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Learning how to change the oil in your car is an easy way to get started doing your own auto maintenance and repairs. Oil change intervals should be listed in your owner’s manual but are normally somewhere around every 3000 to 6000 miles or 3 to 6 months, whichever comes first. Before you start you will need ramps or a jack and jack stands to get access to the drain plug and filter, a wrench and socket to remove them, a bucket to catch the used oil, some clean new oil, and a new filter. On some cars you will also need a gasket or washer for the filter or drain plug. There are many different types of filters and several different weights of oil, information on the proper replacements (and oil capacity) can be found in your owner’s manual or at the parts store.
It’s best to change the oil when the engine is warm as the oil will flow out of the pan more quickly. With the car securely in the air on the ramps or jack stands open the hood and loosen the oil fill cap. Place the bucket under the oil pan and remove the drain plug to allow the oil to drain. Once all of the oil has drained replace the plug. Move the bucket under the oil filter and remove the oil filter.
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Using a few drops of fresh oil lubricate the gasket on the new filter and install it tightly with your hand (using a tool to install the filter will usually result in over-tightening). Remove the fill cap and fill the car with about half a quart less than the recommended value. Check the dipstick to ensure thatthe oil is in the proper area, remembering that the reading will be slightly inaccurate because the car is at an angle. Start the car to ensure that there are no leaks at the drain plug or filter. Lower the car to the ground and check the oil level again. When changing the oil in your car it’s normally better to slightly underfill the engine rather than to overfill it. Be sure to take note of the vehicle’s mileage and date so that you will know when you will need to change the oil again.
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