Maintaining your own vehicle can be a rewarding experience. One of the most common beginner DIY projects is an oil change. The key to success for any automotive project is planning and organization. Here’s 4 tips about getting ready for your first DIY oil change.
Since this is your first DIY oil change, take out your owner’s manual and read through the maintenance section. It will give you an overview of where to find the oil dipstick, how much oil the engine holds, and the recommended oil change interval. It may also show you where to find the oil filter itself. It helps to get a repair manual for your exact year/make/model vehicle. Either a traditional paper manual or a digital version will work just fine. The point is to get an idea of how things go together, as some vehicles may require removing parts for full access.
Pick a clean area to work
Start by prepping your work area. You want a flat, smooth space the size of your vehicle plus an extra two feet all the way around. The flat, smooth area will be easier and safer to work on. It gives a stable surface to operate a floor jack and place jack stands (ALWAYS use jack stands). A flat surface also makes it easier to move in & out from under the vehicle. Clear any dirt or debris with a leaf blower or broom.
Do yourself a favor and get all your project needs together now. Grab some rags or paper towels to catch spills, safety glasses, gloves, and an oil catch can. You will need a wrench (or ratchet and socket) that fits your oil drain plug. You may also want an oil filter wrench to help with removing the old filter. You will also need a way to lift the front of the vehicle off the ground, either a floor jack or ramps. If you choose to use a jack, ALWAYS rest the weight of the car securely on jack stands.
Go ahead and swing by your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store and get the right oil filter and oil. The counter person can help you decide which kind of filter is right for your situation. They can also help you choose which oil is right for not just your engine, but your driving situation. There are a lot of options, so talking to an expert can demystify the process.
The next steps will vary by vehicle, which is why we recommend picking up a repair manual for the specifics. Make sure to dispose of your old oil by taking it to an oil recycling location.
Check out all the oil filters available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on your first DIY oil change, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
With an automotive writing career spanning over two decades, Brian has a passion for sharing the automotive lifestyle. An avid DIYer he can usually be found working on one of his many project cars. His current collection includes a 1969 Olds Delta 88 convertible, BMW E46 sedan, and a slant-6 powered 1975 Plymouth Duster.