Oil Change Tips & Tricks

Whether you’re an amateur mechanic or a first-time DIYer, learning to do an oil change is very handy if you’re interested in maintaining your car on your own. We have a full guide on how to do an oil change, but we’d like to share some more tips and tool suggestions to help make your oil change routine easier.

Pouring oil into make-shift funnel made from half a plastic bottle

Getting a Lift

To do an oil change, you need to reach under your car to access the oil filter. For many DIYers, the default choice for raising a vehicle is typically a floor jack or a scissor jack along with a set of jack stands.

While jacks and jack stands are often lighter and easier to store, car ramps are considered a more stable option. With a wider surface for support, ramps provide more traction. You should always have a spotter when using car ramps, however, to help you navigate driving onto them.

2-Ton Hydraulic Trolley Jack And Stands

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3.5-Ton NAPA Carlyle Hydraulic Floor Jack

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Finding the Right Tools

The particular tools you’ll need for an oil change can vary depending on the specifics of your vehicle and your personal preferences. In general, you should have the following in your oil change tool kit:

Jaw-Style Oil Filter Wrench

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Socket Wrench and Sockets Set

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Keeping Clean

Having to deal with the mess left behind after a maintenance task can make DIYing feel like much more of a burden than it needs to be. Not to mention, stains from motor oil and other automotive-related products can be very difficult to remove. By gathering the right accessories to manage the mess, you’ll save a ton of time on post–oil change cleanup.

Before starting your oil change, lay a tarp on the ground to protect the surface you’re working on. To catch oil drainage, place a drip pan below the oil filter. To prevent spills when replacing the oil in the filter, use a funnel for precise pouring. Keep some rags on hand to catch any extra drips as needed.

Protecting your environment is one thing, but you also need to protect yourself. Wear clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty. Motor oil can burn your skin, so wearing pants and a shirt with long sleeves is recommended. To protect your hands and eyes, wear disposable nitrile gloves and safety glasses.

It’s very tricky to change your oil without getting any on your fingers, but following these steps will improve your chances:

  • Wipe the sump plug and surrounding area.
  • Loosen the drain bolt with a drain bolt wrench until it’s finger tight.
  • Undo the drain bolt in a one swift motion, keeping pressure in a vertical direction at first. Then, in something of a horizontal, upward curve, whisk it away.

We can’t make guarantees! The best way to keep the oil off your fingers is to wear the nitrile gloves we recommended above.

Oil Drip Pan

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Black Nitrile Gloves

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Managing Your Routine

To stay on top of your car care, keep a record of important information like the dates of when you last changed the oil, air filter, and spark plugs. You can do this using various methods, such as by making notes on your smartphone, writing them on a notepad, or using a chalk marker to write directly on the airbox.

Using a Notes App to keep track of your DIY Oil Change

Depending on how the rest of your vehicle maintenance routine looks, you can combine an oil change with other tasks to maximize your time.

For more DIY guides and automotive tips, check out our blog.

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