For Moms

DIY Car maintenance: How to do an oil change at home?

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DotComDIY #CollectiveBias

Hi there! I’m Willy, Eileen’s husband, and I’m taking over The Autism Cafe today. I’m a car enthusiast and I’ll be writing here occasionally on topics sometimes related to autism, and sometimes related to cars. Today, I’m going to talk to you about things that are important to me that I teach our two boys, Charlie and Jude. 

What I want to teach my children

Among other things, I want to teach them ways they can save money, save time, and become more self-reliant. These are lifelong goals I’m working on myself, and skills I work to improve on an ongoing basis.

There’s actually one thing relatively new in my life that allows me to put into practice all three of these skills (saving time, saving money, and being more self-reliant), and that thing is learning basic car maintenance. For example, doing an oil change is something you can easily do at home, and I’m going to show how simple it is by going over the steps here. 

oil change

How to do an oil change at home?

I – Choose your oil.

I chose Pennzoil because Pennzoil Platinum® High Mileage Full Synthetic satisfies our car’s requirements for oil, and exceeds the industry standards by up to 20% at keeping pistons clean. Beyond that, Pennzoil helps clean out sludge that lesser oils leave behind. 

Everything I’ve read says that synthetic oils really are a smarter choice than conventional oils, and when vehicles reach 75,000 miles it’s time to make a switch to high mileage oils. Our car is at almost twice that mileage so I don’t mess around with just any oil.

This oil has something Pennzoil calls PurePlus® Technology that uses a process that converts natural gas into pure synthetic base oil, which is proven to deliver less oil burn off than conventional motor oils made from crude oil. Sounds good enough for our old car!



II – Order your supplies

I’m all about saving time, so I ordered Pennzoil from Walmart and they had some seriously budget-friendly options for Pennzoil oils. The ordering process was easy and intuitive, and all I had to do was order online and pick it up at the store. I could have even had it quickly shipped to the house if I wanted. Make sure, though, that you’ve checked your car’s owner’s manual in advance so you get the proper “weight” (e.g. 5w-20, 10w-30) oil for your car.

You’ll also need:

  • a new oil filter (google the correct size for your car)
  • a new oil drain plug (ordered online or bought at a dealer, though many people skip this step)
  • a ramp (or a jack and jack stands) to elevate the front of the car
  • wheel chocks to prevent the car from rolling
  • a funnel for adding new oil
  • a wide-mouth container for the old oil to pour out into 
  • safety goggles and rubber gloves
  • a wrench/socket for removing the oil drain plug

You can get most of these at Walmart.

III – The basic steps of an oil change

1. Lift the car off the ground.

  • Use a jack and jack stands or a ramp to get the front end of the car off the ground, using wheel chocks on the rear wheels to prevent them from rolling.
  • Let the car cool off for an hour if you were just driving it for a while.

2. Remove the old oil and filter.

  • Open the hood and open the oil cap under the hood to allow ventilation.
  • Place a wide container under your oil drain plug, open it, and let the oil flow out into it.
  • Unscrew your oil filter, making sure the container is underneath to catch the oil that comes out. Discard the filter.
  • Let the oil drain completely out of those two places. 


3. Add the new oil and filter.

  • Coat the rim of your new oil filter in a bit of new oil and hand-tighten it firmly, but not as tight as you can.
  • Install your new drain plug to the tightness your manufacturer specifies.
  • Check your manual to find your car’s oil capacity.
  • Using a funnel, gently pour about 1 quart less than your car’s capacity of new Pennzoil oil into where the oil cap once was under the hood.

OIL 5 of 6

4. Lower your car and finish up.

  • Replace the oil cap, remove the wheel chocks, and lower your car off the jacks or drive it off the ramps. Turn the engine off.
  • Remove the oil cap again and check the oil level by wiping clean your car’s dipstick, reinserting it, and reading the level.
  • Keep in mind that it may take the dipstick 30 seconds to register new oil added.
  • Keep adding oil, little by little, cleaning and checking the dipstick each time until the oil level reading is halfway between MIN and MAX. Don’t overfill or underfill.
  • Replace dipstick and oil cap, and remember to recheck your oil level after you’ve driven the car a little, and regularly after that.

Bring the old oil to your nearest auto parts store so they can recycle it for free! 


That’s it. Basic car maintenance is a lot easier than it seems. I can’t wait to teach Charlie and Jude how to do it because I always feel a sense of accomplishment after finishing an oil change, and I like to know that it was done right.

Even better, Walmart makes DIY oil changes even easier. Their ordering process is convenient, and you can do delivery, and in-store or curbside pickup. 


If you’re thinking about doing your first at-home oil change, now is a good time. There’s a special offer. If you purchase any two qualifying Pennzoil products at Walmart and upload your receipt you can get $10 Ticketmaster Ticket Cash. Additionally, everyone who uploads their receipts is entered to win tickets to a Guns N’ Roses concert as part of their “Not In This Lifetime” tour!

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  • Reply
    2017-09-27 at 2:33 PM

    I have the same diagnosis as Eileen and I have a blog. However, I’ve been sloppy with it since last fall. I’m an online citizen journalist, do other volunteering and work 15 hours a week at a food court.

