How to Change the Engine Oil

How to Change the Engine Oil

Updated on April 19 2024

Periodically changing the engine oil is a must if you own a car. You can think of the oil as the lifeblood of your car’s engine. The oil not only lubricates moving parts inside the motor but also cleans and rids the engine of dirt, sludge, and other impurities caused by combusting air and fuel inside the cylinders.

What’s more, oil cools the engine and lowers the operating temperature to maintain peak efficiency. Without engine oil, the engine will seize and die in a matter of seconds due to excess friction and heat.

However, dirty oil will have the same effect. Constantly running an engine with dirty or worn-out engine oil will result in poor fuel economy, excess friction, early breakdowns, and significant wear and tear. In the long run, expensive engine damage will result if you don’t adhere to the recommended oil change intervals.

When to replace the engine oil

We highly recommend changing the engine oil every 5,000 to 8,000 kilometers. It also depends on the type of vehicle. The golden rule is to check the owner’s manual. Cars that run on fully synthetic oil can operate for 10,000 to 12,000 kilometers before requiring an oil change. On the other hand, diesel vehicles require more frequent oil changes depending on usage severity.

What type of oil to use?

Modern vehicles require full synthetic motor oil, while older cars will fare better on semi-synthetic oil formulas. On the other hand, vintage cars will typically need mineral-based engine oils.

Besides choosing the type of oil, the vital thing to remember is the viscosity rating. If the owner’s manual indicates your vehicle needs 5W-40 synthetic oil, follow it. Using a different viscosity may affect how the engine operates in extreme hot or cold weather. It may also lead to hard starting, excessive engine noise, and poor fuel economy.

How many liters of oil will I need for my vehicle?

It depends on the type of vehicle and the engine size. Smaller cars and subcompacts like the Toyota Vios and Mitsubishi Mirage will only need three to four liters of engine oil. Large SUVs or  pickup trucks with bigger engines will typically need six to eight liters of oil.

How to Change the Engine Oil

Materials needed:

A. Fresh engine oil

B. Oil drain pan

C. 10mm or 12mm wrench

D. Jack and jack stands (optional).

Step 1: Start the engine and let it warm up before changing the oil.

Allow the engine to idle for 10 minutes or drive the vehicle around the block for 15 minutes before changing the oil. Warmer oil is easier to drain and ensures most of the dirty oil will evacuate the engine upon draining.

Step 2: Turn off the engine and park the vehicle.

After warming the car for 15 minutes or so, turn off the engine, park the vehicle, and engage the parking brake.

Step 3: Prepare to drain the oil.

It’s easier to change the oil if you have access to a lift. But if not, you can use a jack and jack stands to elevate the vehicle off the ground slightly, allowing for easier access to the drain plug underneath the engine.

Step 4: Loosen the drain plug using a wrench.

Locate the oil drain plug and loosen it by turning the drain plug counterclockwise using a wrench. Carefully loosen the drain plug by hand and make sure the drain pan is there to catch the oil.

Step 5: Allow the oil to drain and remove the old oil filter.

Allow the oil to drain for at least 10 minutes. While doing this, pull out the engine oil dipstick, wipe the end clean with a rag, and set it aside.

Meanwhile, remove the old oil filter from under the engine using an old bicycle chain or an oil filter tool. Set the drain pan under the oil filter as you remove it since more oil will drain from the oil filter hole.

Step 6: Replace the oil drain plug and install the new oil filter.

The next critical step is to replace the oil drain plug BEFORE adding oil. Insert the drain plug in the hole and carefully tighten it by hand before securing it with a wrench. Do not overtighten the drain plug.

Next, install the old oil filter. Put a small amount of fresh oil in the new filter, making sure to line the rubber gasket with fresh oil before installing. Tighten the oil filter by hand, but do not overtighten.

Step 7: Fill the engine with oil.

Remove the oil cap from the engine and fill it with fresh oil. Take care not to overfill as excess engine oil will cause combustion problems.

Step 8: Reinsert the dipstick to double-check the oil level.

Insert the engine oil dipstick to check the oil level. Insert it fully and pull it out again to confirm. The oil level should be between the H and C markings at the end of the dipstick. If not, add more oil, taking care not to overfill.

Step 9: Replace the oil filler cap.

If the oil level is good, replace the oil filler cap, and you’re good to go!


Keep in mind that periodic oil changes are necessary to keep your car’s engine in tip-top shape. Regularly changing the oil not only protects your engine from heat and friction, but it ensures better fuel economy, fewer emissions, and more savings in the long run.