Servicing your car can be a hassle and pricey endeavor, especially if your car is finicky or old and needs to be maintenanced often. To avoid costly service fees, it is always a good idea to carry around some parts, tools, and servicing necessities to save you from pulling your hair out. Of course, if you do find yourself with the means to get to a mechanic, come to Gulf Coast Alignments, a Top Rated Local®, same-day servicing shop specializing in alignments, brakes, oil changes, tune-ups, suspension, tire rotations and more! With over 25 years of experience, we have the knowledge and care that you look for when finding a mechanic you can trust. Call us today to book an appointment!  

Read the Owner’s Handbook

Before you begin servicing your own car, it is extremely important to read and reference your owner’s manual. You should be able to understand the most important parts of your car, how they function, and what they need should your dashboard illuminate any warning light having to relate to that specific part. Further, contacting your manufacturer to find out the necessary parts your car needs so you can make the appropriate replacements and repairs will save you huge amounts of money in the long-run. Before you begin, take a look at the warranty on your car. Some warranties don’t cover a self-service, so find out what you can and cannot do before getting started. Most importantly, confidence is always key, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, then it might be best to leave your car servicing to the experts. The opposite of what you want to do is make the problem worse.

Changing Your Oil

Having to get your oil changed is something that most people, for some reason, detest. It’s not the worst thing in the world to do and doesn’t take too long either. Oil changes do add up, however, despite how far-between they may seem. Reference the car manual to locate car parts, find out how much oil you need, and how often to change your oil before starting. 

  • First, and this may go without saying, park your car on a level surface and turn it off.
  • Crawl under the vehicle to locate the engine’s oil pan and the drain plug, which is a large nut or plug located under the oil pan at the bottom of the engine. 
  • Grab a large container and place it underneath and oil drain plug before you remove the drain plug so you can catch the oil. The oil may flow rapidly at first, but let it empty out for several minutes to ensure that all the oil is out. 
  • Once the oil pan is empty, inspect the pan and the drain plug, just to make sure you don’t need to buy a replacement. 
  • Reinstall the oil drain plug by tightening it with the correct box-end wrench. 
  • Locate the oil filter and remove it. The filter will also contain oil, so unscrew it over the container. Remove any remnants of the filter’s rubber seal or residue as well. 
  • Place a light coating of new oil on the gasket of the new oil filter (make sure it’s the correct oil filter) so it will install smoothly.
  • Using your hand, not a wrench, install the oil filter by rotating it clockwise. Tighten the filter by following the directions located on the new filter or the filter box. Commonly, tightening the filter consists of another three-quarter to one full turn once the filter has made contact with the engine. 
  • Crawl out from under the car and open the hood of your car. Locate and remove the oil fill cap and pour the correct amount of motor oil of the correct viscosity. If you need a funnel to complete this task, it is recommended, but if your hand is steady enough you can probably go without!
  • Using the oil dipstick, make sure the oil is at the correct level. It is always better to add a little at a time so you can avoid having to remove any, essentially starting this process again. 
  • Replace oil fill cap. 
  • Start the engine and let it run for about a minute. While it is running, check under the vehicle for leaks. If there are leaks, turn the engine off and have the leaks repaired. 

Congratulations! You’ve completed the process of changing your car’s oil. There’s nothing more rewarding than being able to say that you’ve worked on your car successfully. Maybe the next step is changing the spark plugs… or the air filter? But if that seems a little out of your skill-set, then call Gulf Coast Alignment for a variety of car services!