Social Distancing From Your Mechanic? Here’s How to Change Your Oil at Home

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When it comes to “adulting” there are a few things every young person should know how to do on their own. Changing a tire, paying your taxes and checking the balance of your 401k are all up there. Another important one? Changing the oil in your car.

Oil is essential to the function of the standard car engine, as it provides a layer of protection for all of the moving parts that work together to both start your car and propel it forward. It helps protect all of these parts from corrosion that can be caused by condensation and general wear and tear.

Changing your own oil saves you time spent going to the mechanic, waiting around and reading dusty old magazines or navigating spotty waiting room wifi. Plus, if you’re avoiding your car mechanic as part of social distancing measures, changing your oil at home is a great way to make sure your car is in good shape and also staying healthy during quarantine. Tending to your car’s maintenance is a great way to be sure that your car is safe to drive both for you and your family members.

Here’s how to change your oil, in a few easy steps. We’ve included helpful products to carry you all the way through to the end and have linked to some helpful videos and visual aids as well.

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Step 1: Check the Type of Oil and Amount You Need

Before you conduct a standard oil change you should consult your car’s manual to see what type of oil and how much your specific engine requires. You may see figures like “5W-20” or “5W-30” for the types of oil so make sure to read it carefully, as many types look alike but differ based on the type of engine you’ve got. Round up the amount of oil you need so you’ve got enough. For example, if your engine specifies that you need 5.7 quarts of a given type, buy 6 quarts to be safe.

Castrol 03096 5W-30 Motor Oil

This motor oil is made for engines that take 5W-30 oil. It has Unique TriShield technology that provides protection against deposit built-up and the deterioration that can result from that. It also provides maximum protection against thermal and viscosity breakdown in your engine and has low friction built-in to improve your car’s gas mileage.

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Valvoline Advanced Full Synthetic SAE 0W-20 Motor Oil

This engine oil is designed for engine cleanliness and varnish and sludge protection. It has high temperature protection against severe driving conditions as well as cold-temperature protection for a proper start-up and faster oil flow. It’s also made to aid in fuel efficiency and is fully compatible with all leading conventional and synthetic motor oils.

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2. Prepare Your Vehicle

This step may involve lifting your car up onto ramps or a jack so you can get under it and drain the oil. Be careful with this step, and make sure the jacks you use are reliable. You should turn on your car and let everything warm up and then turn it off and let things cool slightly before changing your oil. You don’t want your oil to be too hot for your own safety, but you also don’t want it to be cold.

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Lift up the hood and remove the cap from the oil tank. Then, head under the car and remove the undercover to reveal the bottom of the oil tank, the oil drain plug and the oil filter. Sometimes the car has a simple hatch to unhook, some require you to remove the cover entirely via clips and some don’t have the cover at all, this will depend on the make and model of your vehicle.

BIG RED Steel Scissor Jack Car Kit

This car jack has a scissor design that’s compact and can be used to lift your car up enough for you to get underneath it and empty out that oil tank. It was built using a forged alloyed steel construction making it high-quality and durable, and it has an extra wide base for added strength. It also has a one-piece handle for a quick response and speed while you’re working. It has a lifting range of 4-1/8″ – 15-1/8″ and can lift up to 3,000 lbs.

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RhinoGear Vehicle Ramps Pair

If you’d prefer to go the ramp route for lifting your car up these ramps from RhinoGear are ultra-strong and reliable. They’re portable ramps with a rugged design that’ll last you for years. They have a 17 degree incline for low-clearance vehicles and can hold up to 12,000 pounds with tires 9″ in width.

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3. Drain Your Oil

Locate your oil filter and drain plug. If they’re close to one another you can combine two steps into one and drain your oil and tend to the filter in the same step. If not, hold tight and be patient while your oil drains out before moving the tray under the filter.

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For this step, you’ll need a wrench to remove the drain plug, the drain pan and a pair of gloves. It’s a good idea to keep the gloves on throughout the rest of the process.

Remove the drain plug and drain the oil into your drain pan. Do this slowly and try to keep your hands out of the oil’s path, as it’s going to come out quick and warm. The angle of your drain plug will cause the oil to come out at an angle as well, so be prepared for this and have a sheet laid out in your garage or driveway to protect the pavement. Also, it might be a good idea to take the wind into account, as tiny strands of oil can also blow around and make a mess.

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Grab your drain plug without letting it fall into the oil pan and inspect its condition. Clean it off and replace with a new drain plug and washer if necessary. Tighten it with a three-eighth-inch ratchet or similar device without using a hammer or other tool as leverage to avoid over-tightening.

