Thompson Rivers University

Automotive Service Technician’s 10-Step Oil Change

April 12, 2018

TRU School of Trades & Technology faculty member John Wrigley walks through a basic oil change with his students.

Once a month, TRU’s School of Trades and Technology hosts an evening of shop tours and program information, with instructors in attendance to answer questions and show off their respective dominions.

With the next event coming up on April 19th, we caught up with faculty member John Wrigley and his Automotive Service Technician students to run us through a basic oil change, one of the lessons covered early on in the Foundation training course. Spring is in the air this week and it won’t be long before your vehicle is calling for maintenance, so why not demystify this simple routine to save yourself a trip to the mechanic?


10-Step Oil Change Instructions:

  1. Raise the vehicle. You’ll need to get underneath the vehicle in order to access the oil pan drain plug, which you can accomplish by driving the vehicle onto a ramp or jacking it up and supporting with jack stands.
  2. Position catch pan and remove plug. Make sure the catch pan is large enough to hold the full volume of oil and adjust as you remove the plug to make sure it’s beneath the drain. Use a socket wrench to loosen the drain plug first, then carefully remove by hand so it doesn’t get lost in the draining oil. CAUTION: OIL MAY BE HOT
  3. Inspect vehicle while all oil drains. It will take several minutes for oil to drain completely, this is a good time to inspect other areas of your vehicle.
  4. Reinstall drain plug and torque. Wipe down the drain plug and oil pan threads, inspect condition of plug threads and replace if you have any concerns. When oil is finished draining, replace drain plug and use socket wrench to tighten to the manufacturer-specified torque in your owner’s manual.
  5. Remove old oil filter. Locate the oil filter on your vehicle and remove it–you may be able to do this by hand, or it may require a specific oil filter wrench to remove the cap. The filter will retain some oil inside, so remove carefully depending on its positioning.
  6. Clean mount and remove old O-ring. Make sure the O-ring from the old filter isn’t still clinging to the engine mounting plate and clean off any residue from the mounting plate.
  7. Lube new filter and attach by hand. Lightly lubricate the O-ring vicinity of the new filter with new oil for a smooth install, and screw onto the engine mounting plate by hand. Filters are generally tightened three quarters to one full turn after the filter O-ring contacts the engine, but check the filter’s directions to make sure.
  8. Remove oil fill cap and add new oil. Consult your owner’s manual to find what viscosity and volume of oil your vehicle requires. Remove the engine oil fill cap and use a funnel to pour in the specified volume.
  9. Replace oil fill cap and start engine. Let the engine run idle for at least thirty seconds, during which time you can inspect the drain plug and filter areas for oil leaks. If you notice any leaks, stop engine immediately and have them repaired.
  10. Stop engine, lower vehicle, and check dipstick level. Wait at least thirty seconds after stopping the engine to allow the oil to settle. To check the oil level once the vehicle is lowered, first remove the dipstick and wipe clean with a rag, and then reinstall completely. Remove again and check the oil level against the dipstick’s operating range, adding more oil as necessary to match the recommended dipstick oil level in your vehicle owner’s manual.

“This is something that they learn,” Wrigley explains, “so they can go out in the field and right away get to work for an employer.”

This Foundation course provides students who have limited mechanical experience with the skills they need to be an Apprentice Mechanic, with a strong emphasis on hands-on projects for practical training. Programming covers general shop practice, automotive fundamentals, engines, basic test equipment, electrical systems, running gear, clutches, transmissions, rear axles, steering systems and braking systems, applied mathematics and safety education. TRU’s School of Trades and Technology also offers Automotive Service Technician levels 2,3 and 4 Apprenticeship programs.

Beyond the realm of automotive, monthly Trades & Tech Thursdays provide prospective students with information on all trades and related degree, diploma and certification programs available. If you’re interested in learning more about a career in trades and technology but can’t make it on April 19th, check out the monthly schedule to find an event date that works for you.

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