Changing your Motor Oil

The Benefits of Changing Your Motor Oil

Save money

Changing your motor oil can cost around £30 sometimes more, but half of that will be labor costs. Dont get me wrong you can find the odd deal every now and then, but they’re few and far between. Considering the price of changing your oil will only set you back around £15 for a new filter and some new oil. It may not seem like a lot but it’s a saving non the less £15 could go on a crate of beer. Why waste it on a mechanics wage, learn to change your motor oil today!

Items won’t vanish from your car 

Ok, this has only happened to me once and it may be just a one off but can you really trust everyone with your belongings? Better to be safe than sorry either empty the car or do it yourself.

It feels great! 

A great way to boost your manly confidence like learning a manual skill and getting the job done yourself. Knowing full well that you have done something new, different and also saved yourself some money in the process is a great feeling. It may only be changing your motor oil but it’s better than saying “I did nothing on Sunday” right?

How Often Should You be Changing Your Motor Oil? 

Ok this isn’t a straight forward answer and I am not saint on this as I used to get an oil change every 20,000 miles oh how times have changed heck I even waited 60,000 miles once. The common number that seems to spring up by car dealers and mechanics is every 3,000 miles or every three months.

Now the problem is because this has been spread around so much people think its some sort of law that it needs to be done. The 3,000 mile rule is only good advice… if your a mechanic and want to make loads of money. Most modern engines last much longer than 3,000 miles in between oil changes. I normally hear people waiting around 6,000 – 10,000 miles before they need a change but like my own it used to go 20,000 before I used to get it changed.

There really isn’t a perfect number to adhere by but the bottom line, it’s longer than 3,000 miles. Mechanics and dealers advertise the 3,000 mile rule because frankly it means drivers come in more often to get their oil changed. And of course this means more money for the garages.

Personally I suggest you forget the silly 3.000 miles rule and get hold of your owner’s manual to find out how many miles your car can go in between oil changes. If you dont have one handy you can always do a quick google search or grab a haynes manual.

When changing your motor oil you should inspect the quality of the oil and see if there is anything unusual in the oil filler pipeline. These may be signs to a bad head gasket or “old” oil.

Before you begin changing your motor oil make sure you have the correct tools for the job

You don’t need much to change your motor oil. To make things easier we have listed the tools required below:

New oil filter

Different cars require different sized oil filters. Never assume that it will fit the last thing you want to do is get an oil filter off and find out you don’t have one that fits. You can check your car’s owner’s manual to find out what size you need or just pop off to a local auto store. Just make sure you know your car’s year, model, and make as they require this information to find the most suitable oil filter for your car. You must make sure your oil filter is correct to ensure you do the job correctly when changing your motor oil.

New Motor Oil

You need enough oil to refill your engine after you drain it. This is down to what car you drive. Personally I normally grab a 5L batch and make it last. Before you begin changing your motor oil make sure you get the correct oil grade for your car. There are plenty of sites online that will show you what oil you need by just entering your REG number.

Oil filter wrench

changing your motor oil, oil wrench and socket set

oil wrench

To be successful in changing your Motor Oil you need to get the right tool for the job and an oil filter wrench normally does the trick. Sometimes you can get the filter off just by unscrewing it by hand. Other times you can just use a universal oil filter wrench in extreme cases you need a specialist tool. Majority of the time an oil filter wrench will be just fine. Some fit onto the end of a socket wrench others are complete tools you can find them at your local auto shop. Just make sure you get the right size filter wrench attachment for the size of your oil filter. The universal ones normally fit a few sizes as they use a chain to grip the filter. They range in price from £5 – £15.


Socket wrench set

Most households have one and if you don’t its about time you got one! You’ll need a socket wrench to unscrew the drain plug and maybe to unscrew the oil filter depending on the car.

A container to catch the old oil

Anything will work. Just make sure its big enough to catch the oil. The last thing you want is Oil everywhere when changing your motor oil. Its not easy to wash out.

A funnel 

Not 100% necessary but helps speed up the job of pouring the oil back into the car.

A few old rags 

Well, let’s face it we all have our clumsy moments. Things can get quite messy when changing your motor oil so be careful.

Car ramps or jack and axle stands 

You will need to raise the car when changing your motor oil. All cars come with a jack there not the best in the world but should be ok for this job I personally recommend you get a larger jack something thats more suited to the weight of the car. In most cases you will need to remove the driver’s side front wheel to get to the Oil filter easily. Some cars make it easier than others. I prefer a jack and axle stands. For a jack and axle stand itll set you back around £35 whereas ramps well they can get quite expensive.

If you have any problems at all finding the tools for the job you can visit you local auto shop or if you live in the UK I normally find it best to use a site like Euro Car Parts as they stock the majority of tools needed for the job.

Warm up your car

This well help the oil flow easier and ensure that you drain all the old oil out of your engine block. An important thing to remember when changing your motor oil is to make sure most of the old oil is out. Make sure your oil is not too hot, just warm enough so it thins out a bit. The best way to do this is start you car and turn on your car heater let it idle till the car gets warm. Once you can feel the heater heat turn it off and you’re ready to drain the oil.

