Every three to five months, you could drive to your local mechanic and get an oil change for about $46, give or take a few dollars. Or, you could DIY your oil change for about $20. Here are some tips for changing your oil and what to get at your auto parts store.

Buy Good Quality Parts

Before you start the oil change, you’ll want to get the right equipment. It starts will oil. Check your owner’s manual for the type and weight of oil that is recommended for your vehicle. While you’re reading up on that, check the recommended oil change interval. If the manufacturer recommends synthetic oil that will last up to 6,000 miles, you’ll need to make sure that you get a high-quality oil filter that will stand up to the distance. Don’t buy an economy filter unless you’re willing to change it every 3,000 miles.

The first time you change your oil, you’ll want an oil change kit that includes an oil drain pan and oil filter wrench. You should also have goggles and gloves for your safety. These parts are reusable multiple times making them an investment in the maintenance of your car.

Changing the Oil in Your Car

You want the oil in your car to be warm, not hot. If the car has been running, let it cool down before changing the oil. If it’s been sitting, run the car for about five minutes before you get started. Park it on a flat surface and use the parking brake. Place blocks behind the rear wheels. Raise up the front of the car with a jack. The basic process is:

  • Open the drain plug and drain the oil into the pan. Put the plug back on.
  • While the oil drains, remove the old filter and install the new one. Check to make sure that old filter’s gasket came out completely because you won’t get a good seal with the new one if it was left in. Don’t overtighten the filter. It’s recommended to hand tighten it.
  • Refill the oil. Check for leaks. Check the oil level with the dipstick. Start the engine and let it run a few minutes. Then let the car sit. Check the oil level again and top it off if necessary.
  • Set a maintenance reminder for your next oil change.
  • Recycle your oil and oil filter. Most AutoZone stores accept used motor oil, transmission fluid and batteries. You may also be able to recycle your old parts, too.

How Long Does It Take to Change Your Oil?

Most people can DIY an oil change in about 30 minutes, but it may take longer the first time you do it. It will take 45 to 60 minutes at your local mechanic’s shop. Plus, you can get it done when you want to do it, rather than waiting for the shop to open and having to take time off work. An oil change can be a DIY project if you have the right equipment. Look for oil specials at your parts store to get high quality replacement oil filters and tools.