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oil filler cap for changing motor oil


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Regular motor oil and filter changes can minimize engine wear and prolong the life of your engine. Oil gets dirty over time, and can form engine-damaging sludge if it is not changed.


For optimum protection, the oil and filter can be changed every 3 to 6 months or 3000 miles, whichever comes first, or according to the recommended service schedule in your owners manual. If you do a lot of short trip stop-and-go driving, especially during cold weather, change the oil every 3000 miles. If you drive a diesel or a turbocharged engine, change it every 3000 miles. If you do mostly highway driving, change your oil every 5000 miles.

Some would say these recommendations are wasteful and not necessary to adequately maintain your engine. Many auto makers now recommend 7,500 mile oil changes or even longer service intervals based on oil monitoring systems that take into account such things as engine operating speeds and idle time, ambient temperatures, engine loads and other variables that affect oil life. Extended oil change intervals may get your engine through its warranty period, but may not be the best practice if you plan on keeping your vehicle long term. Also, the 7,500 mile and longer oil change intervals are based on using top quality synthetic motor oil, not conventional oils or the bulk oils that many quick lube shops put into their customer's vehicles.

Personally, I would NOT recommend 7,500 mile or longer oil change intervals. I would rather be guilty of over-maintaining my engine than neglecting it and having my engine fail. The repair bill for replacing an engine can cost you thousands of dollars. So I'd rather change the oil a little more often than might be absolutely necessary than risk ruining my engine because I waited too long to change the oil.


* Four, five or six quarts of oil (refer to your owners manual for you engine's oil capacity).

* Make sure the oil you choose meets the OEM service requirements and is the correct viscosity for your engine. Using the wrong viscosity can cause problems, and using an oil that does not meet the OEM service requirements risks damaging your engine!

* New oil filter (make sure the size, threaded opening and seal diameter are the same as your old filter).

* Oil filter wrench to loosen a spin-on filter, or the proper sized socket wrench to loosen the plastic cap on a cartridge style oil filter housing.

oil filter wrenches Assorted oil filter wrenches

* Wrench or socket to fit the drain plug on the bottom of the oil pan (a 6-point socket is best because it reduces the risk of rounding off the hex head plug if the plug is really tight).

* Catch pan that can hold up to six quarts of oil.

* A clean funnel for adding oil to the engine.

* A clean rag.

* Latex or Nitrile rubber gloves (recommended to minimize skin contact with used oil, which can be carcinogenic).

* A floor jack AND four-leg sturdy safety stands to raise and support your vehicle.

* A container to hold the used motor oil (for recycling). An old plastic milk jug works fine for this purpose.

oil change


You can change the oil hot or cold. The advantage of changing it hot is that it drains more quickly. But you have to be careful not to burn yourself, and up to half a quart of used oil main still remain in the upper parts of the engine. The advantage of changing the oil cold is that there's no hot oil to burn you, and the engine has sat long enough for almost all of the oil to have drained down into the oil pan.

1. Set the parking brake, and raise the vehicle so you can reach the drain plug on the bottom of the oil pan and filter. Spin-on metal oil filters are typically located on the front, side or back of the engine block. On some late model vehicles, you may have to remove a metal or plastic shield to access the filter.

CAUTION: NEVER crawl under a vehicle that is supported by a jack alone. Always use safety stands to support the weight of the vehicle BEFORE you crawl underneath it.

2. Position your catch pan under the engine so it will catch the oil as it drains out of the engine. Oil will usually squirt out several inches if the drain plug is located on the side rather than the bottom of the oil pan, so be sure to position your catch pan accordingly.

3. Loosen the drain plug with your wrench (turn the plug counterclockwise). Then slowly back the plug out until it's almost free. Protect your fingers with a rag if the oil is hot, then quickly twist the plug the rest of the way out. Gravity will take care of the rest.

TIP: If you accidentally drop the drain plug into the catch pan, you can fish it out with a magnet.

changing oil Draining the old oil from the engine's oil pan

4. Let the oil drain until the dripping has mostly stopped. This should not take longer than four or five minutes. When the oil has finished draining, replace the drain plug and tighten it (turn it clockwise). Make sure the drain plug is tight enough so that it will not come loose, but not so tight that it will strip the treads or be difficult to remove the next time the oil is changed.

NOTE: The oil drain plugs on engines with aluminum oil pans usually have a thin metal washer to help seal and lock the plug when it is tightened. With repeated use, the washer can become worn and deformed, which may prevent the plug from sealing properly or remaining tight. Replacing the old washer with a new one is recommended. Many cartridge style filters come with a new drain plug washer an o-ring seal for the plastic filter housing cap. These parts are included for a reason so use them.

If the drain plug is damaged: If the drain plug leaks or the threads on the plug or in the oil pan drain hole are damaged, self-tapping repair plugs are available in most auto parts stores. This is an easier fix than replacing the entire oil pan.

Changing a Spin-On Oil Filter

5. If your engine has a spin-on oil filter, locate the filter and loosen it by turning it counterclockwise with your filter wrench. Make sure your catch pan is positioned under the filter, then spin the filter the rest of the way off. Hold the filter upright as it comes off so the oil inside doesn't spill out. You can then dump the residual oil in the filter into your catch pan. If the location of the filter causes oil to dribble over steering or suspension components, the exhaust system, hoses or other components, wipe off the spilled oil so it doesn't make a mess. Spilled oil on a hot exhaust pipe will burn, smoke and stink when the next time the vehicle is driven and the pip gets hot, c

Can't get a spin-on filter loose? If a spin-on filter was overtightened the last time the oil was changed, it may be very difficult or impossible to loosen by hand. A rubber strap style filter wrench or channel lock style filter wrench may provide more grip than a socket style filter wrench that fits over the end of the filter. Another way to remove a filter that won't turn is to drive a screwdriver through the filter then use the screwdriver like a lever to twist it loose.