Park the car on a flat surface

Park your car on a flat surface and engage the parking break. Jack up the front of the car and remove the drivers side wheel and the wheel arch trim. 9/10 you will see the oil filter here. Don’t remove it just yet.

Pop the hood and remove the oil filler cap

Removing the oil filler cap can help the oil drain faster. It allows air to flow into the engine as the oil drains out.

Remove the oil plug

This is a key step when changing your motor oil as your wanting to remove all of the old oil inside the engine. Find the oil plug underneath your car. It’s not too hard find. You should see a fairly large bolt on the oil pan’s bottom. Grab your wrench or socket set and unscrewing the nut.

If the nut is too tight grab yourself a cheater bar or a long piece of metal that you can use as extra leverage to remove the nut.

Warning: Don’t remove the oil plug completely just yet you may spill oil everywhere.

Just loosen it enough so that you can start unscrewing it with your fingers. Now make sure before you remove the plug you have placed your drip pan underneath the hole. Double check that everything looks lined up, now remove the plug. Make sure you don’t lose the oil plug in the oil pan or else you’ll have to fish it back out which is quite messy.

Wait for oil to drain

Once you have removed the oil plug, let the oil drain out completely this is important when changing your motor oil. It can take around 2 minutes for most engines to drain. I normally go make a brew and come back.

changing your motor oil - Oil filter

Oil Filter

Remove the oil filter 

Now for the hard part, removing the oil filter. All cars are different and some cars place there oil filters in some pretty strange places making it difficult when changing your motor oil. Now you will want to get under you car for this to be easier. First to try to find something similar to your new oil filter. Sometimes it might make it easier if you remove the engine tray too if your having a hard time finding it. Some car manufacturers make it rather difficult when changing your motor oil, probably because they want you to go back to the dealership.

The problem is there isn’t a standard position for where oil filters go, so it could be on your engine’s side, back, bottom, or top. Now a huge problem is if car manufacturer decides to put your filter in a weird place, making it hard to remove. You might have to contort your arm in weird ways (this happens quite often when repairing cars) to unscrew it, but be assured you can remove it.

Unless a unique tool is needed as I found out on a friends Audi. One way to get people to come into the auto shop to change there oil… Sometimes you can simply unscrew the filter by hand. However, if it’s too tight, get our your oil filter tool and crack the seal on the filter. Turn it a little bit and then do the rest by hand.

Just make sure you have the oil pan ready as that oil is going to pour out when you remove that filter. Make sure that when removing the oil filter the rubber gasket comes off with it. If it stays on the car, the new filter won’t get an adequate seal on the engine.

Install the new oil filter 

Get some new oil on your finger and smear it on the gasket ring of your new filter. This helps to seat the filter and the gasket better on the engine. Thread the new filter onto the hole where the oil filter goes. Its not too hard to tighten these filters up. Just tighten it with your fingers until it stops turning. Then give it one more strong half turn. Some oil filters come with instructions on how many turns you need to give a filter to tighten it. So if in any doubt, follow the instructions.

Replace the oil plug

You should replace the sealing washer if its rubber there dirt cheap and if the old ones damaged it will just be a botched job. Unless you have a metal washer that’s in good condition I suggest you change it for the small amount it costs. Put the washer in place and thread the drain plug back into its hole. Now start tightening. When it’s nice and you can get back up and remove the drip pan if you “Think” you have done the right job.

Refill the engine with oil 

Ok a really important step when changing your motor oil make sure you don’t forget it! Place your funnel in the oil filler on the top of your engine and start filling your car up with new oil you can do this without a funnel but make sure you have a good aim don’t want to spill oil everywhere. Fill up the car and check you oil level every now and then to make sure you don’t over fill or underfill the car. Once the oil is all in, screw on the oil cap and close the hood.

Let the car run

Now that you’re finished changing your motor oil its time to start the car, let it run for about 5 minutes. This is an important stop as it has 2 benefits. First, it allows your engine to regain proper oil pressure which is something you really need for engine lubrication and performance. Second, it gives you a chance to see if you have any leaks near your oil plug and oil filter. Normally the job will be done correctly but if you see any leaks at all follow the previous steps and see what may have gone wrong. It most likely is not on tight enough or the washer needs replacing on either the drain plug of the filter.

Dispose of your old oil

When changing your motor oil you must dispose of your old motor oil correctly. You can pour your oil into some old milk cartons if you have nothing lying around and take it to your local disposal facility (make sure the container has a lid). Most local tips have the facility for these types of products. Do not pour it down the drain.

Congratulation it’s all done! It wasn’t that hard changing your motor oil now was it? You can now use that saved cash and treat yourself on a job well done. Unless you spent it on new tools, well you can always use them again. So now you can realise the real benefits of changing your motor oil.

Regards, Beat The Mechanic Team

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