Good evening ladies and gentlemen, I would like to take a few moments of your time to explain one of the easier to perform preventative maintenance operations on your car. I listed a Jeep in the title of this blog, but most of the information is universal, and can be performed on most any vehicle.
First, you will want to get the vehicle up in the air somehow. It isn’t really necessary to get it up high, as long as you can fit comfortably underneath it. Please make sure to use jack stands and set the emergency brake, so the whole vehicle doesn’t come crashing down on you while you work.
Next you will want to have all of the tools you will need close at hand so you don’t have to climb in and out from under the vehicle unnecessarily. You will want box end wrenches, a oil filter wrench, (there are several kinds, I always use the ones with a metal band and a rubber covered handle), your filter, and an oil catch pan. The pan is another piece of equipment that can vary from a pan specifically designed for this job to an 8 quart container of any type, as long as the top is open enough to contain a possible splash.
Now that we have all of our tools ready to go, lets crawl under the car. First, loosen the oil drain plug. This should be fairly simple to find as it is usually pretty close to the center of the engine compartment on any “V” type engine. Even on front wheel drive models, the plug should still be pretty close to the center. Look for a large rectangular pan on the bottom of the motor, and this will tell you where the plug is. Make sure not to take the plug all the way out until you are ready with the drain pan, the oil will drain out quickly, and is usually pretty dirty. This is definitely not something you want in your hair. While the oil is draining into the pan, locate the filter. In the Jeep the filter is on the passenger side closer to the front of the engine.
The filter should not be really difficult to get off, as it is only supposed to be hand tight on installation, however the constant heating and cooling of the engine block can make it difficult at times. Slip the filter wrench over the filter, it should fit around it like a belt and turn the filter counter clockwise. As I said, it should not be too difficult to remove. Once the filter has been taken off the vehicle, check to see that the rubber gasket is still attached to the old filter. If you do not see it, look up where you just removed the filter from and check to see whether the gasket has gotten stuck on the engine block. This is a rare occurrence, but it does happen.
Now we are ready to reinstall the new filter. Take a small amount of the oil that is probably still draining from the vehicle and rub it on the gasket of the new filter. This will help ensure a good seal and keep the new filter from leaking. re install the new filter in the same location you removed the old filter from. Remember this is only supposed to be installed hand tight, so no tools are required for this step.
By this point the draining oil should have slowed to an occasional drip. you can now reinstall the oil plug, being careful not to cross-thread it upon installation. Cross-threading will destroy the plug, and could also damage the oil pan and cause leaks. A wrench should be used to tighten the plug, but it is not necessary to torque the plug down with a great deal of force.
The vehicle can now be lowered back to ground level. If ramps have been used to get the vehicle off the ground wait to move it at this point. Typically five quarts of oil is enough to fill both the oil pan and the filter. Once you have put the oil in the vehicle turn it on for 30 to 45 seconds. This allows the oil to be distributed throughout the engine and for the filter to get filled back up. Shut the vehicle back off and check the level of the oil on the dipstick. At this point the level should fall inside the crossed part of the lower portion of the dipstick. it is now safe to move the vehicle off of ramps.
While this seems like an easy process overall, very few people actually do their own preventative maintenance. Doing your own oil changes can save you hundreds of dollars a year depending upon your driving style.