How to change oil in your car

Changing the engine oil is usually one of the first jobs attempted by the rookie DIY enthusiast. It requires only a spanner to remove the sump drain plug, a drip tray to catch the old oil and a holding container to store the drained oil until it can be taken to a recycling pick-up point.

Certain designs, such as the locally made "Sumpy" oil drain container, conveniently serve both purposes. If you decide to change the oil filter as well (normally only necessary at every second oil change), you might find that a special oil filter wrench, available from spares and accessories shops, will save you many skinned knuckles.

Try to drain the oil immediately after a longish trip when it will be hot and free-flowing, bringing all the contaminants and suspended particles with it.

Ensure the car is in a level position. Before crawling underneath, raise the bonnet and put the can of fresh oil on top of the engine to remind you that you have to refill the sump before starting up. You'll be surprised how often a distraction has led to an engine being started without oil!

At the same time you can remove the filler cap to avoid a partial vacuum being formed inside the engine when the oil starts flowing out. A partial vacuum will slow down the initial flow of oil.

Now go under the car and undo the drain plug, while being prepared for the rush of scalding hot oil. Make a cup of coffee to give the oil time to drain fully, then clean the drain plug and the area around its opening meticulously.

Replace the washer on the drain plug if the old one looks dodgy. Refit the plug and screw it down firmly but don't over-tighten.

Now position the drain pan beneath the oil filter and, after wiping the area around the filter base clean, spin off the old filter, making sure its base gasket is not left behind on the engine block.

The engine might still be hot and the filter in a position calculated to inflict maximum torture, so steel yourself for a battle. Replace the filter with one specified for the engine. Pour fresh oil into the new filter, make sure the rubber gasket at its base is lightly coated with oil, then screw on the new filter and tighten by hand only.

All that remains now is to pour in the fresh oil. First calculate how much you should put in by subtracting the quantity that might already have gone into the filter from the quantity specified for the engine in the owner's manual.

Then, through the opening on top of the engine where the filler cap has been removed, pour in slightly less than what you have calculated - it's easier to add a little than to remove excess oil.

Replace the filler cap, start the engine, wait for the oil pressure warning light to go out, then switch off and check for leaks .