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Oil Change and "Top Of All Fluids"

So I decided to keep my car, 2005 Mitsubishi Galant ES. I am stingy right now so I plan on doing the oil change myself.

Oil Change
Do I need to replace the following during DIY oil change?

  • Oil Drain Plug
  • Oil Drain Plug Gasket
  • Oil Filler Cap
  • oil Filler Cap Gasket
  • Oil Filter
  • Oil Filter Mounting Kit

What is a Wrench Off Nut? Some oil filter has a description of “Premium Oil Filter w/ Wrench Off Nut”

Do I need to fill the new oil filter all the way up-as in full?

Top Off All Liquid

  • Do I need to replace or “flush” (the term I read used by others) the engine coolant?
  • Do I need to replace the power steering container and brake fluid container or just add new power steering fluid and brake fluid?

One Time Purchase Items (Any thing missing?)

  • Oil pan or that round thing to catch all the used oil
  • Ramp so I can crawl under my car
  • Wrench
  • Paper towels?

Disposing Items

  • I am aware that the used oil needs to be recycled. But how about the used oil filter?

With all of those questions, am I good to DIY my own car maintenance or just take it to a shop?

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I’ll help a little with the oil change stuff. With the ones I’ve done, I typically just replace the oil and filter. Replacing the oil plug gasket depends on the car. Some have rubber gaskets or crush washers and should be replaced; if it’s a hard washer, most of the time I’ll reuse. I’ve replaced the whole oil plug a couple times, but just cause I thought it needed it. If you want to replace the plug and gasket every time, it wouldn’t hurt and wouldn’t be expensive.

An oil filter wrench is a necessity for removal. I’ve always screwed the new filters on hand tight.

I’ve seen a couple YouTubers who think that filling the oil filter before installation is essential. I’ve never done it. I suppose there wouldn’t be any harm in doing so.

I’m not aware of filter recycling in my area; if there was, I’d take advantage of it. I let it drain into my used oil container for a day or two and dispose of it in the trash.

After you do one oil change and do the math, you’ll probably discover what you would pay for a shop to do it really isn’t that much. I enjoy doing it if I can without too much danger.

You’ll need to check your owners manual for the recommended change intervals for the other fluids. I’ve not found an easy way to recycle coolant in my area, so I’ve had it done at the shop. And these other fluid changes are infrequent enough, that I usually will pay someone who does it regularly.


With all the “specials” around I have found doing it myself usually amounts to saving about $3-5. Not worth the time it takes to get all the stuff, jack up the car, crawl around, clean up the mess I made…

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Where do you live? Inquiring minds want to know. I’ve looked at the specials around here. The CHEAPEST I can get an oil change for is DOUBLE what I buy the oil and filter for. And any place that’s only $3-5 more I don’t want to visit.

Coolant sales are triple what I can do it for at home.

Tranny fluid - I take in because I need a lift and it must be level when refilling. Not worth it to do at home. Especially when I only do it every other year.

My car uses synthetic oil, I can buy Mobile one or Pennzoil and a Toyota Filter for $30. Dealer charges $60 and you have to listen to a hard upsell for your air and cabin filters, battery service and the dealer is an hour round trip. Valvoline instant oil change is $79 and they have been trying to sell me a new battery and a $100 fuel system cleaner in a bottle when I get my NY inspection there the last 3 years.
When I change my own oil, I never strip the drain plug or mangle it by using vise grips like I had happen twice when I let other people do it.

While I am under the car, I check the transmission for leaks (no dipstick) and the CV boots for tears.

I have a mechanic I would trust to do it but he is so busy that everything requires an appointment and leaving the car.

I have good sturdy plastic ramps, I never trusted the metal ones and all I have to do to recycle the oil is set it out at the curb in its own jug on garbage day. The paper filter cartrige goes in the trash.

I plan on doing my own changes until I drop dead or they take me forcibly to the home.

I want to die in my sleep like my Grandfather. Not kicking and screaming like the passengers in his car.


One of my cars takes synthetic oil as well. I can get Mobil 1 with an M1 filter for less than $30 with the 5 quart rebate they have going on until the end of the month. You can do two of these in the fall and then two more in the spring so I always buy my limit and store them until needed. It is easy for me to change my own oil. Sure, I could take it in but then I have to have an appointment or wait in line. It is just easier to do it myself and save AT LEAST $40 vs. paying someone.

Oil is easily recycled here in MO. Anywhere that sells oil must accept used oil for recycling. I guess there is actually a value to this now of around $1/gallon for waste oil burners and recycling into new oil. You can just take a jug in and drop it off at any parts store, mechanic, etc.

As for the filters, they are just steel. I always throw mine in with loads of scrap metal so they get recycled that way. I always have plenty of scrap metal for them to go in with between having a farm and my computer business. You would be amazed at how quickly junk builds up. The steel and plastic is probably not even worth hauling in but the copper, aluminum, and components containing precious metals make it all worthwhile. Plus I have a way to get rid of it without having to pay and it is best for the environment to have it recycled.

