How to Do an Oil Change

Changing your engine’s oil and oil filter is essential to protecting your engine. An old or clogged oil filter will cause your engine to sputter, and without clean oil, the engine will eventually fail. If you follow these tips and steps to do an oil change, you can improve your DIY skills and save money by learning how to change your engine oil and oil filter at home.


How Often Should You Change Your Oil?

Your owner’s manual will specify when to change your oil. Under normal driving conditions, most vehicles will need an oil and oil filter change at least every six months or every 5,000 to 8,000 kilometres. Be sure to reset your counter, whether a notebook or an app, after you’ve changed your oil.

Oil Change Tips Before You Start

Before starting your engine oil change, check the condition of your current oil and decide what kind of oil you’re going to use.

Checking Your Oil

First, check the colour of your current oil.

Engine oil should be clear/translucent or slightly amber. If it looks milky brown, it may have mixed with coolant and could indicate that you have a blown head gasket, a failing transmission cooler, or cracked casing. If your oil looks like this, have it assessed by a professional at a NAPA AUTOPRO service centre right away.

For more details about checking your engine oil and other fluids before an oil change, follow this guide.

Conventional vs. Synthetic Oil

If your current oil looks okay, it’s time to decide if you’re going to use synthetic or conventional oil as your replacement. Not all motor oil types fit all vehicles, and higher viscosity oils don’t necessarily provide better engine protection. Your owner’s manual may specify the best type and viscosity of oil for your vehicle.

If your owner’s manual doesn’t have a recommendation, consider switching to synthetic oil, if you aren’t already using it. Synthetic oil can improve your fuel economy, prolong the interval between oil changes, and provide instant lubrication when you start your car.

Vehicles used for towing or in extreme climates benefit the most from synthetic oil. The main downside to synthetic oil is it’s more expensive. But if you can afford to make the switch, it can really pay off.

You can read more on the differences between conventional and synthetic oil here.

NAPA Full Synthetic Motor Oil

Starting at 76.39 $ Starting at 59.99 $

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NAPA Conventional Motor Oil

Starting at 43.29 $ Starting at 33.99 $

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Prepping for a Mess

Oil changes can be messy. Don’t make more work for yourself by having to clean up stains at the end of your task. To keep your mess contained, lay down a tarp or shower curtain to catch any wandering oil.

When you’re done, clean off your protective layer in accordance with local by-laws. That means you shouldn’t just hose it off, because you might be in violation of by-laws that prohibit the disposal of toxic substances—like automotive oil—down municipal sewage. Plus, your lawn may not thank you.

Special Tools & Supplies to Help You Get the Job Done

To complete a DIY oil change, you’ll need:


Oil Filter

Starting at 7.59 $

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Jack and stands

Starting at 50.69 $

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For your safety, keep a first-aid kit and fire extinguisher nearby when doing any DIY work.

Oil filter wrench

Starting at 6.49 $

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Wrench Set

Starting at 43.99 $

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Oil Change Steps

Read these directions carefully before starting your oil change. These steps specify how to change a spin-on oil filter. If you are using a different filter, read the product’s installation instructions.

Step 1: Setting Up

After securing a flat, level surface to work on, warm your vehicle up to the operating temperature. For most modern cars, this’ll be between 75°C and 105°C.

Once your vehicle is warm, turn the engine off, put it in park, and activate the emergency brake. Put the wheel chocks in place and lift the vehicle up with a jack and jack stands. Alternatively, you can drive your car up onto ramps before turning the engine off. Ask someone to help guide you onto the ramps.

With the vehicle turned off and secured in place, put on your protective eyewear and gloves. Use the bed creeper to get underneath your vehicle.

Step 2: Drain the Old Oil

Slide the drip pan under the drain plug. Loosen the plug by turning it counterclockwise with a wrench. Remove the plug by hand, maintaining inward pressure until the plug is completely free. Do this quickly to avoid burning yourself or getting dirty.

Allow the oil to fully drain from the engine. Then, clean the drain plug and hole. Reinstall the drain plug with a new crush washer. Use your hands for proper threading, then tighten it up with a wrench.


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Ultrapro - Funnel 6"

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Step 3: Remove the Old Oil Filter

Move the drip pan underneath the oil filter. Carefully remove the filter by turning it counterclockwise with the oil filter wrench or the correct oil filter end cap. Be careful: the oil and oil filter may still be hot.

If the old filter’s gasket is still attached to the base, remove it and clean away any residual oil from the oil filter housing.

Step 4: Install the New Oil Filter

Make sure the rubber gasket on the new oil filter is in place and secure.

Apply a thin layer of clean engine oil over the entire gasket surface. Spin the new filter onto the filter housing stud. Confirm the gasket is in contact with the oil filter housing.

Only tighten the filter by hand and follow the oil filter’s installation instructions.

Step 5: Fill the Engine with Fresh Oil

Remove the oil cap from the valve cover and use the funnel to fill your motor with fresh oil. Use the oil dipstick to confirm the oil is at the proper level. Reinstall the oil cap.
Start your engine and let it run for 10 seconds before turning it off. Look for any leaks around the filter and drain plug. Check the level of the oil again with the dipstick.
If there are no leaks and the oil is at the correct level, you’re all set! Finish up by properly disposing of your old oil and filter. Call your local NAPA Auto Parts store to see if they can recycle the oil for you.
If you have any questions about changing your engine’s oil or oil filter, one of our experts at your local store would be more than happy to answer them!

6 Replies to “How to Do an Oil Change”

  1. Ahmed Misbah ur Rehman says:

    Very helpful and well explained. Really appreciate it.

  2. Pierre duval says:

    How do you delete the check engine oil warning in a Ford after oil changes

  3. Robert says:

    Being a certified mechanic I would not recommend hanging on to the hot exhaust pipe as the lady is doing in the picture of the oil draining . Also it is much easier to oil the gasket on the filter on the bench than doing it under the car, preferably with new oil.

  4. filter says:

    It’s great that you are sharing useful information. I enjoy reading your blog.
    David, author, and owner of the blog

  5. Robert says:

    What do you do to get rid of the used oil ?

    1. admin says:

      Hi Robert, you can bring it to a recycling centre or bring it back to your local NAPA store.

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