Changing Your Oil

Last Updated - August 29th, 2004

New to the automotive world and looking for a place to start?  Changing your oil is a good first project for the newbie, not to mention something we all must do if we want our engines to keep running.


Time Investment:  Under an Hour

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Click on a picture to enlarge it

The oil plug is the bolt located at the rear of the oil pan.
Here's a top view of the oil filter on Mike's IROC.  ...and why yes, that is a Purolator Pure One filter from a 5.0 Ford Mustang.
When changing your oil you can lay down next to your front passenger side tire and reach the oil plug and the oil filter without jacking up the car.
Here's a zoom in of the oil filter at the front of the engine.


1.  Drive the car around and get it good and warmed up so the oil is hot.
Doing this accomplishes 2 things.  First, hot oil flows easier than cold oil so more will drip out.  Second, it circulates the oil around so more of the dirt in the system is suspended and will flow out with the oil.  You don't have to do this, but it's the "better" approach.

2.  Drain the old oil.
Put a pan under to oil plug to catch the oil.  Then loosen the bolt with a wrench and turn it the rest of the way out with your fingers on a leather gloved hand.  (Remember, the oil is HOT and will burn you if you aren't wearing gloves.)  One good technique is to lift the catch pan with one hand up near the pan while you remove the plug with the other.  This lessens the likelihood of spilling oil all over the place.

3.  Once the old oil has drained replace the oil plug. 
Snug it in good, but don't he-man it.  (30 ft-lbs)

4.  Remove the oil filter.
Depending upon your grip and how dirty it is, you may be able to simply grab it with your hand and twist it off.  Otherwise, use an oil filter wrench to twist it loose.  Once it's loose, get your catch pan underneath and then very carefully remove the filter.  Oil (again HOT) will pour out.  Be careful not to drop the oil filter into the pan as it will splash hot oil everywhere making one big mess.

5.  Install the new oil filter.
Apply a coat of clean new motor oil to the rubber gasket on the new oil filter.  Then screw the filter into place and once it stops freely spinning, snug it down an extra 1/4 to 1/3 turn.

6.  Fill the engine back up with ~ 4 1/2 quarts of oil.
Once you're part way through the 5th quart, start checking the dipstick to see if you've hit full yet (Always wipe the dipstick off, insert, pull out, and re-check).  Once you hit full, you're done.  Clean up and go back to toasting rice.


Tools & Supplies:

  • Socket wrench (3/8") or equivalent for drain plug
  • Oil filter wrench or adapter
  • Leather gloves
  • Motor Oil (5W30 Recommended)
  • Pan to catch drained oil


  • The recommended factory fill is 5W30.  We won't get into the debate over conventional vs. synthetic oils because there's plenty written on that elsewhere.  For everything you ever (EVER) wanted to know about motor oil, you can buy a copy of the "Motor Oil Bible" at  It's an interesting read for those who want to know everything there is to know about oil.  Amsoil (a manufacturer)  also has some comparisons of some synthetic brands that can be found at  Since it is their study obviously they come out on top, but it may be of interest to someone.

  • The standard oil filter for our cars is large compared to some cars on the road today, but it could be bigger.  We certainly have room for a longer one.  It's worth noting that the oil filter for a 5.0 90s Mustang will fit perfectly on our engines.  Bigger filter = more surface area = better filtration.  Thus, we recommend running with the bigger Mustang filter.  There really aren't any drawback to this.

  • Not sure which brand or type of filter to buy?  Russ Knize cut open a whole bunch of different filters and reported all of his findings about what was inside... and then got threatened with lawsuits.   You can new review his findings and figure out what you want to use for yourself.  It's an interesting read.