Monday, July 22, 2024

How Long Does an Oil Change Take? The 5 Step Process in Under 15 Minutes


Regular oil changes are vital for the seamless operation and longer lifespan of your vehicle. However, embarking on this maintenance task can seem intimidating for many.

This comprehensive guide aims to empower you by providing easy to follow steps on how you can successfully change your car’s oil yourself, promoting not only optimal engine performance but also substantial savings on routine vehicle upkeep.

You will learn about the importance of timely oil changes, the role of oil in your engine, and the consequences of neglect.

We will also demystify the process of oil changes and guide you to perform this task with confidence, from preparing your vehicle and draining oil, to replacing the filter, topping up new oil, and even responsible disposal of used oil.

Armed with this knowledge, you will be in a stronger position to contribute to the health and efficiency of your vehicle, ensuring it continues to serve you reliably for many years ahead.

So, let’s dive in, roll up our sleeves, and learn how to properly maintain one of our biggest investments – our vehicles!

Why Regular Oil Changes Are So Important

Getting regular oil changes is one of the most important steps you can take to keep your vehicle running smoothly for years to come.

Most mechanics recommend changing your oil every 3,000-5,000 miles or every 3-6 months, whichever comes first.

An oil change may seem simple enough, but clean oil is the lifeblood of your vehicle’s engine.

Oil helps lubricate the internal moving parts in the engine and keeps everything operating efficiently. It also helps trap debris and prevent engine wear.

Over time, oil breaks down from heat and friction, becoming dirty.

This contaminated oil can’t protect your engine properly. Ultimately, this leads to costly repairs if the oil is not changed regularly.

Don’t put it off until your vehicle starts having problems. By getting timely oil changes, you’ll extend the life of your engine and prevent major breakdowns.

Read on to learn the easy 5 step process so you can tackle this maintenance task yourself.

Step 1: Prepare Your Vehicle

How Long Does An Oil Change Take Jpeg

Before beginning the oil change, make sure your vehicle is properly prepared.

The most important thing is to park on level ground and apply the parking brake.

Parking on an incline could lead to the oil draining unevenly and not fully emptying from the engine.

Securely applying the parking brake will prevent the vehicle from rolling while you’re working under it.

Additionally, let the engine cool completely before beginning the oil change.

Hot oil can burn if it makes contact with skin. Allow at least a couple hours after driving for the engine and oil to fully cool.

It’s also a good idea to have all your materials ready – new oil, tools, oil drain pan, etc. This way you’re not searching for items once you start the process.

Lastly, wear appropriate clothing you don’t mind getting dirty, as spills do happen.

Now your vehicle is prepped and you’re ready to move on to Step 2!

Step 2: Pop the Hood

How To Open The Hood Of A Car

Locating the oil fill cap and drain plug is an important part of changing your oil.

Here are the steps to pop the hood and find these items:

  1. Inside your vehicle, look for the hood release lever. This is usually located underneath the steering column near the floor. Pull the lever and you’ll hear the hood pop up slightly.
  2. Go to the front of your vehicle. Reach under the front edge of the hood to locate the safety latch. Push up on the latch until you can lift the hood all the way up.
  3. Secure the hood by inserting the hood prop rod into the slot. This will hold the hood open while you work.
  4. Now you can locate the oil fill cap and drain plug:
    • The oil fill cap is on top of the engine and says “OIL” on it. Turn it counter-clockwise to remove.
    • The drain plug is located underneath the engine on the oil pan. It may be hex-shaped or have a bolt head.
  5. Familiarize yourself with the location of both items so you can access them easily while changing your oil.
  6. When finished, lower the hood gently and close it securely to hear the latch click.

Step 3: Drain the Oil

Drain The Oil

Place the drain pan underneath the oil drain plug. The drain plug is typically located on the bottom of the engine on the oil pan.

Make sure the drain pan is positioned to catch the used oil. Using the correct sized wrench or socket, loosen the plug by turning it counterclockwise.

Once loosened, unscrew the plug completely so the used oil can drain out.

Allow adequate time for all the used oil to drain out of the engine and into the drain pan. This usually takes 5-10 minutes.

