Changing Engine Oil, the correct way

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September 18, 2013
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September 20, 2013

Changing Engine oil is one of the first things people learn when doing a service on their cars.

But too often we see mistakes being made even from the experienced guys at DIY servicing, here are 10 simple steps on changing your oil the correct way.


Step 1: Make sure you have the correct tools and equipment. This makes the Oil change a lot quicker and smoother, there is nothing more annoying than finding out you are missing something once you have started to drain the black oil from your pride and joy. Things to remember when getting setup for oil changes are:

  • Socket set with correct size for sump plug
  • Oil Filter removal tool
  • Oil catch pan that holds at least 6L of oil
  • Bag o rags to clean up and splits or drops
  • Heavy duty car jack/jack stand or car ramp
  • Engine flush treatment
  • Correct model oil filter for your make and model car
  • Correct weight oil for your make and model car

Step 2: Car setup

This is something that is often missed by people doing the oil change themselves. Try keeping the car as level as possible, you want the car to be off the ground enough for you to work under but remember that the greater angle your car is on the more oil left behind in the change. Having the front of the car high in the air will cause the old broken down oil to hide in the back of your engine and sump. Reducing many of the benefits of putting fresh oil in your car. Always remember to jack the car on its recommended points, refer to the hand book if you are unsure on where these are.

Step 3: Engine Flush

Now the car is safety set up, it is time to clean out all  deposits stuck in the oil galleries and hard to reach places within your engine. Think of this step as giving your engine a good bath, you will be shocked at the gunk that comes out with your oil once you complete this process. Cleaning out your engine will not only  increase performance by dropping friction levels due to cleaner oil but also  increase the life span of the oil you use. Seeing the benefits of this process once I guarantee you will do it every time. Follow the directions on the bottle, most engine flushes direct you to pour the entire contents of the flush into the engine via the oil cap and run the motor for 15 mins.


Step 4: Draining the old oil

With the Engine flush completed, remove the sump plug by turning it Anti clock wise. Most cars use a 12inch socket but check this on your car. The oil is going to be hot to please use caution when removing the sump plug. By removing the oil cap at the top of the motor you will allow air to pass through the motor while draining.  Make sure you try and catch the sump plug before it goes into your catch can. Digging around a pan of hot dirty oil is not as fun as it sounds. A tip I found useful was to put pressure back on the sump plugs with your finger until it was completely undone, this allows you to chose when the oil starts flowing. Make sure you put some news paper around the catch can, oil stains on your driveway are extremely hard to remove and only say one thing to your neighbours.

Step 5: Filter replacement

Locating the oil filter is the easy part, accessing it is often another story. This is where a filter removal tool comes in handy, although it can be done by hand (force) it is a lot easier to use the tool, they cost around $20.00 and last forever. To remove the filter turn it anit-clockwise making sure you remove the rubber gasket ring with the filter. If this filter is not removed you will not be able to make a seal with the new filter and an oil leak with be the end result. Before fitting the new filter make sure you fill it at least half way with fresh oil and dip the face including rubber ring in oil. This creates a firm connection between the filter and the block and will shorten the amount of time your car takes to regain safe oil pressure. Once this is done tighten it back up with the oil filter tool and clean the surrounding area with a rag.


Step 6: Sump plug replacement

Once the oil has completely drained from the car we can now start to fill it up again. Most sump plugs have a reusable ring around the bolt. This ring stops any leaks happening from the sump. A great investment is a magnetic sump plug. They cost around $12.00 and collect a lot of Metal shavings floating around your engine which is very common. Start by doing it up with your fingers as to not cross thread it and finish it off with the same socket used to take it out. Remember this isn’t a strength test, it needs to create a secure seal with the sump but you will have to undo it again in 6 – 12 months.

Step 7: The Refill

Its always interesting to see how much oil your car uses by comparing what came out to what goes in. Refer to your owners manual regarding the capacity of your engine. most cars are between 5-6L but do not over fill your motor as you will do damage and blow a lot of smoke out of the exhaust. A tip with this is to use a funnel and rag, make sure you don’t spill any oil in or around the exhaust or extractors as this can cause a fire hazard. Always Under fill your car by 500ml to start with. It is easier to top up the oil than it is to drain it.

Step 8: Check oil level

The best way to do this is to run the car for 30 seconds, switch it off and let it rest for 5 mins. Once this is done, clean the dipstick with a rag and replace it. Oil level should be sitting on the high side of the 2 markers. Check your owners manual in regards to the markers as every car is different. If low than top up as necessary.

Step 9: Checking oil pressure

Start the car and monitor your oil pressure gauge. If you have followed the steps correctly your oil pressure should return to normal within around 2 mins of start-up


Step 10: Recycling old and dirty oil

Disposing of used oil in the wrong way has the potential to pollute land, water and infrastructure so it’s important that you recycle or dispose oil in the correct way. There are plenty of oil recycling stations located around Australia. Some locations will also take your old oil filters, oily rags and plastic oil containers so be sure to check this out when you next recycle your oil. To find your local recycling centre follow this link






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