Fix-It Chick: Change a vehicle’s oil to extend its life

Changing the engine oil in a vehicle every 5000 miles is one of the best ways to prolong the life of any car or truck. Refer to the vehicle owner’s manual to identify the recommended oil type and oil capacity.

Step 1: With the engine warm, park the vehicle on a flat surface. Turn off the engine, set the parking brake and block the tires with bricks or wood. Raise the hood of the vehicle, unscrew the oil fill cap and set the cap in a safe spot.

Step 2: Spread newspaper under the engine to catch oil drips and slide beneath the vehicle. Center an oil drain pan beneath the oil drain plug. The drain plug looks like a large nut and is located on the lowest point of the underside of the engine. If the engine is warm, the metal around the oil plug should also be warm. Do not to confuse the oil drain plug with the transmission plug.

Step 3: Use a wrench or socket to loosen the oil drain plug. Avoid dropping the drain plug into the oil pan by first loosening the plug with the wrench and then unscrewing the plug by hand.

Step 4: While the oil is draining, use an oil filter wrench to remove the oil filter. The filter is full of warm oil. Be careful when removing it. Dump the excess oil into the drain pan and set the filter aside, right side up.

Step 5: Use a rag to wipe off the threads where the filter was attached. Dip a finger in the oil pan and use the old oil to lubricate the rubber gasket on the new oil filter. Hand-tighten the new filter into place. To assure the filter is tight, use a filter wrench to give it one last turn.

Step 6: Once the oil has finished dripping out of the engine, hand thread the oil drain plug back in place. Use the wrench or socket to give it one last turn. Do not overtighten the plug.

Step 7: Fill the empty oil reservoir with the recommended amount of oil. Use a funnel to avoid spills.

Step 8: Replace the oil cap and close the hood of the vehicle. Start the vehicle and let it run for five minutes. Check for leaks beneath the vehicle. Tighten the drain plug or oil filter if necessary.

— Have a home improvement question for Fix-It Chick? Email it to Linda Cottin at