Change your oil to AMSOIL Synthetic Oil

I've had some request for a brief outline of how to change your own oil. Some folks don't like messing with this, but if you use AMSOIL products you can limit the oil changes to once or twice a year. You'll also have better oil, better filters, and be able to enjoy the other benefits AMSOIL offers. It will also save money. Click on the "save money" link at the left to see the math. This generic explanation applies to most normal cars, from a 1970 Datsun 240 z, to a 2009 Hemi Challenger, to a 2000 Neon, or 2007 Ford Edge. The point is, most cars are pretty much the same on this basic task. Some exceptions; BMW does not use spin-on filters; use a filter element that's not a spin on. Pictures lower on this page.

1.   First, find out what oil your vehicle requires and how much you need. You can look this up in your owners manual or online here; online Product Application Guide.

a.     Buy the oil and have it handy. Preferably, AMSOIL from this site.

b.    Buy the filter and have it handy. Preferably AMSOIL filter from this site.

2.     Get some latex gloves, like doctor gloves. Itís much easier than cleaning up afterwards.

3.     Youíll need something to drain the oil into.

a.     Old pan, kettle, or any container. Youíll transfer the oil when finished, but you need some low profile container to fit under the auto.

b.    I like the Blitz USA - Oil Recovery Pan from OíReilly Auto Parts. Here is a picture.

It has a built in funnel to transfer the used oil to jugs.

4.     Wrench

a.     Youíll need a wrench to fit the oil drain plug. This can be an open end, box end, socket, or adjustable wrench to remove the drain plug.

5.     Oil Filter wrench

a.     Youíll likely need an oil filter wrench to fit your filter, if itís on tight. I donít tighten mine too extreme, and can usually remove mine by hand.

6.     Paper towels

7.     Coveralls, or ďworkĒ clothes as youíll have to crawl on the floor. A hat or cap also helps keep your hair out of your eyes.

8.     Cardboard; I like to put a flattened cardboard box on the floor under the work area.

9.     Now, to actually change the oil.

a.     Take your car for a short drive to warm the oil. You donít want it HOT, just warm so the oil is thin, so it will drain more completely from the engine block. Drive the vehicle far enough and long enough so that the temperature gauge begins to register.

b.    Turn off the engine, put the car in gear, and set the parking brake firmly. For safety, block the tires with several bricks or large rocks, or a big book. Put on your dirty clothes and cap. Come out and line up your tools.

c.     Now slide under the car and locate the oil drain plug. If there isn't enough room to slide under, you may have to jack up the car to get beneath it. Raise the car with a hydraulic pump and settle it on jackstands. CAUTION: Never get under a car held aloft only by a jack. Always use jackstands.

d.    Now locate the drain plug. It should be about the closest thing to the ground, a fairly large nut with a slim washer under it. Sometimes it will even be labeled "drain plug." (Caution: Make sure you're not looking at the transmission drain plug. It's usually a larger nut. If not sure, feel the metal around it. The metal around the engine oil plug should be a lot hotter than around the trans plug. If still not sure, call a friend.) Find your socket set and pull out several sockets that look about the same size as the nut until you find one that fits over it.

e.     If you have them, put on your surgical gloves to keep your hands clean. Grab the socket wrench and put the correct-sized socket on it. Place it over the nut and turn it counter-clockwise. It won't budge? Try again -- really put some force into it this time. If it still won't dislodge after several tries, locate the same sized closed-end wrench and use that instead. After you get the nut cracked, work it slightly loose with your fingers. Not too loose, though -- you don't want oil all over the place.

f.     Now take the newspaper or cardboard and spread it under the car. Make sure to cover where the oil filter sticks out, because it drips after removal. Look up into the engine. See the oil filter? It looks like a miniature, upside-down version of the mountain from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Get the drain pan (or kitchen basin, or kid's pail) and slide it under the drain plug. Position it so the stream hits it just right (if the plug points to the side and not straight down, the oil will shoot out sideways like from a fire hydrant). Loosen and remove the drain plug and set it aside. Be careful; the oil may be HOT. If you drove too far, and the oil is HOT, wait until itís just WARM. Most of the oil will drain in about two minutes.

