By this point, we’ve explored the important components of an oil change: your oil and your oil filter. Now, let’s cover the basics of an oil change.  

  • Necessities. Assemble all your tools, components and other implements. You know you need fresh oil and a filter, but make sure you have these other important items on hand.
    • Oil Filter Wrench. These come in different sizes and shapes to fit a wide array of filters, making their removal and installation much easier.
    • Oil Drain Pan. Your waste oil needs to go somewhere. The better designed ones seal with a screw cap and feature a plug – completely containing the mess.
    • Disposable Gloves and Rags. Oil is messy business!
    • Funnel. To make sure oil only ends up where you need it to be.
    • Basic Hand Tools. To take things apart and put them back together again.

  • The Oil Pan. Get under your vehicle. For more low-riding vehicles, you may have to utilize a jack and jack stands, or ramps. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with everything you’ll be working with. Locate your oil filter – by now you should be familiar with what they look like – and your oil pan. Your oil pan is where the oil sits when it’s not circulating through your engine. The appearance of the oil pan will differ from vehicle to vehicle. Identifying characteristics include: position on the underbelly of the motor and the oil drain plug. Refer to the graphic on the left for examples of oil pans.

  • Drain the Oil. Position your oil drain pan under your oil pan. If there’s a plug in it, make sure that’s removed. Find the appropriate tool to remove the oil drain plug. I prefer a socket wrench, but others prefer box end wrenches to loosen the plug. Once the oil drain plug is finger lose – meaning you can loosen it further with just your fingers – put your tool down and remove the drain plug by hand. This way, you won’t lose the drain plug in with your oil. I don’t know about you, but fishing in a bucket of oil is not my idea of fun. Let the oil completely drain from your vehicle. Wipe the oil plug and the seating surface – where your oil drain plug sits against the oil pan – clean with a rag. Install your new crush gasket and reinstall your oil drain plug. Screw in the plug by hand until it’s finger tight – as tight as you can get it by hand – then use your socket/wrench to turn it another half turn. Don’t over tighten the plug! Doing so could strip out the threads or simply make it too difficult to remove next time.

  • The Old Oil Filter. Don’t push your oil drain pan away just yet! Position it under your oil filter. Even though you’ve drained most of your oil already, your oil filter will still hold some old oil. Once your drain pan is in place, loosen your oil filter with an oil filter wrench. Once the filter is finger loose, finish removing the oil filter. Please the oil filter onto the oil drain pan so it can continue to drain into the pan. Use your rag to clean the seating surface for the oil filter.

  • The New Oil Filter. Crack open your new oil. Pour a little bit into the new filter. We do this to eliminate the chances of having a dry start – your engine running without oil coating the components. Dip your (gloved) finger into the new oil and coat the rubber seal on the oil filter. This helps create a seal. By hand, install the new oil filter. Once the filter is finger tight, use your oil filter wrench to turn the filter another half turn. Now you can clean up and get out from under the vehicle!

  • Fresh Oil. Pop and prop your hood. Remove your oil cap and place your funnel into the spot your cap just uncovered. Slowly, as to not spill, pour your new oil into the funnel. Once all of the new oil is in the engine, remove the funnel – wipe it clean with a rag to avoid drips – and replace your oil cap.

  • Finishing Up. If you haven’t already, lower your vehicle from the ramps or jack stands you used. Start your vehicle to move oil through your engine – and fully fill your oil filter – and you’re done!