How to change your car oil

What does car oil do?

It has five basic functions:

Separation and lubrication - In order to lubricate, the oil must keep surfaces apart. An oil film helps keep moving parts from coming into direct contact, thus reducing the amount of energy consumed

Cooling - The oil helps to cool engine parts by dispersing the heat caused by friction

Cleaning - The oil also traps impurities such as dust and combustion residues these are then deposited in the oil filter. This helps keep the engine clean from build-up

Rust-protection - The oil also protects internal engine surfaces from rust that occurs from water and combustion acids

Water-tightness - The pistons need good water-tightness for optimum compression and to maintain engine power. The film of oil helps keep water out

How often do I need to change my oil?
You need to check in your car manual this relates directly to your particular vehicle and its components. Most car manufacturers advise changing it every 10,000 kilometers for normal service and every 5,000 kilometers for severe service, i.e. if you are driving more. This ensures that you always have the optimum levels of oil in your car to do the jobs described above. Too little oil and parts could scrape together. Too much and it could spill over. Your filter also needs checking to remove any particles that have built up. Your car should have a dashboard light that comes on if your oil levels are low this could mean that oil is leaking so make sure you pay attention to it.

Why should I change my own oil?
You can get your car oil changed professionally by a mechanic at a garage but it is quick and easy to do it yourself. This will save you time and money.

How do I change the oil?
This can be done in four easy steps (consult your manual to find where parts are):

Drain the oil
Make sure your engine is turned off and is cool enough to handle. Modern engines run at around 150B:C and hot oil can give you a severe burn. Almost all cars have space beneath to reach under and change the engine oil. Find out where your drain plug is, place a container under and remove the plug in an anti-clockwise direction you may need an oil filter wrench to do this. When the oil has stopped draining, replace the plug clockwise.

Replace the filter
Move the oil-catching container under the oil filter. Use the wrench to remove the filter. Then put a thin coat of oil over the new filter (make sure it's the right one for your car). Refit the filter, paying attention to the instructions most tell you to give the filter one more turn after the gasket has made contact. You don't want it to be too loose and leak oil or so tight that you can't remove it.

Add the new oil
Locate the oil filler cap on the valve cover and use a funnel to pour in the oil. Again check your car manual for how much oil you need. Most have a capacity of 4.5 or 5.5 litres. If you don't know how much to use, add 4.5 litres, check the oil level and add a bit more if it's low. Replace the oil filler cap.

Check it works
Start the engine and make sure that the oil warning light goes off. Look under the vehicle to make sure no oil is leaking out. Turn off the engine and let it rest for minute to allow oil to drain down to the crankcase. Then check the oil with a dipstick by inserting it all the way into the oil tank and removing it after a few seconds to see how far up the oil has covered. Most dipsticks have a full mark to check by.

Do the green thing
When disposing of oil, funnel it back into the new oil canister (make sure you mark the bottle so you don't mix it up) and find an oil recycling point. Remember, if you refill your oil too often, you will be using more of the world's precious oil supplies than is necessary.


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