All right. So we commend you for wanting to be less of a girly-girl. But listen, DAME holds common sense above all things. If you want to learn how to change your own oil because you want to develop an intimate relationship with your car, a machine that responds to your every command, and that can be changed, well then, by all means print out this handy little guide.
But, if you’re doing it to be Sally Spendthrift, let me tell you what: Take your car to any local Jiffy or Grease Monkey, and for just under $30 and twenty minutes, you’ve got clean oil, washer fluid, steering fluid, brake fluid, and crystal-clear windows. For this project, you will have to invest in the proper tools and supplies and use your own time. Logically, it’s just better to take it to Jiffy. But again, if you’re doing this for your own personal pleasure, or you plan on being with your car in a place that is miles away from any JL, here’s what you’ll need:
1. Say goodbye to your manicure, and put on some clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.
2. Find a locale that will take your dirty oil and oil filter, sans fee. Check with your Jiffy Lube. Can’t dump it just anywhere, lest you be fined an exorbitant fee by the EPA or feel like a terrible person.
3. Shave your head, or cover it up. You don’t want oil in there.
4. Get yourself a nice little work area, and bring all the following necessary tools, all of which you can find at your neighborhood friendly hardware store, and grocery store:
a. Oil—get a name brand, such as Mobil, Pennzoil, Castrol, etc. (How much and what grade can be found in owner’s manual.)
b. A new oil filter (see vehicle’s owner’s manual for requirements)
c. 3/8-drive socket set (metric will work for both)
d. A combination wrench set (closed- and open-ended, metric)
e. An oil filter wrench
f. Two jack stands
g. A pan or bucket to catch the old oil
h. Two 1-gallon plastic containers with screw on lids (empty ones, that is)
i. A funnel
j. 1-quart Ziploc baggie
k. A lot of old newspapers and several dirty rags
l. Four large bricks or rocks.
m. A Scorpions CD
5. Do it every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, or every three months, whichever comes first. One day you’ll pull yourself from under a car in a skintight, blue workman’s suit, wipe the sweat off your forehead leaving a cute smudge on your face, and then pull out a cherry red lollipop and go to work on that, because nothing can quench a serious thirst like pure sugar. Until that day, we’ll just give you the basics.
Step One: Find a flat space upon which you can perform your delicate surgery. Angles will throw off your precision, potentially cause oil to get all over the place, and generally just make things difficult.
Step Two: Drive your car around a bit to heat up the oil, and make it easier to deal with.
Step Three: Park in a flat spot.
Step Four: Turn off car, and set the parking brake. Block the tires with bricks to prevent any accidents.
Step Five: Put on your work suit, line up your tools, and get ready to get drrrrrrty.
Step Six: Slide under the car (YES!) and find the oil drain plug. The drain plug may be labeled “Drain Plug,” but if you see no such sign, just look for a big nut with a washer underneath it close to the floor.
If you can’t slide under your car, you must put your car on a jack stand. This is not the same as a tire jack. Supporting a car with only a tire jack is extremely dangerous. Please, use a jack stand. Go buy one if you don’t have one. The tire jack that comes with your car won’t cut it. Anyway, read your operator’s manual and find out where the proper placement for jack stands are on your car. You can use a tire jack and lift up the car on one side, place the stand under its appropriate tab, and then repeat the process for the other side. (p.s—Don’t use a tire jack to support your car.)
Step Seven: Pull out your socket wrenches (c) and find one that fits over the nut. Place socket wrench over nut, turn socket counter clockwise (“righty tighty, lefty loosey”—and you’re trying to loosey). Crank it slightly loose. Not too loose, because you’ve got to get out from under there before oil is all over the place.
Step Eight: Line the floor with newspaper. Give yourself ample coverage. Get your drain pan or bucket (f) and place it under the recently loosened drain plug. Check your drain plug and notice the angle at which it sticks out. If it’s out to the side, instead of straight down, the oil will shoot out sideways. So, adjust pan placement accordingly. Loosen the plug, set it aside and let the oil drain. It should take about two minutes.
Step Nine: Okay, now find your oil filter wrench (e), and slip it onto your socket wrench. The OFW is a round piece that aids gripping. Since it only grips in one direction, place it in such a way that it pulls counter-clockwise. Loosen the Oil Filter and turn counter clockwise.
Pull it out by hand, being careful not to spill on yourself, and pour the content out into the drain pan. Put the used oil filter aside. Finally, slide out from under the car, pop the hood, and remove the oil filter cap. Allow oil to drain for a while.
Step Ten: Get your new oil filter (b). Read the instructions on the can to learn how to properly deal with it. Dip a little finger into the drain pan and smear some of that onto the bottom of the filter. Then, get a rag and wipe up and around the area under the car where the oil filter fits. This is just to ensure good placement of your filter. Next, take your filter and screw it into place. Put your oil filter wrench over your socket wrench and tighten that up.
Step Eleven: Now, grab your washer and drain plug (the nut you set aside in step seven), and tighten those back into place with your socket wrench.
Step Twelve: Grab plastic bottles (g), your funnel (h) and a Ziploc bag (i). Place funnel atop of opened bottle. Pour oil from pan/bucket, into funnel, which will direct wayward oil down into lovely contained space. Tighten cap on bottle, clean funnel.
Step Thirteen: Pop hood (if not already), find oil cap, and uncap oil cap. Put the funnel into the oil container in your car and pour in the amount of oil (a) recommended by your manufacturer. Use dipstick to check oil level. Twist cap back on.
Step Fourteen: Take old oil filter, put it in a zip lock bag, and seal!
Step Fifteen: Start engine, and look for leaks. Take your used materials to the nearest oil recycling center and dispose of them there.
Step Sixteen: Clean up. Turn off Scorpions. Notice the hair growing on your chest.
By Rachel Thomas