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Change Your Truck’s Oil Like a Pro

Learning how to DIY when it comes to changing your oil will save you two things: Time and Money. Say goodbye to losing half a day and the thickness of your wallet on account of an oil change. This guide will walk you through the process step by step.

Safety First!

Let’s get a few safety items out of the way. When working with engine oil it’s best to wear goggles and some heavy work gloves. You really don’t want any oil getting on your skin so cover up as best you can. Make sure your truck is parked on a level surface. The emergency brake needs to be on. You’re going to want to elevate the front end of the truck with a jack and secure the truck, for extra safety, with jack stands.

Tool Time

There are a few tools you’ll want to have handy before you start the oil changing process. You’ll need a bucket or other receptacle to catch the old oil as you drain it from the truck. You’ll need two wrenches: One wrench needs to fit your drain plug, the other needs to be an oil filter wrench. That wrench is specifically designed for extracting and replacing oil filters. As you might have guessed, you need a new filter too. And, of course, some oil. Your owner’s manual will tell you the kind of oil you need, the filter you need, and the amount of oil your truck holds. You should grab a rag, while you’re at it.

Going In

It’s a good idea to run your truck for a few minutes to heat up the oil. It drains better when it’s hot. It also burns easier, so make sure you’re out of the way before you drain it. After you shut the truck off, it’s time to slide under the vehicle. Bring your tools with you, especially that bucket to catch the oil. Place the bucket underneath the drain plug, located on the oil pan. Carefully unscrew the plug and let the old oil drain into your bucket. Use your rag to wipe down the plug. Give the oil plenty of time to drain. Even after you’ve heated the oil it can still take the better part of an hour to drain fully.

When it’s fully drained, you can screw the plug back on. For this, it’s best to start with your fingers. When you can’t tighten it any more, grab your wrench and carefully twist it a little further. You don’t want to go any further than a quarter or half-turn with the wrench. This will keep you from stripping the screw or pinching the rubber seal, while making sure the drain plug is securely fastened.

Next it’s time to change the filter. Move the bucket to the side of the oil pan, underneath the filter. Use the oil filter wrench to remove the old filter. There could be some oil in this filter, so make sure you’re out of the way and the bucket is in a good position. When you’ve disposed of the old filter, apply some oil to your new filter and screw it into place. You want to use new oil when you apply it to the new filter to help with the sealing. As with the drain plug, you don’t want to over-tighten the new filter. Start with your fingers and then switch to the wrench for a final quarter-turn or so.

Now you can get out from underneath your truck! Bring your tools, bucket, and rag with you as you slide yourself out. You can go ahead and remove the jack stands at this point, and lower the jack, too.

Final Steps

Time to pop the hood. The only thing you want going in this tank is the new oil, so make sure you wipe away any dirt or particles that could fall in. Unscrew the cap and pour in your new oil. This should be the quantity listed in the manual. Be careful not to overfill the tank! Once the oil is in, you can go ahead and replace the cap and shut the hood.

Fire your baby up. Let your truck run for a few minutes. Pop the hood again, unscrew the cap, and use the dipstick to test the oil level. If it went down, top it off to the specified volume. Rescrew the cap, close the hood, and feel good. You just changed the oil on your truck.

That old oil and used filter need to be recycled. A quick google search will show you which auto shops and house waste management sites nearby will accept used oil and filters. What better way to bask in your success than to use your freshly-oiled truck to recycle that old oil? Come on back in another 3-5,000 miles and you can do it all over again.