But, as with all things in life, with practice and patience – perhaps a few mistakes made along the way – every car maintenance chore can soon enough become second nature.
Changing your car’s oil is one of the easiest DIY auto maintenance tasks, and can help you save money, and become more acquainted with the inner workings of your vehicle. If you’re going to be changing your oil for the first time, take heed of the following tips to help make your very first oil change is as easy as possible.
Tip #1: Have the Proper Tools
Before you begin you first oil change, it’s important to make sure you have the right tools to get the job done. That way, you won’t end up half-way through your DIY oil change only to find out that you’re missing an important piece of equipment.
Make sure that you have the following materials on hand before you start:
- The proper engine oil
- The proper oil filter
- A few rags
- An oil filter gasket
- Safety glasses
- A container for your used oil
- A wrench set
- A rubber mallet
Tip #2: Follow Instructions
You might have all the right materials and tools to complete your first do-it-yourself oil change, but without a set of instructions to follow, you won’t know the proper steps to take and may end up damaging your vehicle in the process.
Use a detailed guide – such as this one from Edmunds.com – to make sure you complete all the necessary steps in your DIY oil change. It’s wise to follow instructions closely when performing any vehicle maintenance procedure.
Tip #3: Don’t Skimp on Oil
Make sure that you buy exactly the type of oil that your vehicle requires. If you skimp on engine oil, you run the risk of damaging our vehicle – although it’s not the brand of oil that matters, but its viscosity.
Always use oil with the correct viscosity grade (such as 10W-30) according to your owner’s manual. Failing to do so can reduce the lifespan of your car’s engine, and reduce lubrication.
Tip #4: Get the Right Type of Filter
While you’re searching for the proper type of oil, don’t forget that it’s just as important to choose the right type of filter as well.
Pairing a high quality oil with an economy filter may seem like a good way to make your oil change a little more affordable, but the outcome is not worth the small difference in price. Top-of-the-line oil filters are not much more expensive, but will hold up much better in the long run – especially if you don’t change your oil diligently every 3,000 miles.
Tip #5: Take Time When Tightening the Drain Plug
As ubiquitous as it seems, improperly tightening your drain plug and oil filter can actually end up causing damage.
After you’ve drained the old oil, and changed the oil filter, you’ll need to tighten the drain plug and install the new filter, respectively. Take time when you’re tightening these, as over-tightening can lead to damaging the drain plug, oil pan, or oil filter. Tightening these too loosely can result in oil leaks, or even engine failure, so take your time with tightening.
From oil changes to headlight repair to tire replacement, each car maintenance task is one small way to keep your vehicle in top shape for years to come. Combined with the appropriate defensive driving skills, a car emergency kit, and the right car insurance to fit your unique needs, and you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe and your car running smoothly for thousands of miles.