Changing oil regularly is an important maintenance task that can help keep your vehicle in tiptop condition. Instead of taking your car to a lube shop or service center, consider changing your own oil. This may seem daunting, but it's a relatively easy task if you know how to do it the right way. Follow this comprehensive guide to proper DIY oil change.

Why Should You Change Your Own Oil?

Change Your Own Engine Oil

Image via Flickr by shixart1985

Unlike some other vehicle maintenance tasks, changing oil is something that doesn't require professional knowledge and equipment. It's a simple task that you can do with just a few tools. If you're able to change your own oil, you can save a substantial amount of time and money over the long run. You no longer have to pay for oil change service and sit in the waiting room at your local lube shop or service center.

Another reason why you should change your own oil is because it gives you an opportunity to gain some control over your vehicle's maintenance. While you're under your car, you can also look around to see if there are rusty parts or other problems that need attention. If you can identify and fix problems early, you can prevent them from leading to costly repairs.

What Tools and Supplies Do You Need?

The tools and supplies for changing the oil in your vehicle can be found in auto parts stores. The following is a list of things you need.

  • Jack stands or ramps.
  • Box-end or socket wrench for removing drain plug.
  • Oil filter wrench.
  • Funnel.
  • Oil drain pan.
  • Latex gloves.
  • Oil.
  • Oil filter.
  • Drain plug washer if applicable.

How Can You Know You're Using the Right Oil?

Before you go to your local auto parts store to get your tools and supplies, it's essential that you check your owner's manual to determine the type and amount of oil you need. For example, if your vehicle requires 5.7 quarts, go ahead and buy six quarts. It's tempting to buy a five-quart jug because it's cheaper than several smaller jugs. However, you may prefer smaller jugs because they're easier to pour steadily. Also, a large container of leftover oil requires more storage space.

Additionally, you have to make sure the viscosity of the oil matches your car's engine. There are two numbers that define an oil's viscosity. The first number ends with a "W" suffix and measures how the oil flows when it's cold. The second number indicates how the oil flows at a higher temperature. The smaller the number, the easier the oil will flow. Therefore, a 5W-30 flows better than a 10W-30 at cold temperatures, while a 10W-30 flows easier than a 10W-40 at high temperatures. You can find the recommended oil viscosity for your vehicle in your owner's manual.

How to Change Your Own Oil

If you're changing your own oil for the first time, it'll probably take you an hour to complete the task. Subsequently, you should be able to get the job done in about half an hour. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to do an oil change yourself.

Step 1: Jack Up Your Vehicle

First, you need to lift your vehicle high enough so that you'll have room to work under it. You can use jack stands, ramps, or a hoist, but make sure you'll be absolutely safe. Avoid using only a floor jack to hold up your car.

Step 2: Remove the Undertray

Most modern vehicles have a plastic undertray to protect vital components of the engine and improve aerodynamics. You need to remove this cover to gain access to the oil pan and oil filter. The undertray is usually held on with screws, bolts, or plastic clips, which you can unfasten with basic hand tools.

Step 3: Unscrew the Drain Plug and Drain the Oil

Place your oil drain pan under the drain plug in such a way that it'll catch all the oil coming out of the oil pan. Most vehicles have at least a gallon of oil in the crankcase. Use your wrench to loosen the drain plug and then unscrew it with your hand. Once you remove the drain plug from the oil pan, the oil will begin to pour out. Let the engine drain until the flow of oil is reduced to a trickle.

Step 4: Remove the Oil Filter

The oil filter is the softball-size cylindrical component that's attached to your vehicle's engine. Using your oil-filter wrench, loosen it until the oil begins to come out and drip down into your oil drain pan. Let the flow subside before removing the filter completely. Before you proceed to install the new filter, make sure you remove the old oil-filter gasket as well. Failure to do so can cause the new oil to leak and result in catastrophic engine failure.

Step 5: Reinstall the Drain Plug and Filter

Screw the drain plug back on until it's snug, but not too tight. Bear in mind that over-tightening can cause damage to both the drain plug and oil pan. Next, apply a thin coating of oil around the rubber gasket on your new oil filter. Reinstall the filter, but avoid screwing too hard. It should be a little tighter than hand-tight.

Step 6: Refill the Oil

After reinstalling the drain plug and oil filter, put the undertray back on and lower your vehicle back to the ground. Then, open the hood and unscrew the oil cap. Use your funnel to fill the engine with the right amount of oil.

Step 7: Check the Oil Level

After waiting several minutes for the new oil to settle into the oil pan, check the oil to make sure it's at the proper level. Pull out the dipstick, use a paper towel to wipe away the oil, reinsert and then remove the dipstick, and see if the oil level is lined up with the "full" mark on the dipstick.

If you're still unsure how to change the oil in your Subaru or prefer to leave the task in the hands of professionals, you can contact us to schedule a service appointment

Categories: Service

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