The Ultimate Guide To Oil Change For Beginners

mechanic oil change

So you want to do your oil change yourself to save money and be sure about what’s put inside your car!

In this article, you will access the ultimate step-by-step guideline geared for beginners with no prior experience.

So that, by the end of this article, you will be an oil change expert!

A lot of oil change shops use cheap oil and cheap filters so by doing the job yourself, you are saving money and making sure that the job is being done right!

What do you need to do for an oil change?

Tools to jack up your car

  • Ramps or jack and jack stands

Tool for the oil change:

  1. ratchet and sockets
  2. Gloves to protect your skin (oil is really nasty for your skin)
  3. Paper towel to clean up any mess
  4. New oil
  5. New oil filter
  6. Oil filter wrench (optional)
  7. Oil catch pan
  8. Funnel to avoid a big mess on your engine

How to find the right oil?

To find the right oil for your car, check your owner’s manual.

It will tell you how much you’re going to need and the viscosity of the oil.

It is important to use the oil recommended by the car manufacturer to avoid any problem with your engine.

The same thing for the oil filter!

If it is not in your owner’s manual, google it or ask in your automotive component shop.

Now that you have everything let’s get started!

1. Jack up your car

Jack stands

Before you jack up your car, make sure the handbrake or e-brake is on and that the vehicle is in park for automatic or in 1st gear for manual cars.

Place the jack underneath the jacking point (look for some strong piece of frame). Jack up your car.

Place the jack stands under the car where there is a big and strong piece of metal frame.

Lower the car down on the jack stands.


The use of ramps makes it even easier. Place the 2 ramps in front of your front wheels. Drive the car on top of the ramps.

Don’t forget to activate the handbrake of the e-brake and put your car in park )or 1st gear for a manual)

Now that your car is on jack stands or ramp, you should have plenty of access to the oil drain plug (or drain bolt)

Oftentimes it will be written, or it can be found near the oil filter. Worst case look at your owner’s manual or even online.

For some cars, you may have to remove a protective shield under your car to access the engine.

Some cars have the oil filter on top of the engine.

2. Drain the old oil

Once you locate the drain bolt, slide the oil collection pan under your car. There will be a bit of pressure when you pent the bolt so place the collection pan in the direction the drain plug is aiming at.

Grab your ratchet and the right socket and undo the oil drain.

If the bolt is too hard to undo, no worries, you can use a breaker bar that will give you more leverage. The longer the bar, the more leverage you will get.

Once the drain bolt is loose, undo it slowly by hand while making sure your oil pan is well placed.

Wait for all the oil to drain out

Clean that spilled around the drain plug with a paper towel, always keep the area clean of oil.

For some drain plugs, there is a gasket to seal the plug. If that’s the case, it is recommended to replace the gasket.

Now tighten the drain plug. Use a small ratchet as you’re just tightening until it’s snug. You don’t want to overtighten it! So when it feels tight, you just want to give a little extra turn (1/16 of a turn). That’s it.

3. Change the oil filter

You can try to remove the oil filter by hand. If it is too tight, you can try to use an oil filter wrench that will help you unscrew the old filter. Keep in mind you can to replace it by a new filter so it doesn’t matter if you damage and deform the old filter.

When removing the filter, make sure the oil collection pan underneath the oil filter you’re about to remove because this is going to leak oil. 

Use a paper towel to clean immediately any oil spill on your car.

Now grab the new filter. If the filter is located underneath your vehicle, it is good to pre-fill it with oil before you install it. It prevents the car from running dry when you first start it up as there would be no oil in the filter.

Then put a bit of oil around the gasket of the filter to lubricate it, prevent leaks and make it easier to remove the next time you change it.

Screw your filter on its location. Just tighten the filter by hand. No need to use any tool, just tighten it by hand.

4. Refill your engine with new oil

It is okay to keep your car on the jack or the ramp when filling oil. Locate the oil cap in your engine. Before removing it, clean the surrounding of the cap to avoid having that dirt entering the engine as you pour new oil.

Remove the cap

Place the funnel.

Before you start pouring the oil, check the owner’s manual for the amount of oil your car needs so that you feel the exact amount. 

Have a paper towel nearby just in case. Avoid spilling on the engine.

Start pouring the oil into the funnel.

If you tilt sideways the bottle of oil, you will less bubble and smoother delivery of the oil into your engine preventing any messy situation.

Monitor the volume of oil as you pour. The goal is to put enough oil without overfilling.

When complete, close the cap.

Start the car and make sure you are not getting any warning on the dashboard

If there is no problem, get the car off the jack stand.

Now you need to check the oil. Let the engine sit for 5 minutes so that all the oil drops back down.

Pull the dipstick out and clean it with a paper towel.  Put the dipstick back in and make sure it is pushed down all the way.

Pull the dipstick back out for a check. On the tip of the dipstick, you should have 2 indicators, one for the top and one for the bottom. Make sure your oil level is in between the top and bottom levels.

If the oil level is too low, you need to add more oil.

That’s it! Your car is ready for new adventures …

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