tools that might be lying around because you do not want one of those left under the hood. Replace the filler cap until it is snug. Once it is on, close the hood of your car.


Start Your Engine

When you start your engine, be sure to check that the oil pressure light does in fact turn off after your car starts up. Once the car is running, check the area around the oil filter and oil pan drain plug to ensure there are no leaks. This will require that the car run for a minute or two, to allow the oil pressure to build up.

Changing your oil is not a hard thing to do and doing a simple lube job at home, can save you money. If you need help when you start out, do not be afraid to ask for it by calling your local mechanic. If you have a luxury car, contacting a dealership’s maintenance department would also be a good idea. When you have completed the oil change, dispose of the old oil and filter in a responsible manner by taking it to a recycling center.