Changing your oil is one of the most important things you’ll ever do for your engine. Going DIY not only saves dollars, it’s also very satisfying if you enjoy getting a little grease under your fingernails. And it’s actually a lot easier than you think with our safe step-by-step guide.
What’s the big deal about changing my oil?
Like anything, motor oil has a limited shelf life and starts to break down after a period of use, making it less efficient in lubricating and cooling engine parts.
There are two key reasons for this. Firstly, the additives that protect your engine against corrosion, oxidisation and engine wear get used up as they do their job. And secondly, contaminants like soot, carbon and acids build up and start to affect the critical properties of your oil, such as viscosity.
How often should I change my oil?
Oil that’s not changed regularly can do serious damage to your engine and compromise the safety of your vehicle. This is why manufacturers recommend that you change your oil regularly – either after a specified period of time or after a certain distance. Most owner manuals have two recommendations for oil changes – standard and severe – which are based on the kind of conditions you drive in.
Your step-by-step guide to changing oil
The first thing to do is get together everything you need to get the job done safely and well. Here’s a checklist:
• Approximately 5 litres of Penrite motor oil
Check your owner's manual for correct SAE viscosity, API or ACEA performance and quantity.
• A drop sheet
• A new oil filter
Again your owner's manual will tell you the type and size you need.
• A drain plug socket wrench or open-end wrench (exact size) and an oil filter wrench.
• A large drain pan, at least double the size of your sump.
• A rag, hand cleaning solution and/or disposable latex gloves.
• A funnel
Step 1 - Choose Your Oil
Your owner's manual will give you information on what kind of oil you need for both normal and severe driving conditions. It might surprise you to know that a lot of driving actually falls into the severe category. Extreme temperatures, frequent short trips, stop-start traffic and hauling or towing all put extra strain on your engine and mean you need an oil that is suitable for severe driving conditions, as well as more regular oil changes.
A good guide is to change your motor oil and oil filter every 5,000 kilometres or every six months, whichever comes first. Doing this will give better engine protection and prolong your engine’s life. Make sure you check your owner's manual for special conditions and do not exceed warranty recommendations.
Need some expert advice? Call Penrite’s Technical Services Helpline during business hours on 1800 110 080.
Step 2 - Prepare safely
Always put your safety first. Before you even think about getting under your vehicle, read the safety information in your manual. Choose level ground and start by laying a drop sheet to avoid permanent staining.
Unless you want to risk looking like road kill, never use a jack to support your vehicle. Wheel ramps are much more stable and will tilt the car just enough to allow you to slide underneath.
Drive your vehicle onto the wheel ramps so that the front tyres are raised, apply the emergency brake and chock the rear wheels to prevent rolling.
Put your vehicle in first gear if you have a manual transmission or park if you have an automatic transmission and you’re good to go.
Step 3 - Drain the old oil
Warm oil drains much more quickly, so run your engine for about 5 to10 minutes to bring it to normal operating temperature. Then turn off the engine and wait till it’s cool. Open the hood and loosen the oil sump cap to allow the oil to drain from the bottom more freely.
Find the oil drain plug and put the drain pan underneath it. Using a wrench, turn the plug anti-clockwise until it rotates freely. Remove the plug CAREFULLY to avoid burning yourself as the oil may still be very hot.
Step 4 - Remove the Oil Filter
Next, loosen the oil filter by turning it anti-clockwise using a filter wrench. Carefully ease it away from the engine and tip the contents into the drain pan.
Step 5 - Replace the oil filter
Using a rag, wipe in and around the filter seal on the engine. Take a new filter and apply a light film of oil (new or used) to the circular edge of the filter itself (aka the gasket).
Fill the new filter with new engine oil and screw it onto the threaded oil line in a clockwise direction. Tighten the filter by hand.
Clean the oil plug and drain set and if necessary replace the plug basket or seal. Screw the plug in by hand and finish by tightening it with a wrench, but don’t overtighten.
Step 6 - Add clean oil
Unscrew the cap on top of your engine (the one that says “Oil”!) and fill her up with the recommended amount of oil, checking the level with the dipstick. Replace the cap and wipe off excess oil.
Now it’s time to test your handiwork. The oil light should go out as soon as the engine is switched on.