Easy, Illustrated Instructions on How to Change your Oil and Replace the Oil Filter in a Car
Alright, now it is time to put the oil back in.
This would be a terrible time to get distracted and go do something else, because your engine needs oil even more than it needs gasoline. Unscrew the oil cap and pour in some oil.
The oil cap will say "Engine Oil" or "Oil". Do not put oil in the "transmission oil", power steering fluid, washer fluid or any other reservoir. Use a funnel if you can't manuouver the spout close enough to the opening to the oil reservior.
I threw away my funnel last week, so I had to use a bottle of diet Coke with the bottom cut off.
After a quart or so, stop and take a look under the car to see if any oil is dripping onto the ground. If the oil is staying in the engine, pour in the remaining oil, to the total quantity specified in your owner's manual.
Start the car. Keep the radio off while you are checking the sound of the engine. Watch for an "oil warning light". The oil warning light should be on when you first start the car, but then go dark within 10 seconds of the car starting. If the oil warning light is still on after 20 seconds, turn off the engine and check your work, checking to see that the oil is really in the car's engine. You shouldn't drive or run the engine if that oil warning light is on. Your engine can be destroyed in three minutes, and car insurance probably won't cover the damage.
You should also keep an eye on the engine temperature gauge, because if there isn't oil, or there isn't enough oil, the engine is going to get really hot really quickly. You should also listen to the engine to make sure nothing sounds terrible.
If everything sounds and looks ok, turn off the engine, wait a minute and check the oil level with the oil dipstick. Actually, you have to pull the dipstick out and wipe it off first, so there isn't any oil on it when you use it to measure. After you dip it again, the oil level should be sitting between the "too much oil" mark at the top and the "not enough oil" mark at the bottom. These two marks will probably be about one inch apart from each other. Add oil if the level is too low, but if you followed the owner's manual, it should be right on the money.
If you ended up with too much oil in the engine, this too will probably be ok, unless white smoke starts bellowing out on the freeway. This is rare.
Your oil is changed. Put everything away.
Pour the oil dirty oil into a gallon jug with a lid. You should drop this off at an auto parts store. They can recycle it. They won't pay you for it, even though you just bought a gallon of oil for about $20 not more than two hours ago.
These instructions probably sound frightfully complicated and laced with warnings of doom, but after the first time changing your oil, everything goes a lot smoother and your time will be cut down to about 20 minutes or so. Not including the time it takes to wash your hands and arms.
Oh! And you probably want to know how to stop the maintanence light from telling you to change your oil! With the car's ignition set to ON, press and hold the stem button on the dash. Hold it until it starts flashing. Then let go and immediately press it again and hold it a few moments, until the maintenance warning light resets to zero.