A Step-by-Step Guide to Changing Your Vehicle’s Oil

A race car pit crew member works to change the oil so that it is ready to continue winning races with its driver.

Racing fans, start your engines! But wait—not so fast. Before you hit the track and feel the thrill of speed, you need to make a crucial pit stop: changing your vehicle’s oil. Regular oil changes keep your machine running smoothly and efficiently, lap after lap. Like a champion racer, your engine needs the right care to maintain its condition. So race without worrying about sudden problems with our guide to changing your vehicle’s oil.

Why You Should Change Your Oil

Imagine you're tearing down the straightaway, pushing your car to its limits. What keeps your engine parts gliding seamlessly, preventing wear and tear? It’s the oil! Engine oil plays a crucial role by lubricating components, reducing friction, and dissipating heat. Without regular oil changes, contaminants build up, leading to decreased performance and potential engine damage. Changing your oil improves your vehicle’s overall performance, meaning you win more than you lose.

Step 1: Get All Your Tools

Before diving into the pit stop, let's gather our crew and tools:

  • Oil type
  • Oil filter
  • Wrenches
  • Oil filter wrench
  • Drain pan
  • Funnel
  • Gloves
  • Jack and jack stands
  • Shop towels or rags
  • Safety glasses

Having everything ready ensures the process is smooth, just like a well-prepared pit team.

Step 2: Prepare Your Vehicle for an Oil Change

It’s time to get your car into the pit lane. Start by parking on a level surface and allowing the engine to cool if running. Safety first! Secure your vehicle with jack stands after lifting it with a jack. This isn’t the time for shortcuts; your safety is paramount.

Now, find the oil plug and filter. If you’re unsure, your vehicle’s manual is your best friend here.

Step 3: Drain the Old Oil

Now, we’re in the thick of it! Place the drain under the drain plug. Carefully loosen and remove the plug with a wrench so that the oil can drain completely. A word of caution: oil may be hot, so wear gloves and be careful!

Once drained, replace the drain plug securely. Don’t allow your vehicle to become stationary. That’s what gets you most in trouble. Ensure the plug is tight to avoid any leak surprises down the track.

A mechanic holds up a replacement oil filter to use to change out the old oil filter on a race car driver’s vehicle.

Step 4: Change the Oil Filter

Next, it’s time to tackle the oil filter. Don’t use anything else but the oil filter wrench to take out the old filter. It might be stubborn, but a steady hand and patience will do the trick. Once removed, check that the old filter’s gasket doesn’t stick to the engine.

Before installing the new filter, apply a small amount of new oil to the gasket. Applying new oil to the gasket makes the removal process easier next time. Spin the new filter into place and tighten it by hand. Overtightening can cause leaks, so firm but gentle wins the race here.

Step 5: Add the New Oil

With the old oil out and the new filter in place, it’s time to refuel your engine. Make sure the funnel is in the oil fill hole, then slowly pour in the new oil. Check your manual for the exact amount needed. Overfilling is just as bad as underfilling, so precision is critical.

Once filled, replace the oil cap and wipe away any spills.

Step 6: Check for Leaks and Proper Oil Levels

Now, start your engine and let it run for a few minutes. Look under the car for any signs of leaks. It should be as dry as a desert if you've done everything correctly.

Make sure to turn off the engine and give it a few moments to cool. Use the dipstick to check the oil level. The oil should be within the marked range. If it’s low, add a bit more and check again.

Tips for First-Timers: Common Mistakes To Avoid

First-time pit crews should heed these words of wisdom:

Rushing the Process

Speed is for the track, not the pit. Taking your time and being meticulous is crucial when you're in the pit. Rushing can lead to costly mistakes and compromise safety. Patience and attention to detail can help everything run smoothly.

Skipping the Manual

Your manual is your essential guide for maintaining your vehicle. It provides detailed instructions on the correct oil type and the amount needed for optimal performance. By following these guidelines, you can ensure your engine runs smoothly and efficiently.

Ignoring Safety

Always use jack stands and wear protective gear when working underneath your vehicle. The equipment includes gloves, safety goggles, and steel-toed boots. Your safety is nonnegotiable, and taking these precautions can prevent serious injuries.


Whether it's the drain plug or oil filter, overtightening can cause significant damage and leaks, leading to costly repairs and potential engine failure. Always ensure you follow the manufacturer's torque specifications to avoid such issues.

Forgetting the Gasket

Double-check that you’ve removed the gasket. If a double gasket remains in place, it can create a poor seal, causing significant oil leaks and potential engine damage. Always ensure the gasket surface is clean before installing a new filter.

Reminders for Experienced Oil Changers

Even seasoned pit crews can benefit from a few reminders to ensure a flawless oil change process. Here are key points to keep in mind:

Using Quality Oil and Filters

Don't cut corners by using substandard products. Invest in high-quality oil and filters. They’re crucial for protecting your engine’s performance and longevity. Premium products can also better withstand extreme conditions and prolonged intervals between changes.

Monitoring Oil Condition

Regularly inspect the condition of the oil beyond just changing it. Look for any unusual color or texture that could indicate problems like coolant leaks or engine wear. Keep this approach in mind to better identify potential issues before they escalate.

Adhering to Interval Schedules

Stick to the recommended oil change intervals specified in your vehicle’s manual. While some may push for extended intervals, following the manufacturer’s guidelines ensures optimal engine health. Track your mileage and change the oil as needed to maintain peak performance.

Keeping Detailed Records

Maintaining a log of your oil changes, including the date, mileage, oil type, and filter used, can be invaluable. This record-keeping aids in managing maintenance schedules and provides a helpful reference for diagnosing engine issues.

A mechanic uses a dipstick to check the current condition and level of a car's engine oil before replacing it.

Oil Your Engine for More Race Wins

As we wave the checkered flag on this guide, remember that regular oil changes are crucial for keeping your vehicle at peak performance. Staying on top of oil changes ensures your engine runs smoothly and efficiently. It's an investment in the longevity and reliability of your beloved machine.

Regular maintenance keeps your car going down the track while safeguarding its power and performance. Take pride in knowing that each oil change brings you closer to the winner’s circle.

Get Your Race Car Down the Track Faster With Driven Racing Oil

Ready to take your vehicle’s performance to the next level? Experience the difference with Driven Racing Oil—one of the most trusted racing oil companies by racers worldwide. We offer products that help boost you to first place. Sign up today, and prepare your race car for the ultimate track performance.

And there you have it, race fans—a step-by-step guide to changing your vehicle’s oil, keeping your engine roaring and your performance unmatched. See you at the finish line!

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