I am sure any scrap yard would accept a few oil filters free of charge if you really want them recycled. Just throw them in a bucket and take them in once per year or whenever.

I would love to be able to do my own oil changes. The vehicles I have now have no clearance on the bottom; they need to be raised. I found raising a car to be a pain. Jacks and jack stands always seem to be in the way. I don’t trust myself to drive up on ramps without a spotter which I wouldn’t always have. And the plastic crap on the bottom or our Civic (the air dams, or whatever they’re called) rub on the ramps so you have to have a spotter to see if the ramps move; and the plastic crap can get bent or broken from the rubbing. From an oil change standpoint, I’d love to have my Blazer back.

I’ve largely ended up going to the dealer, but it’s not my favorite place to go. Frankly, I don’t need a TV or music or bottled water or popcorn or WiFi; I just as soon quietly read a book while I’m waiting. And I hate all the paperwork and typing the service writer needs to do so I can pay and get out of there.

I think its a good idea for a diy’er inclined owner to change their own oil. Not so much b/c its gonna save a boatload of money vs having it done at JiffyLube or their local inde shop, but b/c of these benefits:

  • You’ll warm the engine first, then allow plenty of time for the old oil to drain out.
  • While the oil is draining out you’ll inspect the underside of the car for any problems, especially the cv boots.
  • And you’ll lube the door hinges and hood latch.
  • And you’ll top off any other fluids which are low.
  • You’ll know the brand and specs for the oil that was used, and keep the receipts in your car file, w/date of oil change and miles on the odometer.
  • You’ll know what brand of oil filter was used, and keep the receipts.
  • You’ll double check the oil level on the dipstick is at the full mark before starting the engine, and again after you’ve driven a few miles, and again the next morning.
  • You’ll look carefully for any signs of leaks, either from the oil filter, or from the drain plug before starting the engine, and after.
  • You’ll know the torque spec for the drain plug & won’t overtighten it or cross the threads.

As far the procedure, it varies car to car. Ramps are the easiest way for me. It’s a good idea imo to replace the drain plug gasket w/ a new drain plug gasket w/every oil change. Buy 10 of them next time you visit the dealership parts department. If you’re objective is to “top off the other fluids”, then no draining or flushing is required, just add enough to bring it to the full mark. The only one I don’t recommend to top off to the full mark is the brake fluid, b/c the amount it is down gives you an estimate of how much wear you have on your brakes. And when you replace your brake pads, if you’ve added brake fluid in the meantime, the fluid will overflow the bottle and make a mess. When I change oil I put a piece of vinyl flooring material under the car, which makes it easy to wipe any oil drips from. I wear latex gloves and keep a roll of paper towels on hand. You can save yourself some clean-up time by lining the oil catch pan with a plastic garbage bag liner. Then when done pour the old oil into a container for disposal, and put the old filter into the plastic garbage bag, tie a knot to prevent oil leaking out, and toss the bag with the old filter into the garbage can.

I don’t pre-fill the filter. MY reasoning is that the oil from the pre-fill area goes directly into the engine when you start it. It doesn’t go through the filter first. If you accidentally get debris in that area while pre-filling, it could damage the engine. It’s a risk benefits ratio thing. Not pre-filling to me is the better compromise.

I think the “wrench off nut” refers to a type of oil filter design where a nut is welded to the oil filter. Then in theory you can remove the oil filter with a standard wrench or socket/ratchet. In practice I’d guess it is easier to just remove an oil filter using an oil filter wrench. The reason is b/c the oil filter wrench applies torque on the whole diameter of the oil filter, rather than just a small nut. Suggest to ask someone who’s done this before to be on hand to provide assistance the first time. They’ll make sure you drive the car up the ramps safely, and stop before going over the top, and don’t accidentally remove the drain plug without the pan underneath the car first, don’t accidentally drain the transmission fluid out instead of the oil, stuff like that.

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Back in the 1970s, I think there was an engine oil war on among the refiners just as there were gas wars among the different brands. I bought Valvoline 10W-30 for 25¢ a quart after the mail-in rebate. Even better than that, I bought Citgo 10W-30 for 0¢ a quart after the mail-in rebate. This was free motor oil. I had a Ford Maverick. The drain plug was on the side of the oil pan. I could slide the catch basin under the car, reach down from above the engine and remove the oil plug. The filter was on the side of the block. I could change the oil and filter and never get under the car.
The least expensive oil I can buy for my Toyota Sienna is full synthetic 0W-20 for $2.79 a quart in the Harvest King brand name at my local Rural King farm store. This oil meets Toyota’s requirements for motor oil. I can purchase the 5 quarts of oil for $13.95 and a filter for $4 and I am under $20 for an oil change. However, at my age, I am too lazy to drive the Sienna up on ramps and do the oil change. I just take the Sienna to the dealer. The only oil changing I do these days is on my lawnmower engines. If oil changes were as easy as on my 1971 Ford Maverick, I would still be changing oil myself.