Expert Car Tips: How To Change Your Oil Filter
by Ed Scott
Oil is the lifeblood of every car – ensuring everything under the bonnet is kept well lubricated, stopping things from seizing up and wearing out and preventing a build-up of dirt and acids that could lead to corrosion.
Not to put too fine a point on it, if your engine runs out of oil, your car is finished!
So with that rather important reminder, here’s a quick guide to changing your oil filter:
1) Check your engine
It’s important to check your oil at least once a month – even more often if you have an older vehicle – as irregularities with the oil can give an early indication of more serious engine trouble.
If you’re unsure at what intervals your engine oil needs changing you should check your owner’s manual, but as a general rule of thumb, it should probably be changed every 6,000 miles.
And while you can get it done by a mechanic, it’s a relatively straightforward and inexpensive job you can do yourself.
2) Get your tools together
In order to change the oil, you’ll need tools such as a socket wrench, an oil filter wrench, a funnel, a bowl to collect the old oil and some rags or newspapers to clean things up.
You’ll also need a good quality oil filter and the proper amount and grade of motor oil – again, check your owner’s manual for the correct viscosity and amount you’ll need to fill up with.
3) Drain the old oil
Before you start draining the oil it’s a good idea to get the engine running for a couple of minutes to warm up the oil so it drains out more smoothly and make sure it’s parked on a hard, flat, level surface.
Once the car is ready, slide underneath to locate the oil pan and sump plug – you may have to jack the car and put it on axle stands to get under it – then spread the newspapers and oil pan beneath it, before loosening the sump plug with the socket wrench by turning it anti-clockwise.
With the plug loosened, turn it slowly by hand to let the oil drain out. Be mindful at this point the oil might be hot; then once the stream of oil slows to a drip, put the plug back in and tighten with the wrench by turning it clockwise.
4) Replace the filter
Next up, loosen the oil filter with the wrench – if you can’t see it, check your owner’s manual – before removing it by hand.
Coat the new oil filter gasket with a little motor oil, to stop it from sticking and causing a leak, and then install and tighten it by hand – if you turn it tightly enough there should be no need to use the wrench.
5) Add the new oil
Now it’s time to get under the bonnet, loosen the oil filler cap and fill up with the new oil, using the funnel to help avoid any spillage. Once you’ve put the required amount of oil in – never underfill or even overfill with oil as both can cause problems. Replace the cap, wipe away any excess and start up the car to let the oil run through the engine.
Once the engine has run for a couple of minutes, turn it off and get back under the bonnet to check the oil level on the dipstick, remembering to take the stick out, wipe it and then re-dip it to check the level.
If the level is correct, you’re good to go, if it’s still a little low just add a little more and repeat the filling and checking process until it’s correct. If you put too much oil in (it’s fine if it’s a little over) you’ll have to get back underneath and drain some via the sump.
All that remains now is to clear up underneath the car, put the old oil into a suitable container and take it to your local tip to either dispose of it safely and responsibly or recycle it.
Got a car maintenance question for our car expert? Leave a comment and we may address your query in an upcoming ‘Ask the Expert’ post!
As cars get older they become unreliable and faults begin to occur more often. If you find yourself needing to top up the oil level more often than you should then maybe it’s time to move on. Get your free car valuation today and start the process of selling your car.
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