How to change the oil in a car

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Oil change sounds so easy: old oil out and new oil in. But in between there are a lot of actions and decisions to change the oil in a car that you will get to know: Should I drive to the workshop or do the oil change myself? Which oil is the right one? What do I do with the old oil? What does an oil change cost? 

Why does the oil have to be changed at all?

Oil takes over two important tasks in the engine: On the one hand it lubricates the engine so that it runs smoothly, on the other hand it cools the pistons, valves and cylinders. 

Motor oil contains additives, which improve its performance. For the oil to perform its tasks in the truest sense of the word smoothly, these additives must not be worn out. Otherwise there will be an accumulation of metal particles in the oil. This wear progresses unfortunately with every kilometer. As a result, the lubricating properties deteriorate, the heat is no longer redistributed and the valves wear out faster. This is why you have to change the oil in a car periodically.

Is there also engine oil that lasts for life?

Yes. This works because it contains additives that stop the aging process. But check with your car manufacturer in advance. Sometimes, the use of so-called Lifetime oils extinguishes the warranty.

How often should I have an oil change done?

It depends on the engine and how much you drive. The interval ranges, depending on the make, from 15,000 to 40,000 kilometers. Exact numbers are available in the user manual of your car. Those who drive on average a lot, so 10,000 to 15,000 kilometers per year, about every 1.5 to 2 years before they need to change the oil in a car.

And: The additives wear out even when the engine is only slightly moved. In some on-board computers, there is the function “life of the engine oil”. It shows in percent how much the oil is already worn out.

How do I know that my engine needs new oil?

A small red oil can is one of the most important  warning lights in the car . It shows you when the oil needs to be replaced. But do not wait so long, but take the change intervals, which are in the manual of the automaker. Many garages also stick a note in the car (for example, on the inside of the driver’s door), at what mileage the next oil change is pending. Basically, if you travel often or almost exclusively in city traffic, you should often go to the oil change, because the engine is more heavily used.

Is it true that a new car needs to change oil after 1,000 kilometers?

It used to be like that. That was because the engines were not built as accurately as they are today. There were even special oils for new cars. But be sure to check this topic for safety in the manual for your car. Which is still true, by the way: Cars should not drive the first 1000 kilometers over large distances at full throttle, but carefully be introduced to the maximum load.

How does the professional oil change with oil filter change in the workshop?

An oil change is easy: your car is placed on the lift and a container under the car. Then the oil drain plug is opened: The oil runs into the container, after which it is disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. The professionals change on this occasion usually also the sealing rings and the oil filter. The fresh engine oil is refilled, reset the oil change interval display, done!

The best way to change the oil, if you have the car on the way to the workshop warmed up: Then the oil is thinner and flows faster and more complete. Due to the faster oil flow, the residues from the pipes are also better removed.

Overall, this process takes about 30 minutes. Tip:  On this occasion, also check if  you should change the  brake pads . Possibly, the professional recommends that you also change the  brake discs .

How much does an oil change cost?

The change costs between 40 euros for free providers and 150 euros in the workshop – including a new oil filter. Some garages use so-called premium oils, which are 2 or even 3 times as expensive as normal engine oils. But that is not necessary, because the low-priced lubricants have also performed well or very well in various tests and can be used without hesitation. You can also buy the engine oil cheap and then bring it to the workshop.

Why does engine oil turn black over time?

It not only gets darker with age, but also tougher. This is due to deposits and contamination, and the density of the additives is reduced. In short, the quality of the oil decreases. Both lubrication and cooling no longer work properly. This can lead to damage to the wear parts and in the engine. In addition, the fuel consumption increases.

New oil is amber. Do the color check with the dipstick. Drive about 10 kilometers, then park the car on a level surface, wait about 2 minutes to collect the oil in the oil sump, then check. By the way: not only too little oil can damage the engine, but also too much!

Car World - fresh and used oil

Oil change – Can I do it myself?

You need this for an oil change:

  • screwdriver
  • Pit or ramp
  • Oil pan
  • new engine oil (5 liters from 15 euros)
  • possibly sealing ring (about 1 Euro)
  • possibly oil filter (about 10 Euro)

Tip:  Always have the oil changed within the warranty period of your car in a workshop according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Otherwise the guarantee expires.

How to change the oil:

  • Warm up the vehicle
  • drive with the front wheels over a pit or on a ramp
  • Put the oil pan under the car
  • Unscrew oil cover in engine compartment
  • Open the oil drain plug and drain the warm oil
  • Unscrew the oil filter and grease the sealing surface underneath with a cloth and a little brake cleaner
  • Grease oil filter at the contact surfaces and screw on
  • Turn off the oil drain plug (possibly with a new sealing ring)
  • Add new oil and let the engine run for about 5 minutes, then wait for 2 minutes
  • Check oil level

What do the letters and numbers on the oil can mean?

Specifications such as 10W-40 or 25W-60 are the so-called SAE classes (Society of Automotive Engineers). The number before the W gives information about the flow rate of the oil in cold weather. The smaller the number, the smoother. Behind it is the flow rate at 100 ° C. The lower the numbers, the higher the quality of the oil, because it is more fluid and thus better distributed in the engine. This is referred to as so-called low-viscosity oils.

 Engine oils may also be mixed, but only diesel oil with diesel oil or oil for a gasoline engine with oil for a gasoline engine. Many dealers offer additives for the engine oil. However, these are very controversial and lead to void the warranty for most vehicle manufacturers.