As a car owner, there is perhaps nothing more satisfying than changing your vehicle’s oil. Although the home oil change might seem complex on your first try, do not feel discouraged: it is a fundamental part of DIY car maintenance and a simple way of eliminating unnecessary trips to the mechanic.
But if not for anything else, the DIY oil change is a sure way to connect with your car and take a front seat in its maintenance. Remember, any time you spend with your car (other than driving) is a great chance to understand its mechanics and spot issues that need your attention before they arise. That said, like all good things worth pursuing, vehicle maintenance takes time and practice to master, and the oil change is no exception. Here are five tips you should know before changing your car’s oil for the first time.
1.Have the Right Tools
Before embarking on your vehicle’s first oil change – or any other maintenance chore – ensure you have the necessary tools for the job. While it may seem a little too obvious, there is nothing more frustrating than disrupting an oil change halfway to look for a few missing pieces of equipment.
To avoid such inconveniences mid-oil change, ensure you have the following pieces of equipment beforehand:
- A wrench set
- The right engine oil for your vehicle
- Disposable rags
- The right oil filter
- Safety glasses
- A rubber mallet
- A container for the old oil
2.Purchase the Appropriate Engine Oil for Your Vehicle
Choosing the right engine oil should be a breeze if you own a new model vehicle. Simply refer to the owner’s manual or check for inscriptions regarding the weight of your vehicle’s oil around the engine oil cap. Regardless, only purchase the type of oil recommended by your automaker or special motor oil such as synthetic oil, depending on your needs.
Unlike conventional oil, synthetic oil can effectively resist breakdown and withstand high temperatures, making it last longer. You may wish to consider purchasing synthetic oil in favor of traditional oil if:
- You Make Frequent Short Trips
Unlike synthetic oil, regular motor oil cannot withstand temperatures high enough to burn off impurities, making it less effective at protecting your engine.
- Your Engine Builds up Sludge Easily
Some vehicle’s engines are prone to sludge buildup – a thick residue that results from oil breakdown. Sludge impedes the regular flow of oil in the engine, which could cause overheating and severe engine damage.
3.Purchase the Right Oil Filter
Getting the right type of oil filter should rank almost as high as buying the best type of oil for your vehicle’s maiden oil change. Although getting an economy oil filter might seem like the right thing to do, especially if you are on a tight budget, the limited longevity and lackluster performance are not worth the few dollars you save. Despite their relatively high upfront costs, top-quality oil filters are much more durable and a better fit for new vehicle owners who may not change their oil every 3000 miles.
4.Prepare Your Car
Ideally, your car’s engine and the old oil should be warm (but not hot) before you get started. Let the car’s engine run for a while, and then turn it off some minutes before the oil change so the exhaust system’s temperature drops just enough.
5.Tighten The Drain Plug
As mundane as it may sound, forgetting to return the drain plug or not tightening it enough can cause plenty of damage and render all your efforts useless. After draining the old oil, installing the new oil filter and adding the fresh oil, tighten the drain plug to prevent oil leaks and, possibly, engine failure.