Avoid tilting or moving the vehicle during this time.

When the oil is fully drained, examine the drain plug for any debris or metal particles that could indicate a problem.

Wipe the plug clean and set it aside for now.

Step 4: Replace the Oil Filter

Replace The Filter 1 Jpg
Close up used oil filter in hand a man compare with the new oil filter service concept of oil in the check period

Locating the oil filter is an important part of the oil change process.

The oil filter is a cylindrical shaped filter that is typically located under the oil fill cap or towards the bottom of the engine.

Older filters may be spin-on while newer vehicles use a cartridge style filter.

To remove the old oil filter, locate it first then use an oil filter wrench to turn it counterclockwise to loosen it.

The wrench will grip the filter tightly so you can unscrew it.

Make sure the old o-ring comes off with the filter.

Take your new oil filter and apply a thin coat of fresh oil to the o-ring.

Check that the o-ring is flush with the base of the filter.

Then screw on the new filter by turning it clockwise until it is snug. Do not overtighten or you could damage the gasket. The filter should be hand tightened about 2/3 to 3/4 of a turn after it contacts the engine surface.

Replacing the oil filter is crucial to getting all the old contaminated oil out of the engine during an oil change.

Use the proper tools and take care when removing the old filter and installing the new one.

Step 5: Add New Engine Oil

Add New Oil Jpg

Once the oil filter has been replaced, you can add new oil to the engine.

Be sure to add the correct amount and type of oil as specified in your owner’s manual. Adding too much or too little oil can cause performance issues.

When adding new oil, only use the oil type recommended for your vehicle by the manufacturer, usually written somewhere on the oil fill cap or in your owner’s manual.

Common oil types are conventional, synthetic blend, full synthetic, and high mileage oils. Using the wrong oil type can lead to increased engine wear over time.

Slowly pour in the correct amount of new oil, checking the dipstick periodically to monitor the oil level.

Avoid overfilling, as this can cause oil leaks or engine damage.

The dipstick will have markings for the minimum and maximum oil level – be sure the oil level falls within those two marks after refilling.

Once you’ve added the full amount of new oil specified by the manufacturer, screw the oil fill cap back on securely.

Double check that your oil level on the dipstick reads between the minimum and maximum lines. You should be good to go after adding the proper amount and type of new oil.

Reset Oil Change Light

Steps To Reset The Oil Change Light Jpg

Resetting the maintenance light after an oil change is important to keep track of your next oil change interval. Here are the steps to reset the oil change light:

  1. Turn the ignition to the “on” position without starting the engine.
  2. Locate the reset button for the maintenance light. This is usually near the steering wheel. It may be labeled “RESET” or have a wrench icon. Consult your owner’s manual if you cannot find it.
  3. Press and hold the reset button until the maintenance light resets. For some vehicles, you may need to press the button repeatedly or turn the key to different positions to reset it. The maintenance light should go off or display a reset message.
  4. Start the engine and verify the maintenance light is no longer illuminated.
  5. You can also verify the maintenance counter has been reset by checking your dashboard display. It should show the full mileage interval before the next oil change.
  6. Some vehicles will need to be driven a short distance before the light resets. Consult your manual if the maintenance light stays on after following the reset procedure.

Resetting the maintenance light is crucial to keep your vehicle running smoothly and avoid any engine issues between oil changes. Take a few minutes after your oil change to complete this simple reset process.

Dispose of Old Oil

Disposing of old engine oil properly is an important step after changing your oil to avoid contaminating the environment. Never dump oil down the drain, on the ground, or into the trash. There are a few recommended methods for safe oil disposal:

Recycle it – Many auto parts stores, repair shops, and local recycling centers will accept used oil for recycling. This is the best option as the old oil gets cleaned and re-refined into new oil. Call ahead to find locations near you that recycle oil. Pour the used oil back into the original containers or into a sealable container labeled “used oil” for transport.

Use it in your heating system – If you have an oil burning furnace, the used motor oil can be safely burned as heating oil. Check with the furnace manufacturer for instructions on pre-treating and filtering the oil. Do not use engine oil with gasoline mixed in.

