How to Change Your Oil in Under 30 Minutes

Time Required: 20-30 minutes

What You Will Need:

  • Oil
  • An oil filter
  • A filter wrench (optional if you have a filter with a built-in grip coating)
  • A socket and ratchet
  • A funnel
  • An oil catch pan
  • Shop rags

Note: Consult your owner's manual for recommended oil type and capacity.

Lift Your Vehicle

car lifted with ramps
Lift your vehicle with ramps or a floor jack and jack stands. Erin Huffstetler

Locate a level, paved area; and raise the vehicle by driving up onto ramps or by using a floor jack and jack stands.

Chock the Rear Wheels

vehicle's wheel secured with chock
Secure your vehicle with chocks and set the parking brake. Erin Huffstetler

Set the parking brake, and chock the rear wheels to prevent roll back.

Drain the Old Oil

person removing drain plug to change car's oil
Remove the drain plug, and drain the oil. Erin Huffstetler

Locate the oil drain plug at the bottom of the oil pan, and place a catch pan underneath it. Then, remove the drain plug, allowing the oil to drain from the engine. After the oil has completely drained, replace the drain plug – being careful not to over tighten.

Remove the Old Oil Filter

oil filter in car
Find and remove the old oil filter. Erin Huffstetler

Find the oil filter, and position the catch pan underneath it. Then, remove the filter, taking care not to spill the oil that remains inside. If your oil filter does not have a built-in grip coating on the outside of the canister, you'll need to use a filter wrench to complete this step.

Lubricate the New Oil Filter

new oil filter lubricated
Lubricate the new oil filter to ensure smooth installation. Erin Huffstetler

Lubricate the gasket on the new oil filter with a small amount of new oil. This will ensure that the filter twists on smoothly, and that the gasket does not break off during installation.

Prefill and Install the New Oil Filter

filling car oil filter
Prefill the new oil filter half way with fresh oil. Erin Huffstetler

Prefill the new oil filter half way with fresh oil to ensure that your engine has oil for the first start up.

Then, carefully screw the new filter into place. Tighten by hand until the gasket contacts the base; then turn, one additional turn.

Note: Over or undertightening can result in leaks.

Refill the Engine with Oil

person refilling engine with oil
Remove the oil cap, and refill the engine with oil. Erin Huffstetler

Open the hood of the car, and remove the oil cap. Then, insert your funnel and refill the engine with oil. To avoid overfilling, hold back the last half quart of oil – a certain amount of old oil will remain in your engine even after it has been drained.

Replace your oil cap.

Check Your Oil Level

checking oil level with dip stick
Check your oil level. Erin Huffstetler

Start your engine and allow it to run for one minute to circulate the oil. Then, turn off, and wait an additional three minutes for the oil to return to the oil pan.

Remove and inspect the dipstick. Add a small amount of oil if the dipstick reads low. Then, recheck. Repeat until you reach the right level.

Note: Be sure to put your oil cap back on, if you had to add oil.