g.    Locate the oil filter wrench. Take the socket off the socket wrench and set it next to the drain plug. Slip the oil filter wrench onto the socket wrench. You'll probably want to use the short extension, too. The oil filter wrench is like a round dog collar that only chokes in one direction. Set it up to "grab" or "choke" counterclockwise. Slip it over the oil filter and give it a tug. It shouldn't be that tight. When you feel it give, loosen it a little more, then slide the wrench off and do the rest by hand. Careful -- it has hot oil in it! Make sure your face is not under it. Remove it all the way and pour the contents into the drain pan. Set the used oil filter right-side-up on the newspaper.

h.     Slide out, open the hood (if you haven't already) and remove the oil filler cap. Set it aside. This will help the oil drain a little easier. O.K., take a breather.

Now, here's the deal. If you're in a hurry, you can dive right in and finish the oil change. But think about it. Drops of dirty oil are still dripping down. Personally, we like to give it a good hour to drain completely. They don't do that in the quick-lube places. If you have the time, peel off your gloves and take a break. Pull the keys, and disconnect the battery if you like so nobody can jump in and take off while youíre inside.

i.      When you get back, put your gloves on and get to work. Before you thread the new oil filter in place, dip a finger into the drain pan and coat the rubber gasket on the bottom of the filter with oil, and set it aside. This will help it seat better against the engine block. With a clean rag, wipe off the round metal circle on the engine where the oil filter fits, then thread the new filter onto the post. When it's finger-tight, either tighten it by hand if you're strong enough (it takes about one-half to three-quarters of a turn, no more: read the instructions on the filter), or flip the oil filter wrench over on the socket wrench and tighten it that way.

j.      Reinstall the drain plug. Make sure it is very snug, but donít strip it out. Now take the oil drain pan and the empty milk jug (I like the 1 gallon jugs) and the funnel. If you have a friend, have him hold the bottle while you pour the oil into it. When most of the oil has found the bottom of the bottle, seal it with the lid, then wipe out the inside of the funnel with a clean rag. I seal the milk jug lids with packing tape, and put the jug in a plastic grocery bag to make sure it doesnít drip in my trunk. Of course, it sits in a cardboard box in the trunk also. You can take this oil to OíReillyís or some auto parts store; they take it for recycling. Do NOT improperly dispose of oil; the fines are HUGE.

k.     Set the cleaned funnel into the oil filler hole and pour in as many quarts as the manufacturer recommends. As the oil fills, begin cleaning up. Throw the newspapers in the trash and wipe down all your tools. Discard the empty oil containers in a recycling bin. After the oil is all in, twist the oil cap back on and check the dipstick for oil level, just to make sure. Take the old oil filter, place it in the Ziploc bag, and seal it.

l.      Start the engine and let it idle for about five minutes, looking for leaks. During this time, the engine is pumping oil through the new (empty) filter, so you want to check the oil after this first 5 minute run.

m.   Place the milk container and the Ziploc bag in a box, and set it somewhere in the car where it can't tip over. Drive to the nearest oil recycling center like OíReillyís.  Take a last look underneath for leaks.

With these few steps, using AMSOIL synthetic oils, you can save money, and only perform 1 or 2 oil changes per year. After the first few oil changes, you'll be able to perform this in about 30 minutes, without getting any oil spilled anywhere.

Here is what a BMW oil filter looks like. You can see it's not in a "spin off" arrangement, it fits in a cannister, and has a screw on cap that holds it in. These filters are much cheaper from AMSOIL than from BMW, and they are the same (Mann) or better filters. I'll give you an example;

Mann filter for 325i from AMSOIL (Part number HU9254X-EA) is $6.80 from AMSOIL. From most online BMW sites, they range from $7.95 to $12.25. That's a savings of $1.15 to $4.45 per filter. If you're running a BMW shop, or change oil on a lot of Beemers, this could be a good cost savings. Of course, if you take your Beemer to BMW, it likely costs $300.00 for an oil change.


I plan on having a detailed "how to" on changing oil on a BMW soon.