DIY Oil and Filter Change

With the right tools and knowledge, changing a vehicle’s engine oil and filter an easy project for any driver – even those who have never done it.

“Individuals who haven’t performed light vehicle maintenance in the past shouldn’t feel intimidated by the engine,” said Brian Holliday, Vice President, FRAM. “There are simple steps they can follow in order to ensure it’s done right.”

The owner’s manual should be referenced before performing any vehicle maintenance. Engine components vary from vehicle to vehicle, and it’s important to be familiar with the engine before a person even opens the hood. It is also necessary to gather all the items needed to complete the job. Local automotive stores will have a wide variety of oil and filter products, as well as jack stands, mechanic’s gloves and clean-up supplies.

Part numbers should always be double checked while the do-it-yourselfer (DIYer) is at the store. These numbers are specific to the make, model and year of the vehicle, nothing is “one size fits all.”

Motorists should plan on changing their oil after the engine has reached normal operating temperatures. This ensures that most of the old oil and dirt are removed during the oil change. Turn off the engine and activate the emergency brake. When using jack stands, make absolutely sure the car can’t roll or fall and do not touch hot metal parts or engine oil.

Remove the oil filter cap from the engine valve cover or fill pipe to properly ventilate the crankcase for easier oil drainage. Place an 8-quart capacity or larger container under the oil pan drain hole and with gloves on, slowly loosen the oil drain plug (consult owner’s manual for location). Turn the plug counterclockwise by hand while pushing it upward to prevent oil from dripping through. Quickly pull the plug away, taking necessary precautions to avoid splashing oil. This will allow for instant, splash-free oil draining next time the job is done.

Carefully remove the old filter. In some cases, a wrench may be needed to loosen it completely. Use caution when cleaning the filter-mounting surface of the engine. It may still be hot. Pour oil directly into the new filter (only if the oil filter is vertically mounted), and lubricate its gaskets by rubbing oil on them. Install the filter by hand, turning it in a clockwise direction and hand-tighten it another three-quarter turn beyond the initial contact with the engine block.

Add clean oil according to the amount specified in the vehicle owner’s manual. Firmly tighten the filler cap and start the engine, letting it run until it reaches operating temperature and full oil pressure. Turn off the vehicle and check for oil leaks near the drain plug or oil filter. Check the dipstick to ensure the oil level reads “FULL.” Be sure to clean up any spills and place fluids and tools out of children’s reach. Also, check with local government agencies to find out how to properly dispose of the oil and filter.

Motorists should keep track of maintenance activity and current mileage in a vehicle diary. Oil and filters should be changed every 3,000 miles. “The entire job should take about half an hour to complete, maybe a little longer for a first-timer,” says Holliday. “But the money saved and experience gained is well worth it.”

Editor’s Note: Information about FRAM products is available on the Internet at

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