Every year we hear about winter driving conditions and how cold weather affects a vehicle’s performance. But summer heat can also wreak havoc on a vehicle and its function. The warm weather, hot roads, extended trips, and dry air combine to create a hostile work environment for your car.
A hot engine needs all the lubrication it can get, so keeping on top of engine oil changes is especially important during the summer months. Though some people believe it’s necessary to use a thicker grade of oil for summer (and a thinner oil for winter), this isn’t really the case with modern motor oils. The most important thing is to change the oil at regular intervals and use the oil viscosity recommended in the owner’s manual for your car. With the extra miles many people put on their vehicles during summer road trips, this may mean more frequent changes.
You can change your oil yourself! Here’s how:
- Place an oil recovery pan (drain pan) underneath the engine. Let the car sit for 10 minutes to cool down before beginning.
- Open the hood of your vehicle and locate the oil cap on top of the engine. Remove the oil cap.
- Find the oil pan. Under your car, look for a flat metal pan closer to the engine than the transmission. Locate the drain plug. Verify that is the engine oil drain plug, not the transmission drain plug. If you are unsure which is which, look for the exhaust. The exhaust is always attached to engine, as is the tube that travels from the front of the vehicle to the back. The oil pan and drain plug will be located below the engine.
- Remove the oil plug. Loosen the plug counter-clockwise using the proper sized socket or a crescent wrench if you have room to maneuver.
- It will take several minutes for all the oil to drain out of the car. When the oil has ceasing running out of the crankcase, replace the plug.
- Locate the filter assembly. Filters are not put in a standard position, so they can be on the front, back or side of the engine depending on the model.
- Unscrew the oil filter. First, try by hand to get a good grip and twist slowly and steadily, counter-clockwise. Make sure the drain pan is underneath the filter before fully removing the filter, this will help prevent spillage.
- Prepare the new filter. Dip the tip of your finger in the new replacement oil and smear it on the gasket ring of the new filter.
- Carefully screw on the new, lubricated filter, being careful to not cross the threads.
- Back on the top of the engine, place a funnel in the hole where the oil cap was.
- Begin to pour oil into the funnel until you’ve added the correct amount specified by your particular vehicle’s owner’s manual.
- Replace the cap and hand-tighten.
*Be sure to properly dispose of your old oil at a locally designated collection site in your area.