The third installment in our “Road Safety 101: A Weekly Guide to Staying Safe on the Road” series provides information on how to change your own oil. Most people tend to go to their auto dealer, oil change shop, or auto repair shop to get their vehicle’s oil changed, even though it is a job they could easily do themselves. Changing your own oil lets you know with certainty the job was done right, as well as saving valuable time and money.
Before you can change the oil in your vehicle, you will need to make sure you have the specific items, equipment and tools necessary to complete the process safely. At the very least you should have:
Four to six quarts of the motor oil recommended by your vehicle manufacturer
Oil filter (of the exact specs detailed in your owner’s manual)
Oil filter wrench
Drain pan capable of holding no less than five to seven quarts of oil
Safety glasses or goggles
Ramps or jack stands
While changing your own oil can often be completed in about 20 or 30 minutes, safety comes first. Never attempt to change the oil or work under a vehicle when it is supported only by a jack. Use jack stands if you can, or drive the front tires up onto wheel ramps so the front of the vehicle is elevated, then set your emergency brake and put wheel blocks behind the rear tires to prevent rolling.
At this point you should be ready to begin the oil changing process. NOTE: If you want, you can lay sheeting or a tarp down on the ground underneath the oil drain plug to reduce any spill cleanup.
Slowly pour in the recommended amount of oil, no more, as described in your owner’s manual.
Changing your oil on a routine and regular basis can help improve engine performance, minimize buildup of dirt and allow your vehicle to get better gas mileage, reduce harmful emissions and extend the overall life of the engine.
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