Mechanics

Oil Change and Filter

Step by step guide on how to change an automotive engine oil and filter, this article pertains to most vehicles.

Difficulty Scale: 2 of 10

Begin with the vehicle on level ground, in park with the emergency brake set, raised in the air safely using jack stands for support. Some aspects of this information will be slightly different for each individual vehicle but follow the same premise.

Step 1 - Locate the vehicle hood release and open the hood while using a support rod if equipped.


Open Hood

Step 2 - Located and remove any lower shielding that will hinder access to the oil drain plug and oil filter. After any obstructive shields have been removed, locate the engine oil pan drain plug (lower engine).


Engine Oil Drain Plug

Step 3 - Using a wrench or socket loosen the oil drain plug by turning it counterclockwise.


Loosen Oil Drain Plug

Step 4 - Once the oil drain plug has been loosened, remove the plug by hand, be ready, oil will flow oil immediately, have a fluid catch basin ready.


Hand Loosen Drain Plug

Step 5 - While quickly removing the drain plug oil will flow out until complete. (Note: The oil is drained first to help drain the oil filter.)


Engine Oil Draining

Step 6 - After the oil has finish draining, use a shop towel to wipe away any excess oil and debris from the drain plug washer sealing surface.


Shop Towel

Step 7 - Once the surface has been cleaned, inspect the oil drain plug and washer for wear and replace if needed, thread the drain plug in by hand.


Reinstall Oil Pan Drain Plug

Step 8 -  Next, tighten the plug using a wrench or socket and ratchet, do not over tighten.


Tighten Oil Drain Plug

Step 9 - After the drain plug is tight, use a shop towel to wipe clean the drain plug area.


Clean Drain Plug Area

Step 10 - Then, locate the oil filter or oil filter housing (some oil filters are located on the top of the engine.) Oil filters are manufactured in two different styles, canister and conventional. Use an oil filter wrench or large channel locks turn the filter housing counterclockwise.


Loosen Oil Filter Housing

Step 11 - Once loose, continue to loosen the oil filter, oil will begin to leak out, have a fluid catch basin ready.


Remove Oil Filter Housing

Step 12 - The oil filter will then separate from the filter housing or block location.


Canister Oil Filter Removed

Step 13 - After the used oil filter has been removed from the engine, grasp the filter from the housing and separate. (Canister filters only).


Used Oil Filter

Step 14 - Compare the used oil filter to the new one making sure size is the same. Conventional oil filter must check mounting thread size and sealing gasket configuration.


Compare Oil Filters

Step 15 - Push the new filter cartridge into place in the housing.


Installing Oil Filter Cartridge

Step 16 - Once the new filter cartridge is installed, remove the old sealing O ring from the housing.


Remove Oil Ring Seal

Step 17 - After using a shop towel to clean the housing, install the new O ring seal and wipe clean.


Install New O Ring Seal

Step 18 - Using a small amount of engine oil, lubricate the O ring seal which helps installation.


Lubricate O Ring Seal

Step 19 - Install the oil filter assembly by tightening the housing. This action can be done by hand, the final tighten by hand also. (Note: Make sure the used oil filter gasket is removed from the area before installation).


Install Oil Filter Housing

Step 20 - Once the oil filter has been tightened, use a shop towel to wipe down the area.


Wipe Clean

Step 21 - After the engine oil has been drained and filter changed, reinstall any plastic shielding


Remove Engine Oil Fill Cap

Step 22 - Then, install an oil funnel to assist the motor oil installation.


Oil Funnel

Step 23 - Pour the appropriate amount of motor oil into the oil fill port, which can vary from 4 to 10 quarts.


Installing Motor Oil

Step 24 - After installing the motor oil, use a shop towel to help catch any random oil drips left from the funnel.


Remove Oil Funnel

Step 25 - Next, inspect the cap seal before reinstallation, thread the cap on by turning it clockwise until tight. Clean area with a shop towel.


Engine Oil Fill Cap

Step 26 - Then, locate and remove the oil level dipstick to check oil levels. ( Note: The oil level can only be measured after the engine has been run for about 20 seconds, this action fills the oil filter with oil ).


Oil Level Dipstick

Step 27 - Once removed, wipe the dip stick using a shop towel and reinsert the stick, wait, then pull the stick out again. This action will produce the engine oil level which should be at the top full mark, between the add and full lines represents a measured quart.


Oil Level Dip Stick

After the job is complete, check under the vehicle for oil leaks. Clean excess spilled oil before starting the engine to avoid oil smoke when the engine heats up.

Tool and Supplies Needed

  • Motor oil
  • Oil filter
  • Shop towels
  • Hydraulic jack
  • Jack stands
  • Socket set
  • Fluid catch basin
  • Protective eyewear and gloves
Helpful Information

Each manufacturer has their own recommendation when is comes to engine service and weight and type of oil used, this service schedule will vary due to driving conditions. When not knowing the amount of motor oil used in a particular engine, start with four quarts then start checking and adding oil until full. In colder regions allow extra time to pass before rechecking oil, this added time is used for allowing newly added oil to drain into the oil pan where it is measured. Due to the clarity of new engine oil, it can be difficult to see on the dip stick, in these cases use a flashlight to help detect the oil level. If the last engine service interval is unknown remove the dipstick and inspect the clarity of the oil. Inferior oil filters fail to remove carbon particles causing premature wear and eventually failure.

Best Practices

  • Check engine oil on level ground.
  • Use quality oils and filters.
  • Dispose of used oil and filters at local parts store.

AUTHOR


Written by
Co-Founder and CEO of 2CarPros.com
35 years in the automotive repair field, ASE Master Technician, Advanced Electrical and Mechanical Theory.


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Article first published (Updated 2014-08-11)