Revved Up: How to change oil

My level of experience in changing oil in my own vehicle is equal to the number of times I can flip a pizza, twirl and sing “Yankee Doodle Dandy” at the same time. Zero.

Anyone who knows me knows I did not grow up in a household where changing oil was a skill we possessed. Though I am a self-professed “tomboy,” I still have zero experience with car maintenance.

I had many all-too-willing participants to teach me how to change oil, but frankly, I think they just really wanted to see me slither under a vehicle and have the inevitable stream of filthy oil splatter me in the face.

To avoid a debacle of enormous environmental proportions, I called on Performance Plus Quick Lube Manager Sonny Snyder to assist me in this new adventure. I showed up at Performance Plus on Saturday afternoon in my grungy duds, ready to roll up my sleeves and grab a wrench.

Donning a pair of clear safety glasses, I followed Snyder into what is referred to as “wells,” a sub-level floor where mechanics can more easily access vehicles from underneath.

Short from celebrity “gear heads” like Jay Leno, most of us do not have the luxury of having wells in our garages at home. Common folk will typically use ramps to raise the front end of a vehicle or use jacks and jack stands, then slide under the belly of the vehicle and begin the surgical process of changing out the oil.

Daily News features writer Stacie Rose learns the basic how-to’s of changing oil in a vehicle


Basic steps to changing oil

• Asses the amount of oil already in the vehicle. This needs to be done after the vehicle has run for a few minutes as a cold check will be inaccurate and likely show more than the engine is actually using.

• Remove the oil dipstick from the engine, wipe it clean and reinsert.

• Remove the dipstick again and check where the current oil level is as indicated on the hash marks on the dipstick. Each line marks a quart of oil. Use the cap for the oil reservoir to place near the latch of the hood to prevent the hood from slamming shut. Snyder advises going by the manufacturer’s guidelines with
the amount of oil that is to be replaced in the vehicle.

• After determining the amount of oil required and getting the vehicle safely lifted, take an oil catch pan and place directly underneath.

• Using a wrench to loosen the bolt on the oil pan, carefully remove the bolt and aim the catch pan under the flow of oil. Performance Plus recycles old oil so used oil can be dropped off there.

• Once the oil has been drained, the oil filter should be removed by hand, though, if necessary, it may require the use of an oil filter wrench to do so. Some oil collects in the filter, as well, so that, too, will need to be drained.

• Once all the oil has drained, put the bolt back on the oil tank but do not over-tighten as this will affect the seal.

• Next, replace the oil filter but first lubricate the outer ring with clean oil to make for a good seal to prevent leaks. This, too, should be tightened by hand.

• Once the filter is in place, turn halfway to make a proper seal.

• When the oil filter has been replaced and the oil tank has been sealed, pour in the new, recommended amount of oil.

• Be sure to put the cap of the oil tank back on, then run the engine for a couple minutes.

• Return underneath the vehicle to make certain that neither the tank nor the filter are leaking.

• Check the oil level with the dipstick and, if there is adequate oil, the oil change is complete.

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