Oil Changes: A Few Things To Remember During Routine Maintenance On Your Car
Manual at home oil changes have become rarer among car owners in the United States, for several reasons: the procedure is relatively cheap at auto repair shops, drivers are less willing to operate on their own cars in modern times, and few people know how to perform an oil change so few are capable of instructing others. Despite their decline in popularity, home oil changes are actually relatively simple to undertake and should only take semi-experienced amateur mechanics about twenty minutes. Here are a few helpful tips to simplify your oil change experience — this is not a step-by-step how-to guide, just a few tidbits of important knowledge:
1. Gather the proper information about your car
In order to determine which oil types and filter unit to buy, you must know several things about your automobile: the make, model, model year, engine displacement type and suggested oil type. This information should be present in your owner’s manual, but any online or physical car part store will have a tool that you can use to look up oil type and filter size even if you know only some of this basic information.
2. Make sure you have the right supplies — both tools and materials
Oil changes can be accomplished with a relatively limited set of tools and materials. However, missing even one of the following items can doom you to an embarrassing and potentially costly mid-change call to a car parts servicing branch. Before you start the procedure, make sure you have:
- Safety glasses
- Rubber Mallet
- Socket wrench set
- Basic materials (oil, filter, filter gasket)
- Container/drain pan for old oil
Having the necessary tools and materials lined up before you start will save you lots and time and frustration, and will certainly make all subsequent oil changes much easier. 3,000 miles comes around more often than you’d think, and the next time an at home oil change beckons, you won’t be lacking in preparation!
3. Drain and Dispose of Your Car’s Oil Properly
Drainage and disposal are not ancillary procedures: if they are not done correctly, the entire oil change was not done correctly. In order to properly drain the old oil from your automobile, the engine should be left running for a few minutes beforehand so that the oil is warm and flows out more easily. It is equally important to turn the car off after raising it, either with a jack or with steel ramps — an active engine and disengaged wheels could make for a messy situation.
Oil disposal should also be accomplished with an eye toward the environment. There are hefty fines and possible even community service waiting for drivers who empty their old oil onto the street or ground. Luckily, many car service providers, gas stations and even some dealerships allow drivers to bring in oil to be disposed of properly. Simply drain the old oil from the drain pan into a safely sealed container and drop it off at an approved facility — it’s that easy.
4. Exercise Safety and Caution
The oil exiting the car will likely be very hot, meaning that you should be wearing thick work gloves for the entire procedure. While re-inserting the oil into your car, you should always use a filter to make sure that no oil spills and your hands and car parts stay relatively oil free. Excessive oil waste is wasted money and potentially time, particularly if so much oil is wasted that there isn’t enough to fill the tank. Ensure that you are using jack stands IN ADDITION to a jack, and also make sure never to run the car while it is elevated — wait until the jack stands or ramps have been removed before gently running the car engine to get everything circulating again.
5. Check and Double Check Every Part of the Process
Although oil changes are relatively easy, forgetting to rescrew the oil cap or purchasing the wrong filter can be a catastrophic error. Make sure to take your time and, if you are a novice mechanic, ask for advice and guidance the first few times through the process. Knowing how to perform an oil change is one thing, but no one is immune from thoughtless errors. Take your time, accept guidance and keep it simple — you’ll be replacing filters and draining oil by the liter in no time!