New to changing your own oil? Just buy a Chrysler and not sure what you’ll need to change the oil? Fear not, oil changes are a much easier task than many people think and as someone who used to service vehicles at a Chrysler dealership in the middle of Iowa, I’ve changed quite a bit of oil in my time. To start, you’ll need to make sure you have the right tools for the job.
The tools you will need are a socket wrench, oil filter, something to drain the oil into, new oil (of the correct viscosity) and a socket that fits the drain plug on your vehicle’s oil pan.
First we will talk about the socket wrench, there isn’t a huge difference between wrenches, but you’ll want a 3/8 wrench in most instances. Remember, the longer the handle of the wrench, the easier it will be to get off stubborn drain plugs. Your drain plug will be under your vehicle, on the side of your oil pan. In most instanced you will need to jack up the front of your vehicle or put it on ramps to access the drain plug. Be sure you’ve found the right nut before you start unscrewing! Often times there will be a shield attached to the bottom of your vehicle protecting the underside of your vehicle. These shields are often plastic and held on with smaller screws (8mm to 10mm sockets often times) or screws you can twist off by hand or a flat-head screwdriver. Simply remove this shield and set it aside while you change your oil. If you can’t locate the drain plug right away, google images of your oil pan will give you a good idea of what to look for.
Speaking of, what size socket will you need to get the drain plug off? That depends what kind of vehicle you have, most will between 12mm and 18mm, so I recommend just buying a set around those sizes. You’ll find some car manufacturers tend to use the same drain plugs on different vehicles, for instance on most Dodge and Chrysler drain plugs you’ll need a 13mm socket. Be sure to double check you are using the correct size, you don’t want to round the head of your drain plug! Sometimes even the correct size socket can round the drain plug, if the plug is on too tight or getting old. For this reason, 6-point sockets tend to be better than 12-point, 6-point grip more securely, and reduce the change of you rounding the drain plug.
Next, you will need an oil filter, this is easily found out by a quick google search, or your local auto parts store employee should be more than happy to help you pick out the correct one for your vehicle. It is very important you use the correct filter- the incorrect filter can damage your vehicle! Depending on the type of oil filter your car has, you may have to buy an oil filter-specific socket as well. Again, since it is vehicle specific you will have to do a little research to make sure you get the correct one. Some oil filters you’ll be able to unscrew with just your hands (but be careful not to burn yourself, gloves are highly recommended) but others you will require an oil filter socket, many Chrysler vehicles for instance need a 24mm socket to unscrew the oil filter housing. If you plan to do oil changes on multiple different vehicles, you can always purchase an oil filter socket set. Even if your vehicle does not require an oil filter socket, you may want to buy a universal oil filter “claw”, this can make getting tight oil filters off much less of a headache and won’t burn your hands.
Once you’ve taken off the old oil filter, check and make sure the gasket, or “o-ring” came off with it, it will be a black rubber-like ring that helps seal the edge of the filter. I’ve personally forgotten to check and make sure the old gasket came out, and when there are two gaskets on the same filter, it makes quite a mess when you turn the car back on! On that note, when you put on the new filter, the filter just needs to be snug, no need to over-tighten it.
As for something to drain the oil into, this is a bit simpler, any oil drain pan will do just fine, just make sure you clean it out well and dispose of the old oil properly after your oil change! Most waste management companies will be happy to dispose of the used oil for you- occasionally for a fee, however. Once the old oil has been drained out of your vehicle and you’ve reinstalled the drain plug, it is time to put new oil in. It may go without saying, but do not run your vehicle without oil in it!
Next locate your oil cap, it will be under the hood of your vehicle, usually in plain site near the engine. Sometimes you will have to remove a plastic cover to find it. It will usually have an oil symbol on it along with the correct oil viscosity for your vehicle. If the cap says “5W-20”, purchase 5W-20 oil for your vehicle. Most non-diesel vehicles require between 4 and 6 quarts of oil, with some trucks and larger vehicles requiring upwards of 7 quarts. Your owner’s manual should be able to help you with this, or simply put in a few quarts in and check the oil level with your dipstick, keep adding oil as needed and keep checking the dip stick until it reads the proper level. Once you know how much oil your vehicle requires, I often take a white marker and write somewhere under the hood how many quarts of oil I put in, as an easy reference for next time (or the next owner of my vehicle). Once you’ve filled your oil to the proper level and re-attached the oil cap, make sure all shields and covers are back in there proper places and everything is tightened down. You may have gotten some oil around where you’ve been working- spills happen. To clean up smaller oil messes I usually use a can of brake clean. Brake clean is a quickly-evaporating cleaner that makes quick work of oil-covered pans and plugs. Don’t let the name fool you, it cleans a lot more than brakes!
After everything is cleaned up and put back together, turn your car on and let it run for a minute. Check for any new warning lights or check engine lights on your instrument cluster. If everything is as it was before the oil change (because who doesn’t have a check engine light on these days) step out of your vehicle and look underneath for any signs of oil leaking- be sure to check the oil filter as well. Let your engine get up to temperature, hot oil is more likely to leak than cold oil. If everything is in order, take a look at your odometer and make note of how many miles your vehicle is at, and write down when you’ll want to change the oil next. Depending on the oil you use and your vehicle, it will be sometime in the next 3,000 to 8,000 miles, or a if your vehicle isn’t driven that much, mark down the date and make sure to change it within the next few months.
If you plan on selling the vehicle privately in the future, you may want to keep the receipts of the oil and filter purchase, as a record of you keeping up the maintenance on your vehicle. Lastly, you will want to reset your oil change light, even if it isn’t on at the current moment. Newer vehicles you will be able to go into your vehicle settings via the dashboard on your vehicle. For older cars it may be more difficult, consult your owner’s manual or google for pointers on how to do this. European cars tend to be a bit trickier, compared to others like Chrysler. To reset the check oil light on a Chrysler, simply turn the car off and turn the key to “run”, then press the gas pedal to the floor three times. But the method differs between car manufacturers, and sometimes even between models from the same manufacturer. This is another reason to keep track of when you changed the oil, on an older vehicle it may be hard to tell if the maintenance light (or oil light) has been reset, if it comes on in just another 1,000 miles, chances are you didn’t reset it properly. After doing any maintenance to a vehicle, I recommend going for a short drive just to be sure you don’t go too far before realizing something is amiss.
And there you have it, everything you need and what you need it for when changing your own oil. Hope you found this useful and best of luck!