What You Need to Know Before Changing Your Oil: Filter, Oil Grade, Caps  Wrenches


Regular oil changes are vital for maintaining your car’s engine health and performance. While some owners prefer to take their vehicles to a professional, many people prefer to change the oil themselves. However, before diving into the job, it is necessary to understand the components involved, like oil filters, oil grades, a Mr Gasket oil filler cap, drain plugs and other necessities.

Oil Filters: The Engine’s Cleaning Crew

The oil filter is like a cleaning crew at a factory, constantly collecting contaminants so they don’t affect the flow of the engine or operation. Over time, the filter gets clogged, reducing its ability to clean the oil effectively, so routine filter replacement is as necessary as changing the oil.

There are two common types of filters: spin-on and cartridge. Spin-on filters are the most common. They have a cylindrical body and a threaded base that screws to the engine block.

The cartridge filter uses a metal housing attached to the block. The housing remains, but the internal cartridge is periodically replaced. 

Choosing the Right Oil Filter

Don’t underestimate the importance of selecting the correct oil filter for your car. A mismatched filter may not seal correctly, resulting in oil leaks and possible engine damage. Always consult your car’s owner’s manual to identify the filter type and possible part number recommended by the manufacturer.

Oil Grade: Understanding Viscosity

Understanding oil grades is key whether looking for the optimum Suzuki Swift oil grade or a high-mileage grade for a worn Buick. Motor oil comes in various grades, indicated by a two-number designation like “10W-30” or “5W-40.”  The first number (10W or 5W) refers to the oil’s viscosity at cold temperatures. A lower number signifies a thinner oil that flows more easily during cold starts. The second number (30 or 40) represents the oil’s viscosity at operating temperatures. A higher number indicates a thicker oil that provides better lubrication at high temperatures.

Once again, your owner’s manual is your best resource for determining the appropriate oil grade for your car. However, factors like climate, engine type, and driving habits can also influence this decision. For instance, if you live in a cold climate with frequent winter starts, a lower-viscosity oil (5W-30) is preferable to ensure proper lubrication during chilly mornings. Conversely, hotter climates or vehicles used for heavy-duty towing might require a higher viscosity oil (10W-40) for optimal protection under intense heat.

Tools: Reviewing Drain Plugs and Wrenches

The oil drain plug is a threaded bolt located on the underside of your engine oil pan. Removing it allows used oil to drain out. Most drain plugs require a wrench or socket to loosen them. The size of the wrench will vary depending on your car’s make and model. For example, a Fiat oil filter socket likely won’t fit a Ford. Consult your owner’s manual for the specific size needed. Beyond a filter and plug socket, to change your oil, you may also need:

  • Socket and ratchet set
  • Oil drain pan
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Funnel
  • Safety glasses and gloves
  • Shop rags

With the right tools, changing your oil can be a straightforward job. Contact a local auto parts retailer if you don’t have everything you need.

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