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I didn’t get my first car until shortly after I turned 21. I had started working as a secretary for a diesel mechanic and needed a reliable source of transportation, so when my dad showed up with a “new to me” car, I was pretty tickled to have a set of wheels to call my own. At the time, I didn’t think too much about car maintenance (if I had a pressing question, I knew two mechanics I could always pester, after all). I knew the oil needed to be changed every-so-often and that I could check fluid levels, but changing the oil myself never occurred to me. Instead, I took it to a lube place a couple times and walked out paying for more than just an oil change.
About 10 months after getting my car, I married my husband and car maintenance was definitely the last thing from my mind. I figured the maintenance would fall to my husband now, right? Well, it’s been almost 12 years and I finally got schooled by my husband over the weekend on how to change the oil on our suburban. I have to say, from an observers point of view, it was far more simple than I thought.
My husband stopped by our local AutoZone one evening after work and pick up some Pennzoil Platinum full synthetic motor oil. Honestly, we’ve never used a full synthetic motor oil in our vehicles before. However, since our Suburban has over 169K miles on it and our Honda has over 282K miles, we want to extend the life of both our vehicles as long as possible. In researching motor oil, we’ve learned that a full synthetic oil is better for reducing the wear on the engine, helps clean by preventing deposits from forming, removes and suspends dirt as well as cools the engine parts and provides protection over a wide temperature range (and being that we live in an area where we have triple digits all summer long, that’s important).
Please use standard safety procedures when changing your oil. You should always refer to your own car’s manual before changing your oil.
A DiY Guide to Changing Your Oil
First, always take proper safety measures when jacking up your car. My husband was using jack stands and ramps as well as large rocks to keep the vehicle from rolling.
You will need the oil necessary for your vehicle (check for the quantity – our suburban took 6 quarts). You will also need the following:
- Oil Pan
- New Oil Filter
- Oil filter wrench (optional)
- Cloth or paper towel (because it does get messy)
- Socket wrench
Locate your filter and the oil drain plug. If you don’t know where they are located, check your vehicle owner’s manual. Be sure to have your oil pan ready for when you remove the plug because it will pour out….
…in a strong steady stream. And make sure you’re not directly in front of it because that could just be bad. Once it’s done draining, replace the plug.
Now it’s time to remove the old oil filter. Once again, make sure you still have your oil pan ready because the oil will start dripping from the filter. Once the oil has drained, replace the old filter with the new filter (before putting the new filter on, dab your finger with oil and rub around the o-ring of the new filter to help create a good seal when screwing it in).
We bought an oil filter wrench because our filter was in such a tight spot. You might need something to help get your old filter off and the new one on. Just be sure you don’t tighten it too tight.
After you have put your new filter on, you’re good to go on the under side of your vehicle. Now it’s time to pour the new oil into the tank. While pouring the new oil in, you might want to take a peek under your vehicle just to make sure it’s not dripping from the filter and oil drain plug.
Once you’ve added the necessary amount of oil, use your dip stick and check the oil level. Replace your oil cap and start your car for a couple minutes. Turn the car off and let it sit for 10 or so minutes then check the oil level again. If needed, top it off with more oil, but be sure you don’t add too much. If everything checks out, you’re good to go. A messy but simple project and you just saved yourself some money by doing it yourself! Now I just need to learn how to change a tire!
Do you change your own oil? I’d love to know if you have any tips on keeping up with your vehicle maintenance that saves you money. Feel free to share in the comments below.