Turn off the car and raise it up
To start, your engine and oil should be warm - this will make draining the oil easier. After turning off the car, give it a few minutes to cool down so you do not accidentally burn yourself while you work.
Most vehicles will need to be raised to provide enough clearance to access the oil filter; a pair of car service ramps like the hydraulic Black Widow Car Lift Ramps elevates your vehicle for easy access.
Once your car is ready, locate your oil filter and drain plug. Keep in mind: Newer cars may have an undercover, which can hide the drain plug and filter. The undercover is usually easy to remove, but may require additional tools.
Drain the old oil
Once you have your car prepared, it’s time to drain the oil. Your oil will drain at a slight angle, so be sure your pan is large enough to catch it. Once your oil pan is in place, remove the oil fill cap. With gloves on, loosen the drain plug using a common size wrench. Slowly remove the drain plug while keeping your hands away from the expected path of the old oil.
While the oil is draining, inspect your drain plug to make sure it’s still in good working condition. If any of the threads appear to be damaged, find a replacement at your local auto parts store. Do not try to reinstall a damaged drain plug. When the oil stops coming out, put the drain plug back and tighten it by hand. It should be easy to turn the bolt until the head is snug against the pan. If you encounter resistance before then, you may have cross-threaded the drain plug. Pull it out and try again. If you continue to encounter resistance, double check the threads on the drain plug and pan for damage.
Once you have hand-tightened the drain plug, you can use a tool to finish the job. Ideally, you should use a torque wrench set to the vehicle manufacturer’s exact torque specification. In a pinch, you can also use a typical combination or box wrench. Tighten the drain plug with an additional quarter to a half turn. Do not overtighten the plug.
Changing the Oil Filter
Once you have drained the oil, you will need to change the oil filter. If you can’t loosen the filter by hand, use a filter wrench (available at most auto parts stores) to loosen the oil filter, but go slowly and switch to unscrewing the filter by hand as soon as you are able. When the filter is loose, oil will start to come out around the perimeter. Hold the filter over the pan to drain it. Then use rags to clean as much oil away as you can, especially around the filter sealing surface, and make sure the gasket hasn’t stuck to the surface. Add a dab of new oil onto your new filter’s gasket. Install the new filter by gently spinning it until the gasket is secure against the sealing surface. Typically the oil filter box will tell you when it’s fully tightened.
Add the New Oil
Don’t forget to add the new oil! Once the drain bolt and filter are both properly in place, add the oil. Consult your owner’s manual to see how much new oil your car will require. Once you’ve added the proper amount, replace the oil cap and start your engine. Keep the engine running for about 30 seconds to let the new oil circulate, then shut it off and check for any leaks under your car. Finally, check your oil levels to make sure it’s fully filled.