Editor’s Piece: How to effectively change oil like a pro

Changing car oil yourself may seem , dirty or complex. But it isn’t and in this post we’ll guide you through removing the former oil, cleaning out and replacing the oil with a new one.

car oil change


Time1 hour (First time)
30 minutes (every other time)


WrenchTo remove oil Plug
Oil filter wrenchTo remove spin on type of oil filter
Oil drain PanTo stop the oil from spilling unto the floor
FunnelTo ensure steady oil change
Latex GlovesNot mandatory, but they could come in handy
Car Jacks
This depends on your car’s ground clearance
OilOf course we need this
Oil FilterTo maintain quality in change
Replacement of drain plugThis depends on your application



       Generally, Oil change tends to seem a bit hectic, but in fact it is a chore that any DIY car owner can, and should be able to do. The Importance of oil change cannot be overemphasized as oil change makes your car engine last longer.

Recently, Oil change shops have been taking more than you would have spent if you did it yourself, necessitating the writing of this post as you could save about 30% of your former spending.

Getting Started

Know the type and amount of oil needed

Now before rushing off to the auto parts store to get supplies, one thin you need to do is to consult the owners manual, to know just how much oil and which type of oil is needed. This step is very important as you need to know the manufacturer’s recommendation for oil viscosity

Check to see if the manual mentions any specific oil requirements as defined by the by the American Petroleum Institute (API) or the International Lubricant Standardization Approval Committee (ILSAC.) Sometimes synthetic oil is required.Other times it’s not necessary. And sometimes its use is implied by additional requirements.

Recent car models depend on oil pressure to regulate valve timing, so make sure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendation.

I’ll be using the Infiniti FX35 2013 for this tutorial, and it requires 4.9 liter / 5.2 U.S. qt so I’ll buy six liters instead.

Get your materials together

Now you’re going to need all or almost all the tools mentioned above. It is advised that you do not use the jack that comes with the car as they are very risky, instead get a better jack from your auto parts store. The funnel I used is a plastic soda bottle, which I had cut off the end.

It looked like this

You can buy filters from your auto parts store. Usually oil filters come with a new drain plug washer, but sometimes they don’t. Make sure to ask if you’ll need to buy one or if it’s included. Do not overlook oil filters as cars have evolved from what they were.

If your car manual recommends extended oil change(maybe 5,000 miles instead of 2,000 miles), you must buy an oil filter that’s sure to run for that long. So make sure you don’t go all out on oil and then buy a lower quality filter.

Also read: Our guide for staying safe in your car During COVID-19 pandemic

Preparation and Setup

pouring the oil

It is advisable to have your engine and oil warm (not oven hot), try warming up the car and let it cool off for some time (but don’t let it get too cold) moderation is key.

If you need to raise the car, this is a good time to do it, with the safety stands and car jacks you had purchased earlier. If you are on asphalt, you should place plywood under the jackstand for more support. After that you could spread plastic sheeting on the ground and drive your car above it. This helps reduce work in the post oil change phase, so instead of cleaning up oil spills you can just throw the sheeting away

If your car has an undercover take it off gently.

If your oil plug and filter are apart, you have to reposition the drain pan after you have drained the oil and before removing the filter. What I did for the FX35 was to complete draining the oil and replugging it, before going on to work on the filter itself.

If in your case the two (oil filter and plug) are together then you don’t have to go through this.

Draining the Oil

changing car oil
changing car oil

Now that we’re done with setting up, its time to drain the oil. Though its important to place the drain pan under the drain plug you should also make sure, you don’t put it directly under the drain plug, the angle at which the drain plug is positioned will cause the oil to come out of angle.

You’ll have to offset the pan in a particular way for about five inches, if you were outside you’ll also have to take wind direction and breeze into account.

Once you’re done with draining the oil, remove the old oil filter and in its place install the new one. Make sure you remember to put the new oil back in place before starting the engine.

Now you should wear your gloves as mentioned above, once the oil drain plug is off things would start to get a bit messy.

A three-eighth-inch drive ratchet is perfectly fine, as far as you remind yourself to not use its extra leverage to over-tighten the drain plug when you put the oil drain plug back later.

Replacing the Oil Filter.

Generally filters do not have a default position or color, they could be at the front, rear or side of the engine. You may be able to spot an oil filter by its color as they are usually blue, white or black.

Once you’ve discovered your oil filter, start slowly when you’ve removed the oil drain plug as any faltering can make the oil dribble unto your arm. Another reason why you should make sure your oil is not boiling when you are changing it.

Inspect and clean the oil drain plug while the rest of the oil is being drained. This is when the new drain plug washer would come in handy.

If you need a replacement for your drain plug washer, make sure the old one isn’t stuck to the engine’s oil pan — so you don’t unknowingly stack a new washer on the old one.

Tighten the drain plug, the square end of a combination wrench should do. Make sure though that you don’t go overboard as over tightening could make ensuing oil changes a nightmare

Dip a finger into the oil and smear it on the gasket ring of the filler, this serves two purposes; it will lubricate the gasket and create a good seal for the new filter

When replacing oil filters, make sure you don’t tighten it too much as over tightened filters would be a pain to remove later, because the sealing gaskets swells over time.

Adding the Oil

changing car oil

For this part it is advisable to remove your gloves, so as to enable you get a good grip.

The oil cap should still be off and kept safely aside, now open your oil jug gently, holding the oil bent sideways with the top slightly touching the filler this will allow the oil come out smoothly without bubbling .

Remember to not put more oil than required. I had highlighted this earlier, but if you’ve forgotten you should find this information in your owner’s manual under “Capacities”.

All done, now replace the oil filler cap and turn it clockwise (i.e from right to left) until it is well in place, to prevent oil spillage.

Checking the Oil Level.

changing car oil

Firstly, start your car to check the oil pressure. If the indicator light is on, you may not have put in enough oil. It is also possible that some oil is still leaking out.

Leave your car in “Park” or “Neutral” and make sure your parking brake is on, then check to see if the oil is leaking.

Check to see if the filler cap or the oil drain plug is properly closed, if it isn’t it the oil may leak slowly.

If you notice a leak, turn the engine off for about ten minutes before crawling back under to tighten the leak.

After that, run the engine again for about a minute to get the pressure up.

You could also try checking the oil level, using the dipstick, to ascertain the level. If you feel that the oil is not enough, wait for about ten minutes before filling the oil and rechecking.

Cleaning Up

Wipe up any oil spills with a rag or rinse it off with water. Although it’s not bad to get a little oil spills on the crankcase while you were pouring. It may smoke when the engine heats up, leading to a smell similar to burning oil . It can also make your interior smell bad.

Transfer the old oil from the oil drain pan to the empty oil container, with the aid of your funnel. It is advisable to label this container “old oil” so as not to confuse it for the real thing.

Olamide Adeleke

I writes about cars as a hobby, study at the University as an obligation and when I'm not doing any of this, I play racing and battle royale games as a pastime, I also love reading wattpad books and comics

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5 months ago

What if my car indicator light is still on

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