CAUTION: The one thing you should never do is skip changing the filter because it is too hard to reach or you can't get it loose. If the filter plugs up, oil will bypass it and circulate unfiltered through the engine. This accelerates engine wear tremendously -- and can, if the bypass valve fails to open, completely ruin your engine.

6. Place a few drops of fresh oil on your finger and wipe it around the rubber seal on the new oil filter. This will help the seal seat properly when the filter is installed. Then spin-on the new filter and HAND TIGHTEN it clockwise until it is snug. The filter should be turned about three-quarters of a turn after the rubber seal makes initial contact with the engine. You can use your filter wrench to final tighten the filter if you can't turn it 3/4 turn by hand. Just don't over-tighten it or it will be difficult to remove next time.

CAUTION: Be careful not to cross-thread the filter. Make sure it turns freely and easily before you fully tighten it. Also, if the filter does not want to screw on easily, sticks or jams, back it off and check the treads for proper fit and damage. Make sure you have the correct filter for your engine. You might have a filter with SAE threads for an application that requires a filter with metric threads.

TIP: You can't do this with a sideways mounted oil filter, but if the filter is mounted vertically, you can add some fresh oil to the filter before it goes on. This will reduce the time it takes to fill the filter with oil and build oil pressure after the engine is first started.

Changing a Cartridge Oil Filter

changing a cartridge oil filter
Cartridge style oil filters are located inside a plastic housing with a hex-head cap.
Most of these filters can be reached from above and are easy to change.

installing a cartridge oil filter
A cartridge style oil filter just drops into the housing.
Replacing the o-ring seal on the cap is recommended to prevent leaks.

If your engine has a canister style paper filter inside a plastic housing with a removable cap, changing the filter should be very easy. Use a large 6-point socket to loosen and remove the cap on the filter housing, then pull out the old filter and drop in the new one. Some filters may have a small rubber plug to help align it properly inside the housing, so make sure the plug lines up with the hole inside the housing.

The plastic cap on a cartridge style oil filter housing will have a rubber o-ring to seal the threads. Although the o-ring can usually be reused several times, replacing the o-ring when changing the filter is recommended.

CAUTION: When replacing the o-ring in the cap, make sure it is fully seated in its groove. If the o-ring is damaged or not in its groove, it may slip or be deformed when the cap is tightened down. The result will be a major oil leak as soon as the engine is started!

7. Find the oil filler cap on the engine (usually located on a valve cover), open it and add the required type of oil and number of quarts to refill the crankcase to its normal full level. The brand of oil does not matter as long as it is a good quality product and is the correct viscosity for the application and meets the OEM service requirements.

Don't overfill or underfill the crankcase: Most four-cylinder engines hold four quarts of oil, but some may require five. Most late model V6 engines have a five quart oil capacity, but some may hold six quarts. V8 engines may have a five quart, six quart or even higher oil capacity. Don't guess! If you don't know how much oil your engine holds, look up your engine's oil capacity in your Owners Manual or online. Overfilling the engine with too much oil can cause oil leaks. And if the oil level is too high and touches the crankshaft, the crank can whip the oil into foam causing a loss of oil pressure which may result in engine damage or failure. If you accidentally overfill your engine with too much oil, remove the excess by opening the drain plug on the bottom of the oil pan to let out some oil. Catch the oil in a clean catch pan so you can reuse it later.

8. Replace and tighten the oil filler cap on the engine.

9. Pull out the dipstick, wipe it off, stick it back in, then pull it out again to check the oil level in your engine. The oil level should be at or slightly above the FULL mark if you added the correct amount of oil.

oil dipstock
Check the dipstick after refilling the engine with oil to make sure the oil level is correct.
NOTE: If you added an extra 1/4 to 1/2 quart of oil for replacing the filter,
the oil level will read slightly above the full mark. But the level will come back down
to the full mark after the has engine has started and the filter has filled with oil.

9. Start the engine and let it idle. Don't rev it up because it takes a few seconds for the oil to pump through the new filter and come up to pressure. The oil pressure warning light may remain on for a few seconds until oil pressure reaches normal.

10. Look under your vehicle to make sure the drain plug and filter are not leaking. If you see oil dripping on the ground, shut the engine off, locate the leak and fix the problem.

11. Shut the engine off, let it sit for a few minutes then recheck the oil level on the dipstick. It should be at the FULL mark. Add additional oil if necessary to compensate for oil that filled the filter.

12. Mark down the date, mileage, brand and viscosity of oil you used to change the oil so you'll know when to change the oil again.

13. Dispose of the used oil by pouring it into a sealed container and taking it to an auto parts store, repair shop or other facility that accepts used motor oil for recycling. DO NOT dump used oil on the ground, down a storm sewer or down the toilet.

14. If you didn't wear gloves, wash your hands to remove all traces of oil.

15. Don't leave oily rags laying around because oily rags may spontaneously combust under the right conditions and start a fire! Put the oil rags in a sealed fireproof metal container for later disposal (or washing and reuse), or burn them.

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