A basic oil change involves draining the existing oil, replacing the oil filter, sealing the drain plug and adding new oil. Vehicle owners may perform this task themselves or rely on automotive professionals, who often perform the same process for a small fee and may also include a free vehicle inspection or offer other services as part of their a package. The process may vary slightly between vehicles.
Most vehicles have a single drain plug that requires only a simple wrench to remove. Vehicle owners or mechanics should capture all used oil in a bucket or similar container for recycling as it drains from the engine. The oil filter becomes clogged with residue from regular operation over time, making it essential to use a new filter after changing the oil to prevent this residue from fouling the new lubricant in the system.
After replacing the oil filter, the owner or mechanic should replace the drain plug, and its accompanying washer on some vehicles, and then refill the system. Some vehicle models require changing of the washer every time to ensure a snug fit and prevent leaks, others may only require replacement of the plug or nut that secures the drain. Adding oil to bring the amount in the vehicle back up to the full line on the dipstick completes the oil change.