Oil changes are an indispensable part of car maintenance, and they need to be completed regularly. The recurrent nature and relative ease of the task make it a no-brainer candidate for a DIY project, but you’ll need to collect all the tools needed to change oil first.
Setup for Safety
First off, gather everything you need to ensure a safe and smooth project. Use designated lift points found in the owner’s manual to lift the car with a jack, and rest it on jack stands (again on specified points). If you’re only lifting one end of the vehicle, set the parking brake and chock the wheels.
Out With the Old
First, you’ll need the tools to drain the old oil. Have some old rags on hand as this tends to get a little messy at times. Position a drain container in the area where you anticipate oil pouring from the pan. Then use a ratchet of the correct size to remove the drain plug. If you don’t have a ratchet, a box end wrench will work just fine. In a pinch, an adjustable crescent wrench can be used, but be very careful not to strip the plug head.
Filter Out, Filter In
Next, you’ll need tools to get filters off and back on. While the oil drains (keep an eye on the pan to make sure it doesn’t miss the mark or overflow), remove the old oil filter. Your best bet for this is a band wrench or adjustable jaw wrench. But if your filter isn’t too tight, you can also use a regular adjustable filter wrench. Before installing the new filter, make sure it’s the same as the one you removed, and moisten the gasket with a bit of clean engine oil. Hand tighten the new filter back on until it’s very snug, plus a quarter turn. Don’t over-tighten or you’ll regret it later.
In With the New
Lastly, you’ll need a few items for pouring new oil. Once the oil is drained, replace and tighten the drain plug with your wrench or ratchet. Consult your owner’s manual to find out the type and amount of oil to pour in and use a funnel to keep from spilling over the engine. Once done, run the engine for a few minutes, then shut it off and use the dipstick to make sure you’re at the right level.
In With the Old
Do not throw used engine oil away. Use the funnel to pour it into the now empty oil bottle and take it to your local auto parts store. They will be set up to accept the oil from you and can dispose of it properly.
Don’t forget to make regular oil changes a habit. Once you have all the right tools to perform one, they are a breeze.
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on tools needed to change oil, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photos courtesy of Blair Lampe.
Blair Lampe is a New York-based professional mechanic, blogger, theater technician, and speechwriter. In her downtime she enjoys backpacking wherever her boots will carry her, rock climbing, experimental theatre, a crisp rosé , and showering love on her 2001 Sierra truck.