  • Reply
    David @ Spiced
    2017-09-27 at 3:42 PM

    Ok, you’ve inspired me! All of my friends change their own oil at home, so I’m going to give it a shot next time one of our cars is ready for an oil change. And great tip about ordering from to save time! #client

  • Reply
    Kyle Ramirez
    2017-10-16 at 11:05 AM

    I think one of the most momentous aftercare errands for vehicles is changing the oil routinely. It is one of such maintenance task that one can do to keep his car running well for a longer period of time. The actual fact is like other parts or fluids, a car engine oil loses its serviceability over a certain period of time by getting contaminated with dirt and antigen. Though one can change his car engine oil by taking the help of a professional, still I think it will be more advantageous if he learns how to do the same task on his own at home, so that he can not save his wallet but also stretch out the lifespan of his vehicle by thousands of miles.

  • Reply
    2017-11-01 at 11:08 PM

    Thanks for this. I never knew how important oil change is.

  • Reply
    Francisco Arezio
    2017-11-13 at 8:05 AM

    When its time for maintaining your vehicle, you need to change the oil fist as it is the primary step to keep your car in working condition. It is better to change it at home is economical. Before replacing oil you must be aware about its changing procedure otherwise this could lead breakdown of the car’s engine. Lifting the car off the ground, open the oil cap under the hood to allow ventilation. Discard the filter to drain out all the old oil. Then fill the engine oil with adequate oil and replace the old oil filter with a new one to prevent any debris getting into the engine. This makes your car’s engine free from clogging. You also take help of a car expert to change oil.

  • Reply
    Zelda Robert
    2018-01-01 at 7:22 AM

    To have your car up to snuff condition being a car owner you should do its basic maintenance. For keeping your car running smoothly oil is playing a major role as it prevents any frictional error arises in rotating parts of the engine. Following owner’s manual you may get some idea about changing of oil yourself. Drain out old oil and oil filter keeps your vehicle’s engine free from risk of getting clogged. It is preferable take help of a car professional who is able to change oil and other parts such as oil filter and air filter to get better performance obtained by the engine.

  • Reply
    Jeremy Thompson
    2018-01-23 at 12:58 AM

    I never knew that there were so much to think about when it comes to an oil change. The quality of oil can differ from that holds the ability Pennzoil to clean our sludge to synthetic oils that are better than conventional oils as your article suggests. That is something I would do my best in learning more. While I do that, I’ll be sure to have my car oil changed at the nearest auto service so I can learn their opinions too. Thanks!

  • Reply
    George Oberon
    2018-02-13 at 12:00 PM

    When its time for maintaining your vehicle, you need to change the oil fast, as it is the first step to keep your car in good condition, also all components works optimally. Want to save your money then better change it at home. Before replacing oil you must be concern about its changing process otherwise this could create a breakdown of the car’s engine. Lifting the car off the ground, open the oil cap under the hood to allow ventilation. Discard the filter to drain out all the old oil. Then fill the engine oil with adequate oil and replace the old oil filter with a new one to prevent any debris getting into the engine. This makes your car’s engine free from clogging. You also take help of auto expert to change oil .

  • Reply
    Norman Kerman
    2018-02-17 at 10:27 AM

    Oil helps car’s engine in various way. It keep the engine and all its parts lubricated so the car can run smoothly. But an oil change is really necessary for cars the suggested steps for an oil change are use jack stand and lift the car up the ground, let your get cooled, open the hood and remove all old oil from it, and the new oil filter lower your car finish the oil change process. This is the basic tips you can follow while changing car’s oil .

  • Reply
    Sean layman
    2018-03-15 at 9:19 AM

    I like the DIY oil change tips given in this article. Motor oil plays very important role in the vehicle. It lubricates the components of the engine and also absorbs certain amount of heat generated by the engine. By doing so, it provides suitable friction less surrounding for the engine components and also helps in reducing the temperature of the engine. However, certain people underestimates the importance of oil change at a regular interval according to owner’s manual. Without proper oil change, the performance of the engine could be affected, even could results the engine failure. So, either we should change the motor oil with the help of DIY tips given in this article or we could ask professionals to do so.

  • Reply
    William Slater
    2018-06-23 at 12:42 PM

    The engine oil must be changed at regular intervals to keep the functionality of the vehicle’s nucleus in the peak shape. This is perhaps the simplest maintenance task that one can do to extend the life expectancy of his roadster. But what happens is that some car parents skip this oil change assignment completely and some other take it as a task of a car-geek. The second one might be correct for an unskilled car owner, but the first one is nothing other than the sign of an irresponsibility. I know the entire process may seem intimidating for the person who is changing the oil for the first time. But truth me, it’s a very straightforward job. I think everyone can do on their own with a little technical knowledge. Thus, grasp the above tactics and follow the owner’s manual, by which you can save money, and keep your vehicle in the peerless condition by performing an oil change on your own. Anytime you face difficulty, you need to consult a technician promptly without any hesitation.

  • Reply
    Sara Elliott
    2018-10-10 at 1:09 PM

    An article worth reading. Everyone should learn some of basic car maintenance tricks which is really essential to keep the car in working order. Engine oil replacement is one of important part of basic maintenance. Engine oil lubricated various components of the engine and by doing so it provides a friction-less surrounding to different components of the engine. However, burned engine oil couldn’t do so and should be replaced with suitable substitutes.

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