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How to change the oil in your car 

As part of our ‘how to…’ series, we’re bringing you all the info on what car owners should know. From how to prevent travel sickness to how to change a tyre, we are here to help! We all like to save a little money here and there and if there’s something you can do yourself, why pay a professional to do it? Keep your car running for longer by learning how to change your oil yourself at home! In a few easy steps you can reduce fuel consumption and extend the life of your car!

The oil in your car is essential and should be changed regularly. It keeps different parts of your car lubricated which prevents overheating and damage. Before you start, remember to refer to the owner’s manual for your model’s specific oil and oil filter requirements. Some manuals also give advice on how often you should change your oil.

How can I tell if my oil needs changing?

  1. Current oil is thick or black
  2. Coarse or gritty oil
  3. Oil replacement light on the dashboard is on
  4. Oil level keeps dropping
  5. Increased engine noise
  6. You covered a lot of miles since your last oil change
  7. A ticking or tapping metal noise
  8. Burning oil smell
  9. Difficulty starting the engine
  10. Overheating
checking oil level on dipstick
If you have noticed any of the above warning signs from your car, you should check your oil and try to change it yourself at home. If you don’t feel confident enough or don’t have the right tools, it’s best to get a professional to do it for you.

How to check your car oil

You can easily check your car’s oil to see if it needs changing or replenishing in just a few simple steps.

  • Park your car on level ground and make sure your engine is cool.
  • If you’re unsure where your dipstick is, you can refer to your owner’s manual. Many modern cars don’t have a need for a dipstick as they use an electric oil monitor instead and the vehicle will usually show a warning message when your oil needs changing.
  • If you’ve located the dipstick, you should then wipe off any oil with a cloth.
  • There will be a minimum and maximum marker on the dipstick to indicate whether you need to top up.
  • Pop the dipstick back in, let it sit and then remove it again.
  • If the oil is halfway below minimum and maximum, you should top your oil up.

You will need…

  • Spanner
  • Bowl/container
  • Rag/cleaning cloth
  • New oil filter
  • Replacement oil

How to change your car oil in 6 easy steps…

1. Warm the engine
You should warm your engine for a couple of minutes, so that the oil flows easily. If the oil is particularly old it may be thick and can take you longer to change. Heat your engine to a comfortable temperature to prevent any burns.
2. Unscrew the drain/sump plug
The drain plug can be found at the bottom of the engine underneath the oil pan. If you can’t locate it from above you may need to get under the car or use a jack to lift it up. Place a bowl or container under the plug and then unscrew it with a spanner. The oil should then drain out into the bowl/container.
3. Empty the oil filter
You can find the oil filter at the top of the engine. Remove the cap and unscrew it with the spanner and replace it with a new one. Make sure the new filter is tightly screwed in place.
4.Replace the sump plug
Once all the oil has drained, clean the sump/drain plug with a rag or cloth and reattach it.
5. Fill your engine with fresh oil
You’re now ready to replace the oil. Slowly pour the engine oil and then check the dipstick. Remove the dipstick, wipe it, dip it in again and take it back out to check the engine oil is sufficient. Add more oil if required until the tank is full.

6. Check your oil warning light
If you have an oil warning light on the dashboard, start your car and ensure your oil warning light goes out after a few seconds. Find out more about common dashboard warning lights and what they mean

Discover more in our ‘how to…’ series! 

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