1. Park your car on a flat, even, hard surface and run the engine for about five minutes. You’ll want the engine to be warmed up but not hot, so the oil flows out easily but doesn’t burn you.
2. Locate the oil plug. For most cars, a sturdy jack will make this job much more pleasant. Raise the car and look for the plug, usually toward the rear of where the engine is located. Consult your owner’s manual and double check that you’ve got the right plug before moving forward with the task at hand.
3. Drain the plug. Place the drain pan beneath the plug. With your wrench, turn the plug counterclockwise to loosen the plug. Once the plug comes off, the oil will begin to drain—sometimes quickly. You’ll probably drop the plug in your oil pan but that’s part of the fun. Take extra care as the oil can be hot.
4. Replace the drain plug and be careful not to overtighten. If your plug is looking flat or worn out, replace it.
5. Remove the old oil filter—it looks almost like a can of soda and usually bears the car’s make. Secure the grip and turn counter clockwise. It might be sticky, but give it a good twist and make sure when you remove it that the gasket comes along for the ride. There will likely be oil in the filter. Carefully empty the contents into the oil pan.
6. With a rag, wipe the area where the filter was on your engine. There’s usually a bit of sludge that collects here and you’ll want the area clean to install the new filter.
7. Take your new filter in one hand and dip your index finger in new oil with the other hand. Apply a light layer of new oil to the new gasket with your finger. The fresh oil helps create a seal for the filter.
8. Line up the threads and turn the new filter about 3/4 of a turn so it secures into place. It doesn’t take much pressure and you can do this one by hand.
9. Now add oil in the hole marked for oil. Might seem like a no-brainer, but consult your owner’s manual if you’re unsure. For quantity and type of oil, check your owner’s manual.
10. Screw on the oil cap, drop the hood and wipe off your filthy hands before you hop in the car.
11. Start your engine. Your oil light should turn off immediately. If it stays on, switch off the ignition and check that the filter and drain plug are snug.
12. After running the engine for a few minutes, shut her down and check the your oil levels to make sure there are no leaks. Pop the hood and pull out the dipstick. Wipe it clean, pop it back in, pull it out, wipe it clean (quite the routine) and check that the level is at FULL.
13. Make sure to dispose of used oil responsibly. Transfer the dirty oil from your drain pan into a leakproof container and take it to your local auto shop or gas station for safe disposal or recycling. While you’re there, don’t forget to proudly tell them you changed your oil yourself.