One of the most important jobs to keep an engine running smoothly is to change the engine oil regularly. Engine oil becomes used and gets contaminated with particles, such as burnt carbon, which if not removed will cause wear on the engine. While most people pay a mechanic to service their car and change the oil, it is a very simple job that almost anybody can do.
To change your engine oil, you need several things: fresh oil, a new oil filter, something to catch the used oil, something to store the used oil, and a funnel. Your car handbook will tell you how much engine oil your engine holds, while new filters are available from car part shops and on the internet. An oil pan is best to catch the used engine oil, which can be poured into an empty oil container. It is important to dispose of it properly, as used oil is environmentally toxic. Most local authority recycling centres have places to dispose of used oil.
Emptying the oil
When emptying engine oil it is important to run the engine until it is hot. This is because engine oil is less viscose (gloopy) when warm and will be easier to empty. It is also important to ensure the car is on level ground. After you have run the engine, place the oil pan underneath the sump (bottom of the engine). Remove the filler cap to allow the oil to run freely through the engine then undo the sump nut. You may have to jack up the car and place it on jack stand to do this, or you may be able to reach. The sump nut is a bolt at the bottom of the engine. While underneath the car, it is worthwhile checking the engine sump is not cracked or damaged, which can happen when you drive over rocks or hit potholes. If the sump is damaged, it will need replacing, but to do this you will have to remove the engine, which means you will have to find somewhere that sells engine hoists.
Changing the filter
Once the engine oil has drained out, you need to replace the filter. This is normally easy to unscrew. However, it is best to allow the engine to cool to avoid being burnt. Once you have removed the filter, smear a thin layer of fresh oil on the bottom of the new filter, as this will ensure a proper seal. Then screw to attach.
To refill the engine, remember to put the sump nut back in place, then using the funnel refill to the manufacturer’s specifications. Wait ten minutes or so, and then check the level on the dipstick. Replace the filler cap and you are done.