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How to change your engine oil

How to change your engine oil

Most of us take the car to the garage for an oil change – but with some knowledge under your belt, you can tick this task off at home. Let us walk you through it.

Why change the oil and filter yourself?

Simple – it will save you money.  Much of the cost of an oil change is in the labour. Do it yourself and you’ll leave more money in your own pocket.

How often should you change the engine oil?

The answer can be found in the owner’s manual, or online. Most dealers and mechanics recommend the oil be changed every 10,000km, or every six months. Engine oil plays an important role in the smooth running of your car – it lubricates the moving parts of the engine and prevents damage.  This means it’s not something you want to delay too long, and having the skills to do it yourself can make it easier to slot this task into your schedule.

How to change the engine oil

First, make sure you have these items to hand:

  • New oil filter: Check the owner’s manual for the size required
  • Oil: Enough to refill the engine. Check the owner’s manual for the grade and amount required
  • Oil filter wrench, to remove the filter
  • Socket wrench set, to unscrew the drain plug
  • A container to catch the old oil
  • A funnel
  • Some old rags

Steps to changing the engine oil:

1. Warm up the car

Take the car for a short drive to ensure all the oil drains out. Don’t drive too far as you don’t want the oil too hot.

2. Park on a flat surface

Park the car on a flat surface and put on the handbrake. Put blocks behind rear tyres for added safety.

3. Open the hood and remove the oil filter cap

Removing the oil filter cap can help the oil drain out faster.

4. Remove the oil plug

The oil plug is found underneath your car. This is a large bolt at the bottom of the oil pan. Place a drip pan under the hole before unscrewing the plug, to catch the oil – use a socket wrench to unscrew it, but don’t remove it completely or oil will drip everywhere.

5. Let the oil drain from the engine

The oil will take about two minutes to fully drain from the engine.

6. Remove the oil filter

The oil filter isn’t always easy to find. Look at the new one you have purchased and try to identify something similar in the engine. Often it can be removed by hand, but you may need to use your filter wrench. Make sure the rubber gasket ring comes off with it.

7. Install the new oil filter

Smear new oil on the gasket ring of the new filter. Thread the new filter onto the hole where the oil filter goes. Tighten the oil filter with your fingers until it stops turning – then give it one more strong half-turn. Check the manual if in doubt.

8. Replace the oil plug

You might want to replace the sealing washer too. Put the washer in place and thread the drain plug back into its hole, and tighten. Remove the drip pan and you’re done here.

9. Refill the engine with oil

Refill the engine, screw on the oil cap and close the bonnet.

10. Run the engine

Start the car and run the engine for five minutes. If you see any leaks near the oil plug or filter, turn off the engine and tighten the plug as needed.

You’re done! Just make sure you dispose of the oil safely. If you're keen on adding more car maintenance skills to your repertoire, learning how to change your air filter is a good next step.

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