How to Change Your Own Oil

Taking the reins on your vehicle’s maintenance can seem like a daunting task – even for more simple tasks, such as changing your own oil. It’s hard to ignore how easy quick-change oil locations make the process, especially for those who are extremely busy. You take your vehicle to the location, wait briefly, pay for the service, and are on your way.

But convenience always comes with a price. Trading time and effort for a quicker, easier experience can be a benefit for some people. Others enjoy the rewarding process of servicing their own vehicles even if it is more time-consuming or requires more knowledge. But maintenance on your vehicle doesn’t have to be a huge headache. It can also be exciting, save you money, and teach you more about how your vehicle functions.

How to Do Your Own Oil Change in 7 Easy Steps

1. Jack Up Your Vehicle

Jack up your vehicle and give yourself plenty of room to work under it. You can use jack stands, ramps, or a hoist to raise your vehicle. When raising your vehicle, be certain you are being as safe as possible. Make sure all tools holding up the vehicle are in good condition, placed properly, and able to stay in position for an extended period of time.

2. Open Engine Cover

Most modern vehicles have a plastic tray underneath the vehicle to protect the underside of important engine components. In order to reach the oil filter and oil pan, the tray cover must be removed. These trays are usually held on by bolts and screws, which can be removed with basic tools. If your car has one of these trays, remove it now and inspect the area for any oil leaks.

3. Remove Oil Plug & Drain

Gather an oil drain pan or a large bucket to drain the oil into. Most vehicles have at least one gallon of oil in their engine, so be sure your oil-collecting item is large enough. Once you have your oil-collecting item, situate it directly underneath so that no oil spills on the ground. Next, remove your drain plug with a wrench, unscrewing it counterclockwise. Once you start to loosen the drain plug, the oil will begin to pour out. Allow your engine oil to drain for three to five minutes.

4. Locate & Remove the Old Filter

Locate your old oil filter. Most oil filters are roughly the size of an orange, round, and screwed directly onto the engine. Using an oil filter wrench, loosen the oil filter by turning it counterclockwise. Loosen it just enough to where the oil begins to come out of the top. Continue to remove it all the way once the oil flow subsides.

Before you install your new filter, make sure the oil filter gasket is no longer there. If the old gasket is still there when the new filter is put on, it won’t seal correctly, leading to all your new oil leaking out. Do not attach your new oil filter yet.

5. Add Your Drain Plug & Oil Filter

Put your drain plug back on and make sure it’s tight. Do not overtighten, as this can cause damage to your plug and oil pan. Once your plug is back in, grab your oil filter and apply a light layer of oil around the rubber gasket. Once you have applied the oil, proceed with installing the oil filter. The same rule applies from the drain plug: make sure it’s tight but refrain from overtightening.

6. Fill Your Vehicle with Oil

Once you’ve placed your drain plug back in its respective spot and replaced the oil filter, reinstall your engine tray underneath the car. Now you’ll want to lower your vehicle back to the ground and remove the jacks. Open your hood and remove the oil cap. Using a funnel, fill the engine with the recommended type and amount of oil.

7. Check Your Oil Levels

After letting the oil settle for a few minutes, use the dipstick to check that your oil is at the proper level needed for your vehicle. Once you’ve assessed the oil levels, turn on your vehicle and let it warm up with the new oil inside. Congrats! You’ve successfully changed your own oil.

How Do I Dispose of My Used Oil?

It is essential to dispose of your used motor oil properly. If oil is disposed of incorrectly, it can cause havoc on the environment, wildlife, and more. One quart of motor oil can contaminate hundreds of thousands of gallons of water, making it unsafe to drink. Part of changing your own oil is taking responsibility for where the oil goes after the job is done.

Motor oil should never be placed in your trash can or allowed to run off into the ground. Any container containing used oil should be labeled “used oil” and not mixed with any other substances. Oil can be properly disposed of in various ways, such as:

  • Auto Parts Stores – Some auto parts stores accept used oil. Contact your local auto parts store ahead of time and find out if they accept used oil.
  • Quick-Change Shops – Like auto parts stores, some quick-change oil shops accept used oil and dispose of it the same way they do for their customers. Contact your local oil change shops to find out if they accept used oil and if there is a disposal fee.
  • Transfer Stations - Most transfer stations house a dedicated storage area for used oil and accept it on a regular basis. Transfer stations will either send the oil out for recycling or use the oil for heating.

Local Hazardous Waste Pick-Up – Some cities or towns host household hazardous waste days where items normally not allowed in the trash are picked up. Contact your local government or city hall and find out if your area provides this service.

Is It Cheaper to Change Your Own Oil?

In most cases, it is cheaper to change your own oil, especially if you already have some parts or tools needed to perform the task. When you choose to change your own oil, you’re saving money on labor costs, overhead for that shop, and oil disposal fees.

When you think of changing your oil, another factor to consider is how long it takes to change your own oil and if that time is worth the lower cost. Changing your own oil should take about 30 minutes to an hour depending on what tools you have available, your experience level, and the vehicle you’re working on. Some vehicles are easier to work on than others based on the way they’re set up inside.

In order to change your own oil, you will need new oil, an oil filter, and an oil drain plug gasket. Prices vary for each of these items depending on the year, make, and model of your vehicle. Depending on your vehicle, the amount of oil you need also varies. Oil filters can range from $5-$20. Drain plug gaskets are usually less than $1. Oil ranges in price based on what you need, but the average sits at about $25-$30 per change. Make sure you purchase the oil the manufacturer recommends for your vehicle.

So overall, it costs roughly $40 to change your own oil assuming you already have the tools needed. Additionally, there are other benefits of changing your own oil besides price. For car enthusiasts or do-it-yourselfers, performing your own maintenance on your vehicle can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. For those looking to dive into the mechanic world or save money, changing your own oil is an easier, less overwhelming experience to start with and saves you labor and overhead costs from oil change shops.

Does Changing Your Own Oil Void Your Warranty?

The majority of the time, changing your own oil does not void your manufacturer's warranty. But it does have a bit of a stipulation on it. If you damage your car in the process of changing your own oil, the manufacturer will not foot the costs to repair your vehicle. This is true in any case, even for a professional oil change shop.

So, if you plan on changing your own oil, just remember you will be responsible for covering any damage or repairs needed.

Contact Us

Ready to set out on your oil-changing journey? Stop by your local U Pull & Pay to find what you need for your auto projects. Do you have an old vehicle sitting around? We buy your junk cars! Contact us today for a free quote on your junk car. Unsure if U Pull & Pay is the right company for you? Check out our Things to Know section highlighting the process here for junk cars, safety, FAQs, and more.

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