Tip #1: Refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines
Always consult your vehicle’s manufacturer guidelines for oil change specifications. This includes the type of oil, quantity or blend, and any specific recommendations. Using the wrong oil can result in reduced lubrication and a shorter engine lifespan. Take the time to research and understand what your car requires.
Tip #2: Use the correct oil weight
Each engine has its own specific oil weight requirement. Check the oil fill cap or a sticker under the hood to find the recommended weight for your engine. Ensure that you match the recommended weight exactly. Using the wrong oil weight can impact engine performance and efficiency.
Tip #3: Prioritize safety with protective gear
When performing an oil change at home, prioritize safety by wearing rubber gloves and keeping clean towels nearby to quickly clean up any spills. Use a tarp or similar material underneath the oil pan to protect your driveway from oil stains and spills.
Tip #4: Allow the engine to cool down
Before starting an oil change, let your car sit for 20-30 minutes to allow the engine to cool down. This prevents the risk of burns from hot oil. If you need to warm up the oil for easier draining, run the engine for only 2 minutes, ensuring it doesn’t get too hot.
Tip #5: Use a suitable drain pan
Use a drain pan specifically designed for collecting oil during the oil change process. These pans are available at auto stores and help ensure safe and secure draining of the oil. Consider using a funnel-top drain pan or one with reinforced handles for easier handling and to minimize the chance of spills.
Tip #6: Get a grip on stubborn oil filters
Removing oil filters can be challenging, especially with oily hands. Consider using specialized gripping oil change tools available at auto stores. Clamp-style or 3-jaw adjustable wrenches are great options to help you easily remove stubborn oil filters. Choose a tool that fits your needs and budget.
Tip #7: Ensure a proper seal on the new filter
To prevent leaks, it’s important to let the new oil filter dry properly before installation. Wet filters can result in a poor seal, causing loose-fitting and leaky filters over time. Fill the new filter about halfway with oil and spread a small amount around the filter’s seal to ensure a perfect seal when installing.
Tip #8: Direct the oil into the engine
To avoid spills and ensure all the oil goes into the engine, use an effective funnel and pour the oil at the correct angle. Turn the spout of the oil container so that it is positioned at the top over the funnel, and pour slowly. This prevents air from causing the oil to spurt or gurgle while pouring.
Tip #9: Responsibly dispose of used oil
Properly disposing of used engine oil is essential for both environmental protection and compliance with local laws. Many local auto shops accept used oil for recycling. Ensure you dispose of your used oil responsibly to contribute to a cleaner environment.
Tip #10: Regularly check the dipstick
The engine’s dipstick is a key tool for maintaining your car and monitoring oil levels. Look for a bright yellow ring or handle to locate the dipstick. After pulling it out, wipe it off with a rag or cloth, reinsert it, and then pull it out again to check the oil level marking. Check the dipstick after every oil change and periodically while driving to detect any potential oil leaks. Keeping an eye on the dipstick ensures your oil level is appropriate and helps identify any issues.
What Risks Are Involved?
Undertaking a DIY oil change comes with potential risks and mistakes that should be acknowledged before attempting it yourself. While it can be a cost-effective option, it’s important to be aware of the possible issues that may arise, such as:
- Mileage tracking: Failing to keep track of the mileage between oil changes can lead to extended oil usage, reducing its effectiveness and potentially causing damage to the engine.
- Incorrect oil selection: Choosing the wrong type or weight of oil for your vehicle can impact its performance and lubrication capabilities, potentially leading to engine damage or reduced lifespan.
- Improper oil filter sealing: Inadequate sealing of the oil filter can result in leaks and oil loss, which may cause engine problems or even complete failure if left unaddressed.
- Neglecting the filter’s O-ring: For filters equipped with an O-ring, forgetting to replace or properly position it during the oil change can lead to leaks and compromise the filtration system’s efficiency.
- Overfilling or underfilling: Filling the engine with too much or too little oil can cause issues. Overfilling can lead to excessive pressure, oil foaming, and potential seal damage. Underfilling can result in insufficient lubrication, leading to increased wear and reduced engine performance.
It’s crucial to educate yourself, follow proper procedures, and exercise caution during a DIY oil change to minimize these risks and ensure a successful maintenance task. If you’re uncertain or uncomfortable with performing the oil change yourself, seeking professional assistance is always a viable option.