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October 24, 2014

Changing Your Oil
By Scott Roush
Despite the fact that today's automobiles are becoming increasing complex for the average do-it-yourselfer, there are still small maintenance projects you can tackle on your own. These will help save you some money and give you the satisfaction of getting the job done yourself.

Changing oil, replacing sparkplugs and air filters are simple tasks that should be done on a regular basis to help keep your car running smoothly. These are all easy projects that don't require an extensive knowledge of automobiles like replacing a transmission or diagnosing engine problems. A weekend afternoon is probably all you need to get these tasks completed.

It should be noted that the manuals often recommend servicing your car based on "normal" driving. Most people these days, with stop-and-go traffic and short errands, do not drive normally. These types of driving are some of the toughest situations your car will face because they usually include lots of cold starts followed by short trips that don't allow the engine to warm up completely. Unless you really feel your car only gets "normal" driving, it's best to follow an accelerated maintenance schedule.

When looking for replacement parts, your best bet is to go to an auto parts store first in case you have questions. The employees at these businesses most likely have a better understanding of automobiles than people who work at general department stores. If you feel like you can get a better price at one of these larger stores such as Wal-Mart or Kmart, then buy your parts there after visiting an auto parts store.

Changing Motor Oil

The oil in your vehicle is the lifeblood of your engine. A thin layer of oil keeps the metal parts inside an engine from rubbing against each other. Without proper maintenance and regular changing, you can do serious damage to your car. Some people have even had to have their engine replaced because they neglected to change their oil. A very expensive repair could have been avoided by a simple oil change.

Now that you understand that you must change your oil, your next question will be: How often do I need to change it? The term, "on a regular basis," is vague at best. Most oil companies recommend every 3,000 miles or three months, whichever comes first. Automakers may say to wait longer before changing oil, but you can be sure that changing your oil every 3,000 mile won't accelerate wear.

Despite the advanced technology of today's automobiles, changing oil is still an easy do-it-yourself project because it is simple and inexpensive. Before starting the task, make sure you have everything you will need.

First of all, you need oil. Not just any kind of oil, but the right lubricant for your vehicle. If you are not sure what kind of oil your car or truck uses, check the owner's manual. Also see what kind of oil filter fits on your car. You will want to change the filter when you change the oil.

Equipment you will likely need includes: car jack, funnel, jack stands, oil (usually five quarts), oil drain pan, new oil filter, oil filter wrench, plastic container, old rags, ratchet set, rubber gloves and socket set.

Before starting the project, run your car for about 10 minutes. Warm oil drains better than cold oil. If you can get under your vehicle to change your oil, make sure it is parked on level surface. If there is not enough clearance, use your car jack to raise the car and the jack stands to keep it secure.

After the vehicle is firmly supported, crawl under it and locate the oil drain plug. It's usually in the front center of the vehicle. Place the oil drain pan under the plug. Then loosen the plug with a socket wrench. Remove the plug with your hand and be ready for the warm oil draining out.

Once all the oil has drained out, wipe off the drain opening and plug with an old rag. Reinstall the plug by hand and then tighten with the socket wrench.

Locate the oil filter. It's typically on the side of the engine. Position the drain pan under the filter to catch any remaining oil. Use the oil filter wrench to unscrew the old oil filter. Wipe off any old oil where the filter mounts to the engine. Put some new oil on the rubber seal of the new filter and screw the filter into place by hand.

When adding new oil, first locate the oil filler cap on top of the engine. Place the funnel in the opening and pour in the new oil. Replace the cap, run the engine, then check the dipstick. Add more oil if you need it.

Wipe away excess oil with a rag. Pour the old oil into plastic containers and dispose of it properly. Take it to either a recycling center or an auto repair shop that takes used oil.

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