How to Change the Oil and Filter in Your Car

A split screen of a hand using a screwdriver on a car engine and oil draining out of the pan.
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner

Changing the oil in your car is an important maintenance task. Luckily, changing the oil and oil filter is an easy process that will save you time and money in the long run. Here’s a quick guide on how to perform a basic oil and oil filter change on your vehicle.

Step 1 - Check the Owner’s Manual

The owner’s manual will tell you what kind of oil and oil filter are best for your vehicle.

Step 2 – Determine the Style of Oil Filter Needed

If you are uncertain about what type of oil filter is best, ask the experts at O’Reilly Auto Parts about what to purchase. You can also use the opportunity to pick up any tools or items you need to finish the job.

Step 3 - Raise the Car

A white car being raised on a jack.

When you have all the materials on hand, jack up the front end of your car. This will give you better access to the oil pan, though it is not a necessary step for some vehicles. If the car’s engine is still hot, wait about half an hour before changing the oil. Remember, never work underneath a car that is not supported with jack stands. It’s also recommended to use wheel chocks to prevent the car from rolling.

Step 4 - Remove the Oil

Begin by unscrewing the oil cap under the hood of your car. This helps the oil flow better out of the pan. Then, locate the oil pan underneath the car. Check the owner’s manual if you have trouble identifying where the oil is stored. The pan will have a plug that is used to drain out the oil. Position your oil catch container under the plug and keep your funnel nearby. Find a box end wrench that fits the plug and loosen it. It usually takes a few minutes before all the oil is drained.

Step 5 - Pan Maintenance

Someone cleaning oil plug threads.

Clean the oil plug threads with a rag and look for any signs of wear and tear on the pan. You can buy a replacement oil plug if it’s damaged. After the old oil is fully drained, screw the drain plug back in and tighten it down.

Step 6 - Change the Oil Filter

Find the location of the old oil filter under the hood of the car. The owner's manual will provide this information if you have trouble finding it. Place some rags or another container under the filter to catch excess oil. Using a filter wrench, loosen the filter and allow the oil to escape before removing it completely. Coat the gasket on the new filter with some oil and screw it in place. Use the directions on the filter package to determine how tight you need to secure it.

Step 7 - Pour New Oil

Someone wiping a dipstick after checking the engine oil levels or a car.

With the old oil drained and the new filter in place, it’s time to put new oil in the engine. Pour the new oil into the oil reservoir using a funnel. Fill the reservoir to the specified volume mentioned in the owner’s manual, and screw down the oil cap when finished. You can double-check the volume using the oil dipstick. It’s a good idea to run the engine after changing the oil and inspect for any leaks. If everything looks good, remove the jack stands and lower the car.