In this series of articles, John, an expert mechanic at one of our Denver-area AAMCO car repair centers, will give advice on a variety of do-it-yourself car maintenance topics. Today, John explains how to change your oil and filter.

oil change denverHowdy everybody. Today we’re going to talk about how to change your oil. An oil change every 3000-4000 miles, or about every 3 months is probably the most important thing you can do to maintain your vehicle, and the good news is that you can save a little bit of money by doing it yourself, if you have the right tools and are comfortable working under your hood.

Here’s what you’ll need: Old rags, newspapers, work gloves, new oil filter, wrenches, ratchet and socket sets, funnels, a drainage pan, a plastic container, 4-5 quarts of motor oil, and a car jack (if your vehicle has low clearance).

Getting Ready to Change Your Oil

Start by gathering all of the tools you’ll need (refer to the necessary tools above). If your car has a low clearance make sure you have a jack and know how to use it. Make sure the car is parked on a level surface. Next, turn on your vehicle and let it run for ten minutes. This will help you drain your oil, since warm oil drains faster than cool oil. After ten minutes turn off your engine, then open your hood and put the new oil and funnel on top of the engine. This will help you remember to add new oil before you finish. Forgetting to add new oil can be an expensive mistake!

Draining Your Old Oil

Next, it’s time to crawl under your vehicle. Make sure it’s completely secure and level before you do. You may also want to put some newspapers on ground below your vehicle to prevent oil from getting on the floor of your garage or driveway. Now, locate the oil drain plug on the bottom of the engine. Consult your owner’s manual for the exact location, but it’s usually nearer to the front of the vehicle than the back. Put your oil drain pan under the drain plug and loosen it with a socket wrench. Don’t remove it completely until you’re ready for hot oil to come out of it (make sure the pan, not you, is directly underneath it!). Let the old oil drain completely into the pan, then wipe off the oil drain plug and securely re-install the plug and the drain plug gasket.

Changing Your Oil Filter

Next, let’s change the oil filter. Consult your owner’s manual for the exact location of the oil filter on your car, truck, or SUV. It’s usually on the side of the engine. Put the oil pan beneath the filter to catch any remaining oil, and the use a wrench to unscrew the filter. Use an old rag to wipe up the area where the filter is mounted to the engine.

Now, take some new oil and lightly coat the rubber seal of the new filter that you’re going to install. Once the rubber seal is coated, screw in the new filter. Make sure it’s securely in place, but it does not need to be overly-tight.

Adding New Oil

Remember to add new oil! It sounds silly, but people come into our AAMCO center who’ve drained their old oil, put in a new filter, forgotten to add new oil, and then started their engine. Don’t be this person. Find the oil cap and open it. Place the funnel into the opening and pour in your new oil, about 4-5 quarts. Remove the funnel and replace the oil cap. Next, turn on your engine and let it run for a minute, then check the dipstick. If it’s still low, add more oil.

Cleaning Up After Your Oil Change

It’s time to clean up. Start by checking the area around the oil drain plug and filter for leaks. If any oil is leaking, tighten them. Wipe up any excess oil with old rags or newspapers. Wait for your old oil to cool, then dispose of it properly. Take it to a recycling facility or your local AAMCO Center. DO NOT pour it down the drain or into the sewer.

That’s it! With the right tools and a little bit of time in your driveway or garage you can change your oil yourself. Remember to change your oil regularly, as instructed in your owner’s manual.

However, do-it-yourself oil and filter changes are not for everyone. Your Colorado AAMCO center offers full service oil and filter change, which includes our free 36 point ProtectCheck® inspection. Give us a call or drive into your neighborhood AAMCO center and we’ll take care of it for you!

To find the Colorado AAMCO center nearest to you, view here.