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DIY - How to replace and top-up engine oil?

Snapshot: Changing the engine oil or doing a top-up is extremely easy. This article provides the detailed steps that one can follow and to do basic maintenance.

Engine is the most crucial part of a car and to ensure that it is always running in a good condition, you need to do periodic maintenance. While there are several checks and things that you can do to ensure this, the simplest one is to follow the service schedule recommended by the car manufacturer. Periodic engine oil replacement and top up is one of the most basic step that you can do on your own to make sure that your car’s engine is in great shape. First and foremost, you should know when to do a top up or when to change the oil completely.

Top-up

You would need to do a top up only if the engine oil level drops below the low level mark as indicated by the dip stick. A top up is generally required in case of old engines which start consuming comparatively more oil as they get old. You can do a monthly check up to ensure that the engine oil level is always correct. 

Things you will need: Engine oil, Wiping cloth, Measuring beaker and Funnel

Procedure:

1. Park the car on horizontal ground, start the engine and keep it running for about 5 - 6 minutes, this should warm the engine oil sufficiently. If the engine is already hot, you can skip starting the engine and proceed to the next step instead.

2. Open the engine hood and remove the dipstick and wipe it clean with cloth. To check the engine oil level, insert it again and remove to check the mark. Ensure that the oil is indeed below the low level mark and requires top-up.  

3. Remove the oil filler cap (it would generally be marked with “Oil” or will have a bright colour). If you are not sure, check the car owner's manual for the location. Pour the engine oil in small doses (250 ml – 275 ml) with the help of funnel followed by checks to ensure that the oil level does not go beyond the full level mark since this would have adverse effects on the engine.

4. After top-up, put the oil filler cap back and insert the dip stick before closing the engine hood.

Things to keep in mind:

1. It’s better to top up with the engine oil recommended by manufacturer and which is already there in the reservoir.

2. If your engine requires top up relatively frequently (every month). Get it checked from a mechanic, it may require overhauling.

Replacement

You should replace the engine oil as per manufacturer’s recommendation (service booklet that comes along with the car has these details). Every time you replace the engine oil, make sure that you also change the oil filter along with it. In case you rev the car too much, the oil may require change even before scheduled time. Engine oil’s colour would change from golden brown or blood red to light black over the period of use. To prevent sludge formation, it’s better to change the engine oil before it turns completely black and starts to thicken. Alternatively, as a rule of thumb, you can replace it every 7000 - 8000 kms. 

Things you will need: Engine oil, Engine oil flush, Draining pan, Funnel, Oil filter, Wiping cloth, Measuring beaker, Oil filter wrench, crush washer, Thick gloves made of natural fibre

Precautions: Use gloves and be careful at all times while removing the engine oil filter and other parts close to the engine. They might be hot and might cause burn.

Procedure:

1. It is not necessary to use engine oil flush, but if you have not changed the engine oil for longer length of period and it has turned black and somewhat thick, it’s better to use a good quality engine oil flush.

2. To use engine oil flush, remove the oil filler cap and pour the engine oil flush. Start the engine and let it run at idle speed for 5 minutes. After turning off the engine, wait for about two minutes, this would drain the oil in the oilways back to the sump.

3. Remove the dip stick to prevent vacuum build up. Slide under your car and drain the oil in the oil pan by removing the sump nut. Wait for about 15 minutes and let the oil drain until the last drop.

4. Remove the engine oil filter using the wrench. Keep the pan below the place where the filter is located, this would prevent oil spill on the floor.

5. Put the new crush washer and tighten the sump nut with hands.

6. Use new engine oil and rub it around the seal of the new filter by hand. Subsequently, screw it in place on the engine block. Once it is snug fit, a quarter of turn by hand would be just enough to secure it in place.

7. Remove the oil filler cap and pour the right amount of engine oil as mentioned in the car’s service manual. In absence of the service manual pour about the amount of engine that was drained. Subsequently, add it in small doses and bring it upto the full level mark as mentioned in the steps above.

8. Put the oil filler cap back and tighten it. Also, insert the dipstick back into its place and close the engine hood.

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