Process Analysis

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Changing your engine oil is one of the single most important vehicle maintenance acts you can perform. Over time the oil breaks down and no longer performs its job the way it did when it was new. Your engine's oil helps absorb heat from the engine and lubricates moving metal parts that would otherwise grind together. As you drive, the oil pump circulates oil within your engine and the oil filter catches the deposits that build up over time. The oil filter performs its own type of car maintenance by keeping the oil clean. But as the oil gets older, the number of deposits in the oil continues to build and the filter is unable to extract all of the material. When this happens, the color of the oil changes and it indicates the oil should be changed.

To check the clarity of your oil find your oil dipstick, pull it out and check the level of oil and its color. If the oil is a dark-brown or black color, like Coca-Cola, then your oil needs to be changed. However, if it appears to be lighter, like the color of a cup of tea, then you still have some time before it needs to be changed.

Before you can drain the oil, there are few steps you need to take to get ready for this minor auto maintenance process. The first is making sure you have the right tools and equipment on hand. To drain the oil, you're going to need a socket wrench, oil filter wrench and an oil catcher or recycling container to catch and store the old oil until you dispose of it. It's also a good idea to have some rubber gloves and rags or shop towels on hand.

Some vehicles, like pick-up trucks and SUVs may have enough room for you to get under the vehicle to work, but most sedans and smaller cars won't. When you take your vehicle to an automotive maintenance shop, they can use a hydraulic vehicle lift to easily get underneath. But if you need the extra space, just drive the vehicle onto a set of car ramps or use a sturdy pair of jack stands.

Locate the oil drain plug under your vehicle. It'll be a...
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