An engine is the heart of a vehicle and to keep it in good shape it is important to lubricate and maintain it properly. Proper lubrication and maintenance gives the engine more protection and power to perform efficiently. Therefore, using good quality engine oil is vital in extending the life of the engines.


The following are some simple ways for the maintenance of automotive engines:


Regular Oil Changes
An engine comprises a number of moving and rotating parts that needs to be well lubricated with good quality engine oil. With increased usage engine oil gradually loses its lubricating qualities and gets oxidized under high temperatures; hence engine oils need to be changed periodically/at recommended intervals to help preserve their protective properties leading to enhanced performance of the engines.


With time, the engine oil level drops because some amount of oil gets burned inside the engine. One needs to check the oil level at regular intervals as low oil levels causes serious engine damage. Check the level of oil with a dipstick and do top-ups as required. To find the location of the dipstick, check the maintenance section in your owner’s manual.


Using engine oil only of the recommended viscosity and grade
Viscosity of the engine oil for a particular vehicle is based on the type of the engine and the application of the vehicle. It is advised that one should fill oil only of the recommended viscosity and grade.


Protecting the engine from overheating
Fuel burned inside the engine produces a lot of heat. The cooling system helps to keep the engine temperature under control by circulating liquid coolant from the engine into the radiator installed in the front of the car where the coolant is cooled down by the air flow passing through the radiator fins.
If there is a problem with the cooling system the engine starts to overheat which can result in serious damage to the engine. One of the common problems with a cooling system is the lack of coolant caused by leaks. Coolant leaks are very common and it should be ensured that no leakage is there. It is important to keep the coolant level to the full; hence it should be regularly checked and topped up. The owner’s manual generally has the directions.


Caution: The coolant overflow reservoir or the radiator should never be opened when the engine is hot.


Disposal of engine oil
Used oil can get into waterways and contaminate ground water supplies resulting in increased pollution. So, when getting the vehicle serviced, please ensure that proper arrangements have been made to dispose off the used oil in a safe and responsible way.


Things to remember while changing oil:

  • Wear gloves

  • Drain used oil into a leak proof container

  • Use a funnel for transfer

  • Skin should be cleaned with a degreaser immediately in case oil spills

  • Do not mix other substances with the used oil, such as anti-freeze or transmission fluid

  • Avoid containers that previously held paint, petrol, bleach, cleaners or other automotive fluids, as they can contain residues that contaminate the oil or cause chemical reactions

  • Do not dispose the used oil in drains. Instead go to a centre that has disposable barrels. Thereby you can enhance the environment


Now you can easily learn how to change your vehicle’s oil yourself. Keep a written record of the mileage and date for each oil change. That way it is easy to keep track of when your next change should take place. However, always keep in mind the safety tips and follow the guide/owner’s manual carefully to avoid any accidents. Follow these steps to change the oil yourself:
Step 1 – Choose your oil
Choose your oil according to your vehicle usage. Check your owner’s manual to ensure that you have chosen the oil that is perfect for your vehicle. Also keep in mind any special requirements or conditions and the warranty recommendations. If your car usage puts an extra strain on your engine then you’ll need to change your oil more frequently.
Step 2 – Prepare your vehicle
Before getting under your vehicle, consult your owner’s manual for directions and safety. Always use a portable wheel ramp to hold your vehicle up as a jack is very unstable. Cold oil will not drain properly, so before starting work drive your car around to bring the oil temperature to normal operating temperature. Then switch off the engine and raise the bonnet to loosen the oil filler cap to avoid creating a vacuum. This will allow the oil to drain from the bottom more freely.
Step 3 – Drain the old oil
First, locate the oil drain plug on the underside of your vehicle. It will be located at the bottom rear end of the engine sump or oil pan. Place the drain pan underneath the drain plug and slightly towards the back. Using your wrench, turn the plug anticlockwise until it rotates freely. Finish removing the plug by using your hand. You must be careful of the oil now as it may be hot and pour out quickly. Most drain-plugs also use a sealing washer, so be careful not to lose it.
Step 4 – Remove the oil filter
After you have drained the oil, loosen the oil filter by turning it anticlockwise with a filter wrench. Complete the removal by hand, taking care not to touch the hot exhaust manifold. Ensure that you are wearing protective gloves. The oil filter may be filled with oil, so carefully ease it down and away from the engine, and then tip its contents into the drain pan. Some oil filters are mounted horizontally and when loosened might leak engine oil, so be prepared for it.
Step 5 – Replace the oil filter
Take your rag and wipe in and around the filter seat on the engine to clean it. Then take a new filter and use your finger to apply a light film of oil to act as a sealant to the gasket. Carefully screw the new filter onto the threaded oil line, turning it clockwise. Once it is aligned properly, the filter will thread on easily. Continue to tighten the filter by hand; however, take care not to over tighten. Clean the oil plug and copper gasket and then align them and replace the plug. Thereafter, screw the plug in by hand and finish by tightening it with a wrench.
Step 6 – Add clean oil
Carefully release the handbrake and allow your vehicle to slowly roll back down the ramp to ground level. Please note that you must not run the engine at this stage or severe damage will occur. After this proceed to add clean oil. On the top of the engine you will find the Oil Filler Cap usually marked with the symbol of an oil-can. Unscrew this cap and proceed to fill the engine with the required quantity of oil, checking with the dipstick to ensure proper fill level. Replace the cap and wipe off any spillage. The oil light should go out as soon as the engine is started. Run the engine for several minutes, then switch it off and check the dipstick once again to ensure proper oil level. If it is not, then add some more oil. Make sure to check under the vehicle for leaks – especially around the oil filter and sump drain plug.
Step 7 – Dispose your used oil
Now you must carefully dispose off your used oil. Used motor oil is highly toxic to the environment and it’s of utmost importance to dispose it off in a safe fashion. Carefully transfer the used oil into a sealed container. Avoid plastic bottles that previously held paint, petrol, bleach, cleaners or other automotive fluids, as they might contain residues that would contaminate the oil or cause chemical reactions. Do not mix other substances with the used oil, such as anti-freeze or transmission fluid as it can be dangerous. You can ask your local garage about the options for safe disposal. Mostly, the garage will take the oil and arrange for it to be recycled or safely disposed off. You may also contact an environmental agency that can direct you towards an alternative option.