Save Money by Changing the Oil in Your Vehicle Yourself

When you’re trying to be frugal, doing simple auto repair or maintenance is a great way to save some cash. Changing the oil in your vehicle is simple when you know what to do. It’s more complex than just throwing in a new quart of oil. It’s requires an afternoon of getting your hands dirty, but it could save you up to $100. There are environmental guidelines you need to follow, so be aware of those as well. Try following these steps to make sure you get the job done right.



Warm it Up

It’s important to let your vehicle warm the oil a little before changing it. It will be thinner and quicker to drain if the oil has run through the engine.


Gather Your Tools

If this is the first time changing the oil in this particular vehicle, you might want to look at your owner’s manual to make sure there aren’t special instructions like the location of the oil pan, drain plug, or oil filter. Then, make sure you have the right tools listed in the manual on hand.


Drain the Oil

First, you will want to wear the proper safety goggles when working under your vehicle. Oil, grease, or other foreign objects can flake into your eyes if they’re not properly protected.
*b) Grab a Bucket
You’ll need a pan or a shallow bucket to catch the old oil. It will need to be shallow enough to fit under the vehicle, but large enough to hold about five quarts of oil. Put it in place under your vehicle.
*c) Loosen the Drain Plug
You’ll turn the oil plug counter clockwise using a wrench to loosen and release it. Gravity will help drain the oil. Make sure the bucket or pan is in place before you release the plug. If you lose the plug during the draining process, a magnet might be able to help you find it easily and without digging through dirty oil.


Check and Replace Your Oil Filter

Your owner’s manual will help you locate the oil filter on your vehicle. These are usually located in different areas depending on the make, model, and year of the vehicle. Most manufacturers suggest you replace your oil filter every time you change the oil. This helps keep your engine running smoothly. There will be instructions on how to remove and replace your particular vehicle’s oil filter in the owner’s manual.


Replace Drain Plug

Replace your drain plug with a new gasket or washer and make sure it’s tightened. There’s no need to over tighten the plug. This will keep the new oil sealed and ready for use.


Add New Oil

Your owner’s manual will hold the key to knowing which type of oil your vehicle needs to run its best and how much to use. Most vehicles take between four and six quarts of oil. Whatever you do, don’t wing this one. Look for the answers in your owner’s manual to be sure. Putting in too much or too little oil could seriously damage your vehicle.


Replace the Fill Cap

Now, it’s time to replace the fill cap under the hood and begin your cleanup. Make sure you retrieve any tools that may be under your vehicle. You don’t want to accidentally run over a wayward tool and puncture a tire.


Start Your Engine

It’s finally time to start your engine and let it run for a few minutes. This allows the new oil to begin circulating through your engine.


Check the Oil

This one last step will make sure you’re good to go. Check the oil after your vehicle has cooled down. Make sure you’re sitting on a level surface so your car’s dipstick can accurately read the amount of oil in the reservoir. The first thing in the morning is a great time to do this. If your dipstick is reading low, you might want to add another quart of oil.


Dispose of the Old Oil

You could be fined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if you don’t dispose of used motor oil properly. It’s not something you can bury, throw away, or pour down the drain. Doing any of those things can and will pollute the local water supply. Instead, check with your local automotive store for disposal methods. They can point you to the right agency or even a company that will recycle it.

Changing your vehicle’s oil could save you $50 to $100 every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. If you don’t keep a check on your vehicles oil, it could end up costing you thousands of dollars to repair or replace your engine. Changing your oil is a great weekend project. It’s also a good lesson to teach your kids as they’re preparing to hit the roads. Additionally, keep at least a quart of oil in your vehicle at all times and check the level frequently.