Bring it to a household hazardous waste collection site – Most counties have scheduled days where you can bring household chemicals like used oil to be disposed of properly. Contact your local environmental or recycling agency to find out when the collection days are scheduled. Used oil will be accepted at these events.

Properly disposing of oil keeps it out of our groundwater and environment. With some simple planning, you can make sure your used oil gets recycled or disposed of safely.

Check for Leaks

After changing the oil and filter, it’s important to check for any leaks or seepage. Here are the steps to properly inspect for leaks:

– Allow the engine to run for 5-10 minutes after the oil change. This allows the new oil to fully circulate throughout the engine.

– With the engine still running, visually inspect the oil filter and drain plug areas. Look for any droplets, drips, or seepage. A very small amount of oil around the filter can be normal, but larger amounts indicate a leak.

– Check the oil pan and base of the engine for any oil accumulation. Some seepage may be normal around gaskets and seals. However, any sizable dripping or pooling could indicate a leak from the oil pan gasket or rear main seal.

– Shut off the engine and wait 15-20 minutes. Then inspect again for any new drips or drops under the car. Oil leaks are sometimes more apparent after the engine sits.

– Pay close attention to the oil filter and drain plug areas again. Use a flashlight to illuminate any hard-to-see areas. Look for any newly formed drops of oil.

– Wipe any leaked oil with a lint-free rag. Then start the engine again and recheck for any additional leakage.

– If you find a leak that requires repair, apply an oil-absorbing agent like kitty litter to the affected area before taking the vehicle in for service. This will help minimize any environmental impact from the leak. Regularly checking for oil leaks after oil changes can help identify issues early, before they become more serious. A little diligence goes a long way in keeping your engine healthy.

How Often Should You Check Your Engine Oil?

How Long Does An Oil Change Take

In the intricate symphony of car care, one key note stands out: How Often Should You Check Your Engine Oil?

Consider your engine’s oil the lifeblood, a vigilant custodian of your vehicle’s vitality. The frequency of this check-up isn’t a mere ritual; it’s a dialogue between you and your engine’s well-being.

Think of it as a routine health check, ensuring your engine’s elixir maintains its optimal levels.

The dipstick, a tool of vehicular divination, reveals the oil’s state – a dance between viscosity and clarity.

Regular scrutiny allows you to intercept potential issues before they morph into a vehicular saga.

Now, how long does an oil change take enters the conversation. This isn’t just a matter of minutes; it’s a calculated balance between the swift efficiency of a technician and the thoroughness your engine craves.

The frequency of oil checks plays a role in deciphering the duration between these automotive pit stops.

In the automotive ballet, checking engine oil isn’t a sporadic act; it’s a habit, a pact with your vehicle’s longevity.

So, as you pop the hood, consider it a dialogue with your four-wheeled companion, ensuring its engine hums with harmonious vitality on the road ahead.


If you’ve carefully followed the previous 5 steps for changing your car’s oil, you can feel satisfied knowing you’ve properly maintained your vehicle’s engine.

While changing your oil may seem daunting at first, most vehicles make the process straightforward once you get under the hood.

The benefits of routinely changing your oil every 5,000-7,500 miles are immense.

Not only does it keep your engine running smoothly, but it also reduces wear on internal components and prevents harmful buildup.

Fresh oil optimizes engine performance and fuel economy while providing vital cooling and lubrication.

So remember to consult your owner’s manual for the recommended oil change interval and stick to it.

Proactively changing your oil as needed will extend the longevity of your engine and prevent avoidable repairs down the road.

This simple maintenance task truly makes a huge difference in the health and functioning of your vehicle.

Pat yourself on the back for taking the time to properly care for your car or truck – you’ve just invested in its future!

The Tire Reviews Team
The Tire Reviews Team
Rev up your knowledge with The Tire Reviews, your one-stop pit stop for swift and concise tire reviews. We cut through the noise, delivering the lowdown on treads that matter. Whether you're chasing performance or seeking a smooth commute, join us as we navigate the world of tires.

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