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When you become a single mom, all these new jobs suddenly fall in your lap. Car maintenance, lawn care, fixing broken things, putting stuff together, taking out the trash. The realization that all this stuff is now yours to deal with is completely overwhelming!
The last time my car needed an oil change, my wonderful Father-In-Law noticed it, and changed it for me. But, suddenly 7 months went by… and warning lights began to flash… and then beep.
I was intimidated- changing the oil seemed like a big deal. And, truthfully, after I destroyed my lawn mower I didn’t have much confidence in myself!
But, the financial advantage of changing my own oil, plus the thought of waiting in a dirty auto shop with 6 children eventually swayed me. Plus, my dad agreed to teach me and make sure I didn’t break my car!
And I did it! It wasn’t difficult at all, and better yet, I’ll be able to change the oil all by myself from this point on!
Trust me, deep breath… you can do it too!
Just think about the satisfaction of saying you did it- you changed your own oil- plus saved money! That’s a single mom win right there!
The Single Mom’s Guide to a DIY Oil Change
Next, go shopping. I find Walmart a great place to buy everything I need to change my oil, since I’m already there shopping for groceries. It means no extra trip to another store on errand day. I chose Pennzoil Platinum full synthetic motor oil because this high-quality oil is specially designed to give my engine complete protection.
- oil (choose the weight/grade listed in your car’s manual, and buy as many quarts as the manual specifies)
- oil filter
If this is your first oil change you’re going to need a few tools and accessories that you will use every time you change oil:
- drain pan or something to catch the old oil in
- socket wrench
- filter wrench
- Jack or ramp (optional)
Using a socket wrench, loosen the oil pan drain bolt. If you don’t know where the bolt is, check your car’s manual. *Tip- use a socket wrench with a long handle. A longer handle will give you more power to loosen a tight bolt.
After turning several times with the socket wrench, you’ll be able to put the tool down, and finish unscrewing the bolt with your hand. Remove the bolt and place it on the edge of the drain pan.
The oil is going to come out with some force, so have the drain pan at a slight angle to the opening. Back up, it’s going to splash! As the flow slows down, you can center the pan to catch the last drips.
Next, change the oil filter. You will need a new filter and a filter wrench that fits your filter. You either buy the black tool pictured below in the same size as your filter, or you can use an adjustable filter wrench tool (Like the metal one, I ended up using, since my black one was too small)
Place the oil pan under the filter. Use the filter wrench to loosen the filter, then finish unscrewing it by hand. Place the used filter upside down (so the oil can drain out) in the drain pan. Just warning you, this is going to be pretty messy so get ready!
Rub a little of the old oil onto the oil filter gasket of the new filter. (This helps it supple up to create a good seal.) When the oil stops dripping from the car, put the new filter on the car. This new filter can be hand tightened. You don’t have to use the filter wrench tool to put it on.
Now clean up. Put everything away and dispose of the used oil properly. I used the oil funnel to put the used oil into the now-empty oil container. Most auto stores or shops will allow you to drop that used oil off to be disposed of correctly. I have to admit, that my car was so far past a needed oil change I only had 4 quarts to dispose of, even though I put 6.5 quarts into the car! But now that I know changing my own oil is no big deal, I’ll be changing it when I’m supposed to from now on!
Still nervous? Here are some more tips for a DIY oil change.
You’ll find even more tips and tricks for a DIY oil change here. Do you change your own oil?
Please use standard safety procedures when changing your oil. You should always refer to your own car’s manual before changing your oil.