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Easy, Illustrated Instructions on How to Change your OIl and Replace the Oil Filter in a Car

           

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Changing the oil in your car is similar to changing the litter in your cat's box. You dump out the old stuff, check for problems and dump in a fresh batch. The primary difference is that if you make any big mistakes with the car oil, you can destroy your engine or even kill yourself. But, you probably won't.

Before starting, here is an Overview of the Steps:
1. Buy a new filter and a gallon of oil
2. Remove the oil plug and oil filter from the car
3. Allow the old, dirty oil to drain out of the engine
4. Attach a new oil filter and re-attach the drain plug.
5. Fill the car with new oil
6. Check for problems and clean up

Tools
Wrench or Socket Set
Oil pan or something that will catch and hold a gallon of falling oil.
Funnel
30 paper towels

Obtain a new filter and oil
There are a bunch of different oil filters and motor oils. Your car needs one specific oil filter. If you've never bought an oil filter, go to an auto parts store and ask which one you should get for your car. If you are anti-social, you can use a paper directory they will have attached to the shelf to find which filters fit on your particular car. Most oil filters are metal cans with paper walls inside and are about the size of a quart of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream. They cost about $5. Our 2006 Honda Pilot takes the Purolator L14610 or the Fram PH7317 or the Bosch W0133-1639556.

If it is easier to buy online, try http://www.autopartswarehouse.com/shop_parts/oil_filter too. They seem to have a pretty awesome database of oil filters.

For the oil, you should check your car's owner's manual. There are two popular types of motor oil: regular and synthetic. Regular is less expensive. There are four popular weights of motor oil: Named like this: 5w20, 5w30, 10w30 and 10w40. The numbers stand for the thickness, or viscosity range of the oil. These oils have two thicknesses, for 5w20, for example, the oil behaves like thickness type "5" when it is cold (the w stands for winter). Thickness type 5 is thin, like water. When it isn't cold, it behaves like thickness "20". Thickness 20 is thick, like maple syrup.

You don't have to remember all that though. Just use whatever type and weight of oil your owner's manual recommends. Your owner's manual will also indicate how much oil you need to re-fill your engine. It will probably be about 5 quarts. Buy this much oil for your oil change. Oil will cost about $4 per quart, $20 total.

Remove the Oil Plug and Oil Filter from the Car
The car engine can't be hot. If the car engine is hot, the oil is going to be hotter, which is dangerous, because you will definitely get a little on your skin.

You can't spray the bottom of the car with water to cool it off, because then the ground will be all wet.

The hardest part of changing your oil is being able to reach the filter and the oil plug. Usually you have to use the jack and raise the car a bit to get underneath it. This is the dangerous part of the job, because you could jack it up, slide underneath and get crushed to death.

Warning: Don't get crushed. Use jack stands to provide a sturdy, elevated platform for your car while you are working under it.

 

If you raise your car make sure your car's transmission is in "Park" or first gear. Make sure the emergency brake is on. You don't want your car to roll around while you are under it. Raise your car with a jack, then place two jack stands under the car, on the front drivers and passenger's side. Locate the oil plug under the car. The oil plug is located at the lowest point on the actual engine block. It is usually a large bolt, performing no discernable attaching job. The structure it is part of probably looks like the underside of a pot or a bathtub, as it holds the oil in this reservoir.

The oil filter is down there somewhere too. It is almost definitely shaped like a cylinder which is attached to the car by one end. If you've got them located, it is time to remove them. Get the bolt off first.

The oil bolt is important. Using the correct size wrench or socket will help prevent damaging the bolt or "rounding off" the edges of its head. My Honda Pilot required a 17mm socket for this oil plug. American cars probably still use SAE sizes, such as 11/16" and 7/8" bolts.

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