How to Change Oil

Drain Oil

Before you can drain the oil, there are few steps you need to take to get ready for this minor auto maintenance process. The first is making sure you have the right tools and equipment on hand. To drain the oil, you're going to need a socket wrench; this will allow you to remove the bolt on your vehicle's oil pan. You're also going to need an oil filter wrench and an oil catcher or recycling container to catch and store the old oil until you dispose of it. It's also a good idea to have some rubber gloves, rags and old newspapers as well.

Next, you'll want to drive the vehicle around for a bit to warm up the engine. This allows the oil to get hot and will help it to drain out at a faster rate. Make sure you run it around the block a couple of times or even take it on the highway if you can, anything that will raise the temperature of the engine.


Once the engine is warm, park the vehicle on a flat surface, switch it off and let it sit for five or 10 minutes to allow all the oil to drain down into the oil pan. Some vehicles, like pick-up trucks and SUVs may have enough room for you to get under the vehicle to work, but most sedans and smaller cars won't. When you take your vehicle to an automotive maintenance shop, they can use a hydraulic vehicle lift to easily get underneath. But if you need the extra space, just drive the vehicle onto a set of car ramps or use a sturdy pair of jack stands.

Locate the oil drain plug under your vehicle. It'll be a large nut at the very bottom of your engine's oil pan, usually the closest thing to the ground. If you're unsure where it is, check your owner's manual or ask your mechanic to show you the next time you're in for vehicle maintenance. Use the socket wrench to loosen the nut. Remember that the oil inside is still hot, so instead of trying to catch the nut as it falls off, just let it fall into the oil pan and let the hot oil flow out. All of the oil should drain out in about two minutes. It's a good idea to lay newspapers around the container to make sure excess oil doesn't spill in unwanted areas.

Scott Memmer, from, recommends a basic car maintenance tip of replacing the sealing washer around the drain plug before you put the plug back in. This will ensure that oil won't leak out from the drain plug area. On the next page, we tell you how to change the oil filter.