How to Change Engine Oil?

Performing car maintenance at home may seem daunting even for the simplest tasks like engine oil change. However, changing your engine oil at home is less expensive and more convenient than driving to a mechanic shop.

I’ll show you how I change the engine oil at home in simplified steps. I’ll find out that changing your engine oil at home is even fun. But before walking you through how to change engine oil, let’s see the signs that you need an oil change.

how to change your oil and filter

What are the signs that you need an oil change?

There are different symptoms that let you know when to change your engine oil. I don’t wait to see these signs before changing my engine oil. It is better to follow the recommended interval and stick to it. However, some issues may arise before the recommended interval, requiring you to change the engine oil earlier.

I’ll outline these symptoms below. Check the motor oil condition, level, and recommended interval once you see any of these symptoms.

Dark or dirty motor oil

New motor oils have bright amber colors. If the oil gets dirty due to metal shavings from internal engine parts or gets old due to late oil changes, it’ll turn dark brown.

If you see grime or dirt on the dipstick, you have dirty engine oil that needs replacement. Dirty or gritty engine oil will cause lubrication issues.

Odd noise from the engine

Have you ever wondered why manufacturers recommend changing engine oil every 5,000 to 7,500? It is because motor oils lose their lubricating properties over time. Oils also get dirt and thicker after long use.

If the oil loses its lubricating properties, it’ll not lubricate internal engine parts properly. This will cause metal-to-metal contact. If you start hearing old noises from the engine, stop driving the vehicle. Check the engine oil and see if it is the problem and change it as needed.

Burnt oil smell

A burnt oil smell indicates something is wrong with the oil. In most cases, it means oil is dripping on hot engine parts. The oil could be leaking from the engine or the power steering. So, you have to track where the oil is coming from and proffer solutions.

Of course, oil leakage leads to an oil shortage. Thus, if the oil is dripping from the engine, you likely have low engine oil. In this case, you have to fix the leaking area before changing the oil.

Blue exhaust smoke

Let’s get this clear; grey or blue exhaust smoke doesn’t mean your engine oil needs replacement. Instead, it means there’s an oil leak somewhere in the engine.

This, however, shows the engine is likely running low on oil. So, you need to check the oil level and top it as required. After that, drive to a mechanic shop to have them repair the leaks before changing the oil.

Poor gas mileage

Engines with oil that is overdue for change can cause poor gas mileage. Overdue motor oil will thicken and cause engine sludge on the internal engine parts. Thicker oil and sludge will not allow the reciprocating engine parts to move as needed. This will cause the engine to work harder to stay at its peak performance.

The extra work will lead to high gas consumption. However, it’ll be unfair if I do not point out that several factors can cause poor gas mileage.

Slight engine overheating

Engine oils should be changed regularly and maintain their standard gauge. If the engine oil has overstayed, it won’t lubricate the internal engine parts properly. The lack of proper lubrication will cause the engine to heat up more, causing slight overheating. Changing the motor oil is all you need to fix this problem.

Illumination of warning lights

New modern cars feature several car sensors. These sensors work in harmony with the car computer to tell you what’s happening with the engine. Once you notice any strange light on the dashboard, contact your owner’s manual to see the meaning.

If you see a change engine soon warning light on the dashboard, it means you have to replace the engine oil. Check engine lights can appear on the dashboard for several reasons. It can also come on when the vehicle runs low on oil or needs replacement.

If you own a Honda car, A Honda service A1, B1, B2, B3, or B12 appearance on the dashboard shows it’s time to replace the engine oil. The letter A and B mean you should change the oil and filter, while the numbers indicate additional services to perform.

Illumination of oil pressure light means there’s low engine oil, the oil is dirty, or the oil pump is weak.

While there are several signs to watch out for, do not rely on them. Always stick to the recommended interval while watching out for these signs.

How to Change Engine Oil 

Changing engine oil at home is more convenient and affordable than having a service technician do the oil change. If you don’t know the recommended oil or the oil change interval for your specific vehicle, visit your owner’s manual. You’ll find the necessary information there.

Items and Tools Needed

  • Jack and Jack stand.
  • Oil filter wrench
  • Sizable socket & wrench for the oil drain
  • Oil Catch Pan
  • Hand gloves
  • Funnel
  • Oil filter
  • Recommended motor oil.

Step 1: Lift the car and remove the under guard.

Lift the car and remove the under guard

The first thing I do is to lift the vehicle high so I can easily slide under the car and have enough room to work.

Whether you’re using hoists, jack stands, or ramps, do not compromise safety for anything.

Note: Do not slide under a vehicle that is relaxing on only bottle or floor jacks.

Lift the vehicle and secure it with jack stands. Once I’m underneath the vehicle, I remove the under guard to access the drain plug. Slide under the car and remove the under guard covering the crankcase.

Step 2: Remove the drain plug

Remove the drain plug

The next thing I do is to remove the drain plug.

Grab your oil catch can drain bucket or any liquid-holding container and place it directly under the drain plug so you won’t mess up the garage. After that, lose the drain plug with a ratchet and sizable socket and remove the plug by hand. Allow the oil to drain.

Step 3: Remove the oil filter

Remove the oil filter

Now, I’ll slack the oil filter while the oil is still dropping for easy removal.

Locate the oil filter and unscrew it with an oil filter wrench. Oil filter location varies from vehicle to vehicle. Some manufacturers equip the oil filter close to the crankcase. Some cars have the oil filter on top of the engine, while others have them on the side of the engine.

Using an oil filter wrench, turn the filter counterclockwise until the oil filter starts dripping oil. Then, remove it by hand. Do not forget to position the drain bucket where the oil will pour. Ensure the old filter comes out with its seal. If not, the new one will not sit properly, which will cause severe oil leaks.

Step 4: Tighten the drain plug & the new oil filter

At this step, I will thread the oil filter and drain plug by hand before snuggling it.

Insert the drain plug and tighten it by hand. After that, snug it with your ratchet and socket, but do not over-tighten it. Overtightening can damage the crankcase and the drain plug.

Some manufacturers have a specified torque you should follow using a torque wrench. Check the owner’s manual for this information and torque the drain plug with a digital torque wrench.

Dab oil on your finger and rub it on the oil filter seal. This will help with proper sealing when tightening the filter. Screw in the filter and hand tighten it. After that, snug it with a wrench. Like the drain plug, do not over-tighten the oil filter.

Step 5: Fill the oil & check for leaks

oil change near me

This is when I pour in the new oil and ensure everything looks good.

Open the engine cover and insert your funnel. Pour in the recommended amount of oil and run the engine for a minute or two. While the engine is running, check for leaks and ensure everything is as they should.

Reinstall the under tray and lower the vehicle. While the car is sitting on level ground, check the oil dipstick to see if the oil is at the right level. Check out this article that explains how to read a dipstick if you don’t know how to read it.

Once you’re done, pat yourself on the back if this is your first time changing engine oil.

Final Words

An oil change is one of the most common DIYer tasks you can do at home. While it may be daunting to try fixing anything on your baby ride, you can change your engine oil with ease. All you need is to follow the instructions above. That’s how I do it in my garage. You too, can do it.


Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

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