How to change your own oil change

Servicing your own car

Change the oil and the oil filter as directed by your owner’s manual-usually every 6 months or every 6,000 to 7,500 miles. If the car is often used to pull a trailer, for trips under 10 miles, or in heavy traffic, change the oil and filter twice as often. Diesels and turbo charged gasoline engines may need a change every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.

Draining the old oil

Hot oil flows better; drain the old oil while the engine is warm. Remove the oil-filler cap and raise the front end of the car. Place a  1.5 gallon plastic catch pan under the drain plug. The plug resembles a large bolt in the oil pan, the metal cover on the bottom of the engine. Loosen the plug with a wrench; then unscrew it by hand, pulling it away quickly so that oil won’t splash you.

An air-cooled VW engine has no oil pan. Instead there is a circular cover plate held by six screws. Remove it to drain the oil and to clean the strainer. If the cover plate has a drain plug, remove the plug, drain the oil, then remove the cover to clean the strainer.

When the oil stops draining, screw the plug back in by hand, reusing any sealing washer. Don’t force the plug; it may “crossthread,” damaging the threads and resulting in leaks. Keep trying until it goes in smoothly, then tighten it with a wrench. At this point, you should change the oil filter. Then lower the car.

Adding the new oil

To refill with fresh oil, first check your owner’s manual for oil capacity and for the thickness (viscosity) recommendation; the latter may vary according to season. Refill a gasoline engine with an oil marked “For service SF.” An SF-CD oil is usually recommended for a diesel, but check your owner’s manual.

Start the engine and check for leaks. Tighten the plug and filter if necessary. Stop the engine, wait 5 minutes, then check the oil level. Add more oil if needed.

Pour the used oil into a plastic jug and give it to a service station that has a used-oil holding tank.