4. Oil and Oil Filter
- Tools You Need: Ratchet, oil filter wrench, oil pan, funnel
- Time to Complete: 30 to 45 minutes
- Estimated Cost: $20
Experts say you should change your oil every 3,000 miles, but with better products and cars operating more efficiently, I think you can get away with changing it every 5,000 miles. Whichever benchmark you decide to use, you can save time and money by handling the change yourself. Before you start, keep in mind these precautions:
- Never change your oil when your engine is hot. Park, wait for it to cool, and then get started. Driving around the block to heat the car and loosen the oil can result in a more effective drain, which is good news, but you must let the engine cool before going to work.
- You’ll have to jack up your car, so make sure you’re comfortable safely handling a jack.
Now that you’ve covered safety first, it’s time to get a little dirty.
- Get under your car and locate the vehicle’s oil pan. It shouldn’t be hard to find.
- Unscrew the drain plug and drain all of the old oil into your oil pan.
- Once all of the oil is drained, replace the drain plug.
- Go back to your engine and remove the old oil filter with your oil filter wrench. (Be careful, because the oil filter contains some old oil as well).
- Lubricate the rubber gasket on the new oil filter with some new motor oil.
- Fill the new oil filter about two-thirds of the way with new oil.
- Screw in the new oil filter. Hand-tighten it only.
- Fill the engine with new oil, using your funnel.
- With a dip-stick, double check your oil level to be sure you’ve added enough.
- Discard the old oil filter and recycle the old oil (most gas stations will take it).
Changing your oil is the dirtiest job on the list, but it might be the most rewarding too. Though you can find plenty of quick-service stations nearby, when you think about going possibly four times a year, the expense and time commitment adds up.