If you have always wanted to change the oil in you car yourself, but have never known where to start, then this short guide will show you the secrets.
Why and how often should the oil be changed?
To gain an understanding of this you need to appreciate what purpose the oil serves in the engine and how it does it.
The oil in your engine serves to lubricate internal engine parts to reduce friction, cool internal components by dissipating heat and to flush away, from the moving parts, impurities such as fine metal filings or carbon from the combustion process.
The oil starts off in the sump which is a reservoir usually fixed to the bottom of the engine, this is where a bulk of the oil is stored. From here it is pumped through an oil filter to remove any impurities large enough to cause damage or accelerated wear to internal components. The filtered oil is then piped under pressure to various moving parts throughout the engine. Most rotating parts inside the engine, such as the crankshaft and camshafts, use bearings with no moving parts and are actually floating on a very thin film of oil.
It is for this reason that the oil needs to be kept clean and free of impurities as this gap is very small. Once the oil has flowed out of the bearings it simply runs back down into the sump. During this process the oil has collected carbon from the combustion process as well as fine metal particles.
Typically engine oil needs to be replaced every 10000km/6000mi or every 12 months together with the oil filter. After 10000km the oil has generally collected enough carbon deposits (it will be black) to justify changing it. The 12 month limit is there because oil also collects acidic deposits from the combustion process which over time can cause erosion of internal components.
What you will need.
Although you will find these parts at most Kmart and Target stores, if this is the first time you’ve changed oil I would recommend an auto shop like Supercheap or Autobarn as they can help you get the right items for your car.
1) A jack to raise the car to a sufficient height for you to get underneath.
2) Car stands to hold up the car. (NEVER get under a car only supported by a jack)
3) Oil pan to collect oil.
4) Spanner that fits the drain plug.
5) Oil filter tool for removing the oil filter.
6) Rags for cleaning up.
7) New oil (Typically 4-5 Litres)
8) New oil filter.
How you do it.
First make sure the car is on hard flat ground with the handbrake on. Place the jack under the front cross member which runs across the bottom of the engine between the wheels and raise the car. Make sure you don’t place the jack under the engine sump.
Once the car is raised, place the car stands under the chassis either side of the engine and gently lower the car down onto them.
Note. NEVER under any circumstances get under a car which is only supported by a jack. Jacks can and have failed and you do not want to be under the car if it does.
With the jack out of the way, place the oil pan under the engine and remove the sump drain plug located on the very bottom of the engine. Allow the all of the oil to drain out. (It may drip for a while.)
Once the oil has drained, re-fit the drain plug ensuring the gasket is in place.
Using the oil filter tool, remove the oil filter from the engine by turning it anti-clockwise ensuring that the rubber gasket is not still stuck to the engine block, and wipe clean with a rag. If this gasket is accidentally left in place it will cause an oil leak.
Apply a little engine oil or grease to the gasket of the new oil filter prior to screwing it on and tighten by hand until firm.
You have now finished under the car, so, jack it up again and remove the car stands and lower the car back to the ground. You’ve almost finished.
Remove the oil filler cap and pour the new engine oil into the top of the engine, add the oil in stages until it shows ‘full’ on the dipstick. Don’t be in too much of a rush here as it takes time for the oil to run down through the engine.
Replace the oil cap and start the engine. Just let the engine idle until the oil light on the dash goes out or the gauge shows pressure. This usually takes about 10-20secs and the engine can be a bit rattly during this time. If it takes longer than this then stop the engine and investigate, there may be a problem. Have a look underneath for a leak and check there is enough oil in the engine using the dipstick.
If everything is OK, then check the oil level again you will usually find the engine needs a little more oil, another quick check and you’re done.
Some good tips before starting, it is faster to drain oil if the engine is warm but avoid a hot engine. Keep rags on hand in case you have a spill and if you don’t have any hand cleaner, use ordinary washing up liquid.
What do you do with the old oil?
Tip the old oil into the oil bottle that the new oil came in or another one if this is not empty, but then what? Well these days it is definitely not OK to just tip it down the drain, similarly you cannot just chuck it in the bin don’t even be tempted to do this just once. Most local council tips will take oil for recycling and it only costs about $2 to drop it off. I normally just collect it in bottles and store out of the way and take it all to the tip once a year.
Although just one of the many actions performed when servicing a car, changing the oil and oil filter is really quite simple. I hope you have found this article useful and prompts you to give it a go.