August 11, 2022
Written by
Kate Rochat

How to Change Your Oil In Your Driveway

An oil change is a necessary maintenance to ensure that your car remains in good health and runs properly for a long time. Oil lubricates your engine and allows the different parts of your engine to work smoothly alongside each other with minimal friction. 

After a certain amount of time, the oil in your engine will begin to deteriorate due to debris and dirt, which will cause your engine to not run as smoothly. It is critical that you change your oil when recommended, because old oil can eventually cause your engine to overheat and fail. 

Here is a step-by-step tutorial on how to change your oil safely and accurately by yourself. 

Safety First

Though an oil change is a basic and common procedure, it is still extremely important to take all necessary precautions to avoid putting yourself in danger. Here are some tips on how to ensure your safety when changing your oil by yourself.

  • Do not work under a car that is only being held up by a floor jack. Whether you decide to use ramps, jack stands, or a hoist, the car must be lifted enough for you to have room to work underneath it. Make sure that the car is securely lifted and the tire chocks are properly positioned. 
  • Wear safety glasses. Debris may come loose from the underside of your car, and your eyes should be protected from this to avoid any injury.
  • Wear gloves and long sleeves. This is to protect you from getting burns from the oil or filters.

Lift Your Vehicle & Remove the Undertray

As mentioned above, it is extremely important that your car is securely and safely lifted in the air, high enough to give you comfortable access to the underside of the vehicle. This can be achieved by using ramps, jack stands, or a hoist, but do not operate on a car that is only being held up by a floor jack. Also, ensure tire chocks are properly positioned.

Once the car is lifted, remove the undertray from the underside of your vehicle, which is held on with bolts, screws, plastic clips (or all of the above). This is necessary to give you access to the oil drain pan and the oil filter.

Before moving on, look around for any oil leaks. If you find any, get your car checked by a mechanic before proceeding.

Unplug and Drain the Oil

First, make sure that you have a sizable container to hold all of the drained oil. This may be an oil drain pan, a 5+ gallon bucket, or an oil reservoir, but it must be big enough so that the drained oil does not overflow (or get close to it). Using your container, position it in a way that the old oil exiting your vehicle will drain easily into it without causing a mess or lots of spillage.

Once your drain container is situated properly, remove the drain plug by unscrewing it with a wrench. Be careful not to let go of the plug as you remove it - oil will begin to pour out as soon as the drain plug is removed. 

Once the drain plug is removed, allow the oil to drain for 5 or so minutes, until the oil begins to trickle slowly rather than pour out.

Remove the Old Filter

The oil filter is a fist-sized cylindrical component which is attached to the engine. To remove the filter, you will likely need to use an oil-filter wrench, as it may be too tightly screwed on to remove with your hands. By turning it counter-clockwise, loosen the old oil filter to the point where old oil begins dripping out from the loosened opening. Allow this oil to drain into your oil reservoir (wait for the oil flow to end), and remove the filter. 

Check to make sure that the old oil filter gasket (a large ring) was removed as well. If this is left behind by accident, the new filter will not attach properly. Secondly, it is best to wipe off any oil that remains on the areas before replacing the drain plug and new oil filter. 

Replace Drain Plug & New Oil Filter

Next, replace the drain plug and tighten according to the manufacturer's specifications. Do not overtighten as it may damage the drain plug and the oil pan. This should be tightened to a point where it is snug, but not too snug, as damage can occur to the drain plug and oil pan if the drain plug is plugged too tightly, and make sure not to rip off the head of the drain plug. 

Some vehicles have a washer that lies behind the drain plug, which needs to be replaced when you reinstall the plug. Check your car’s owners manual to see if this applies to your vehicle. 

After your drain plug is reinstalled, take your new oil filter and apply a very light layer of oil on the rubber gasket on the top of the filter; this helps to seal the filter properly. Once again, make sure to tighten the filter to a point where it is snug, but not too tight.

Once these steps are completed, you can reattach your undertray and lower your vehicle.

Refill Your Oil

After lowering your vehicle back to the ground, open the hood and remove the oil cap. This cap may have an oil-can icon on it to indicate that it is the oil cap. 

Once the oil cap is removed, use a funnel and fill the engine with your car’s recommended amount of oil. You can find this in your owner's manual. 

Check the Level

Once you have waited a few minutes to let the new oil settle into the engine, use the dipstick to confirm that the oil is at the correct level. First, remove the dipstick and clean off any oil. Next, reinsert the dipstick, remove it, and check to confirm that the oil is at the correct indicated level. 

Finally, start your vehicle. Allow it to warm up and idle, and then check underneath the vehicle and surrounding the oil filter for any leaks. 

If there are no leaks, your first oil change is completed! But of course, why go through all this trouble when you could book a mobile oil change, instead?