Process Analysis: How to Change Your Oil

In order to keep your car running well, you must regularly change your oil and oil filter. This involves draining the old oil, changing the oil filter, replacing the oil with clean oil, and disposing of the old oil. The equipment required includes four to six liters of oil, a socket wrench, a funnel, an oil filter, a car jack, an oil catch-pan, and oil rags or paper towels.

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The first step in changing your oil is to place the car jack under the frame of the car and lift it up high enough for you to lie underneath. This allows you to have easy access to the oil pan. After the car is lifted to a comfortable height, turn the car on and idle it for two to three minutes in order to warm up the oil. Heating up the oil allows it to drain more quickly and ensures you stir up all of the loose sediment in the oil. Once your car is warmed up and turned off, remove the oil cap. The cap is located under the hood of your car on top of the engine. This is where you will add oil after you are done draining the old oil. Doing this will help the oil drain more easily because air can flow in as the lines empty. Once this step is completed, you will need to lie under your car and look for a flat metal pan close to the engine. It should have a bolt or plug toward the bottom.

This is the oil plug you will need to remove in order for the used oil to drain. Directly beneath the plug, place your pan with a couple of paper towels beneath that for catching the oil. Removing this plug can be tricky; the oil will come out of the pan as soon as you do this. You will begin by loosening the plug counter-clockwise with the proper sized socket wrench. Once you have loosened the plug with your wrench, remove it the rest of the way with your hand.

Make sure you have your oil catch-pan placed directly beneath the oil pan before you remove the plug. You must also be careful not to drop the plug into the used oil; it is a messy job trying to find the plug in the black stuff. Now you wait. It will take several minutes for all the oil to drain out of the engine. When the oil has ceased running out of the crankcase, replace the plug. Hand tighten it at first to make sure you are not cross-threading the oil plug when you screw it back in, and then tighten it the rest of the way with your wrench. While you are poking around underneath the car, take a minute to locate the oil filter. You will need to
replace this next.

This next step requires you to locate the filter assembly. Filters are not put in a standard position, so they can be on the front, on the back or on the side of engine depending on the model. Examine the replacement filter you purchased to get an idea of what to look for. Typically, they are white, blue, or black cylinders about five inches long and three inches wide, like a soup can. After you find the filter, unscrew it. Get a good grip with your hands and twist counter-clockwise at a slow and steady pace. Make sure the catch-pan is still under the car collecting the spilling oil; there will be some oil trapped in the filter that will be released when unscrewed. In order to prepare the new filter, dip the tip of your finger in the new replacement oil and smear it on the gasket ring of the new filter.

This will lubricate the gasket and create a good seal for the new filter and ensure that you will be able to remove the filter later. Carefully screw on the new, lubricated filter, being careful to not cross the threads. The filter will generally say how tight to tighten it, so refer back to the directions on the box for more specific instructions. In general, you will tighten the filter until the gasket touches, then one quarter-turn more. With all of the openings plugged, it is time to replace the oil that was removed.

Now, you will add the new oil to the car at the hole made by removing the oil cap. The quantity needed is in the car’s owner’s manual, usually listed under “capacities.” To prevent a spill on the engine, use the funnel to control the flow of the oil. When you have added the required amount of oil, replace the cap. To get the pressure up and ensure you have installed everything correctly, start the engine and run it for two minutes. This is also when you reset your oil change light. Voila, you have just changed your oil. Now that you have completed your task, it is time get the sludgy mess into a more permanent container. Adding the used oil to the new container you have just emptied or an empty milk jug is the best disposal technique.

Once your catch-pan is drained, make sure your oil filter is also empty. You can add this oil to your disposal container and then you may dispose of your old oil in a designated collection site. Typically, all places that sell motor oil will have this information on hand. Changing your own oil is significantly less expensive than having a professional do the work. Over time, your oil will break down again and your filter will become clogged with contaminants. Depending upon your driving habits and type of vehicle, this may take as few as three months or 3,000 miles, or be as long as 20,000 miles or twenty-four months. When this time comes, you now know how to solve the problem.

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