Lumax Drainmaster Oil Drain Pan and Waste Storage

This oil drain pan will both catch your oil and make it easy to recycle with a spout for pouring it back out. It has Drain Direct built in so there’s no need for a tub or funnel and it has an E-Z handle and E-Z roll design with large wheels for simple transport. The opening is 8″ large so there’s plenty of space for oil to drain into underneath your car, and you can close it back up and drain the oil somewhere else easily.

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Irwin Tools 8-Inch Adjustable Wrench

This adjustable wrench will help you loosen up the oil plug and complete any other steps where a few extra inches of knuckle space will be helpful. It’s made of durable chrome vanadium and has ProTouch grips for extra hand comfort and to reduce fatigue. It has extra-wide capacity for larger jobs and a hang hole so you can easily store it when the job is done.

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DEWALT Quick Release 3/8-Inch Ratchet

This ratchet has a 5 degree arc swing and a compact head design for easy maneuverability into tight areas, like underneath your car. It has a 72-tooth gear system inside for high-torque ratcheting and has a contoured handle with anti-slip grooves for both control and comfort. It’s made of chrome vanadium steel that’s ultra-durable and will last for years.

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Ironclad General Utility Work Gloves

To keep your hands from getting too messy or feeling the heat underneath your engine these work gloves are the perfect barrier. They’ve got thermoplastic rubber knuckles to provide both abrasion and impact protection, and they have a terry cloth sweat wipe built in to the back of the thumb. The adjustable hook and loop closure provides a secure fit and they’re machine washable.

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Dorman 65215 AutoGrade Oil Drain Plug

Dorman offers a direct replacement for this oil drain plug so you’ll get a great fit each time. They’re built to meet strict engineering standards and the rubber expanding plugs eliminate the need to replace the entire pan to save you labor and money. This product offers you the ability to enter the year, make and model of your car to ensure a quality fit.

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4. Change Your Oil Filter

The next step is to change your oil filter. Note — your oil filter may be accessible underneath your hood, depending on the make and model of your car. Use an oil filter removal wrench that’s custom-made to wrap around the filter and loosen it. Their sealing gaskets tighten over time with use so it may be a bit tight, you shouldn’t install it tightly however. Once the oil filter loosens oil will start to gush out, so make sure you’ve got your oil pan directly underneath for a clean drain.

Use rags to clean the surrounding area where the filter goes, paying close attention to the sealing surface. Make sure the O-ring is also removed in case it stuck itself to the surface, as double stacking these will prevent the next filter from sealing and floor your engine with oil.

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Grab your new filter and smear a bit of oil on the O-ring before installing it. Spin it gently into place as the O-ring finds a new seal. Confirm on the oil filter’s box how tight of a turn you should take, and then take a sharpie and mark on the filter where you’re starting so you don’t go beyond this. Most filters don’t go more than 3/4 of a turn after the O-ring has found its first seal.

Fram Extra Guard Passenger Car Spin-On Oil Filter

This car filter comes with proven protection for up to 5,000 miles and is built to install easily, with spin-on application. This lessens the need to use a wrench, and makes it perfect for everyday drivers doing their own maintenance on their cars. It’s made for use with conventional oil and has 95% dirt-trapping efficiency. This item also offers the option to enter your car make and model to ensure a good fit.

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WORKPRO Adjustable Oil Filter Pliers

These pliers are made specifically for grabbing and yanking on oil filters above or below your car’s engine. They have a permalock fastener build in that eliminates the possibility of nut and bolt failure and the soft, nonslip grips can give you leverage when working with precision in a tight space. They’re made to accommodate most car filter types.

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5. Add New Oil

After ensuring that the oil drain bolt and oil filter are both in place and sufficiently tightened you can add in your new oil. Head back up under the hood and place a funnel into the slot where your oil cap was.

Pour in approximately one quart less than what your car’s manual recommends, and save the rest for later. You don’t want to add too much or spill any oil outside of the designated area.

Replace your oil cap and start your engine. Let the engine run and circulate the fresh oil in its system for about 30 seconds and then turn the ignition off and check under the car for leaks. Once you’ve ensured that everything is squared away, you can lower the car off the ramps.

KarZone All-Purpose Automotive Funnels

These funnels are made to be used with oils, lubricants and other chemicals having to do with your vehicle. They’re 11.4″ in length giving you plenty of room to distance yourself from the oil tank itself and is made of non-toxic materials.

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