Changing Your Own Oil In A Honda Civic

This is an explanation on how to change the engine oil in a Honda Civic at home for the Do-it-yourself guy or gal.

Regular maintenance is something that should be done, well, regularly. Though some people put off changing their oil for years at a time and have gotten away with it, their luck can run out at any time.

Changing engine oil is pretty simple and relatively inexpensive. This article will help explain how to do it correctly and which type of oil should be used.

Every oil change should start off at the store.

Many people have drained the oil out of the engine just to realize they don't have new oil around.

Oil isn't just Oil - just like Red isn't just Red. There are several protection levels and viscosities depending on what specific needs you have and the type of engine, in this case a Honda, you have under the hood.

The most prominent difference in oils are 'Conventional', where it comes out of the ground and is refined versus 'Synthetic', where it comes out of a lab and is specifically made for engine heat and wear.

There are also varieties of 'Synthetic Blends', which are exactly what they sound like, a mix of both.

Most people are comfortable with conventional oil because it's cheaper and it's been around since the late 1800s.

While it's true that synthetic oils are twice as much money as conventional oils, the cost evens out and is actually cheaper in the long run.

With conventional oils you have to change it every 3-months/3000 miles and change the filter. Synthetic oils can go for 6 months/6 thousand miles.

Change the oil only twice a year instead of 4 times a year, and buy half as many oil filters. This is an instant savings on time and money.

Synthetic oils also don't thicken up when it's cold; starting the car is faster and it's easier on the battery.

I have been using synthetic oils for over 6 years and now use it in everything I own, including my lawn mower.

The second thing to decide with oil is the weight.

The first number indicates how thin the oil is when it's cold while the second number indicates the "base" thickness when it's warmer.

0w-20 is synthetic and is only used in very cold places like Alaska and the Antarctic.

5w-20 is the newest addition to come out to the market and is used by manufacturers to reduce engine drag in order to increase fuel mileage, but recent news indicates that 5w-20 might be too thin and is potentially destroying a lot of newer engines.

5w-30, 10w-30 and 10w-40 have been around for a long time and come in both conventional and synthetic. They are the most common choices for cars these days.

15w-40 and 15w-50 are more for Diesel engines and provide proper lubrication for their specific needs.

20w-50, Straight 30 and 50 are for the workhorses. Race cars, tow trucks and haulers use this because their engines get a lot hotter and do more work than an ordinary car.

Next on the list is the 'Type Rating'. Gasoline engine oils change over the years as improvements are made.

Gas engines go by an S grade and are listed on the label inside or near the API stamp.

The first oils were listed as SA. As it got better it became SB and kept going up from there - SC, SD, SE, all the way up to the current SJ.

Since every upgrade is better than the last you can use SJ oil in a car calling for SI or even SA, but you cannot use SA oil in an SJ engine.

Diesels use the C indicator and isn't relevant to a Honda, but goes by the same concept.

For a Honda Civic we'll use either 5w-30 or 10w-30 conventional oil, type SJ, but you may choose the synthetic.

With oil and filter in hand raise and support the front of the car high enough to get underneath, comfortably.

Secure the car with wheel chocks and jack stands. NEVER GET UNDER A CAR THAT'S ONLY HELD UP WITH A JACK!

Look at your new oil filter and match it to the old filter attached to the block - usually located on the backside of the engine. If the filter is wrong, it's best to find out about it now.

(Note: Different filter manufacturers may have larger or smaller outside appearances but the thread and seal are the important parts.)

Using a wrench, loosen and remove the drain plug from the oil pan.

There may be two plugs to choose from. One is for the engine; the other is for the transmission. The engine pan is the one closest to the belt(s).

Drain the oil into a suitable pan. Never try to drain it into an empty washer fluid or coolant bottle, as wind and muscle fatigue will make a mess.

After the oil is down to a small trickle loosen and remove the oil filter.

Allow both the plug and filter oil to drain while you take a look around.

Here's a list of what to look at.

-Shake the tires for loose tie-rods or bearings.

-Look at your brakes.

-Check the tire pressures.

-Look over the entire exhaust.

-Check the axle boots for tears.

-Look for oil and coolant leaks.

-Look at your brakes.

If everything looks good, put a bead of oil on the rubber gasket of the new filter and install it along with the drain plug. The oil doesn't seal the gasket; it just eases the removal of the filter at the next oil change.

NEVER USE AN IMPACT GUN TO REMOVE OR INSTALL A DRAIN PLUG! Doing so will strip the threads from the bolt or, even worse, the oil pan and create a 'very expensive' leak.

Wipe the excess oil from the side of the engine under the oil filter and lower the vehicle.

Use a small funnel to pour your new oil into the filler hole once you get the hood open.

While the bottles are draining, take a look around under the hood.

-Look at the belts and hoses.

-Look for oil or coolant leaks.

-Look for any animal nests and resulting damage.

-Look at the coolant in the radiator.

-Look at the power steering fluid (if applicable).

-Fill the washer fluid.

-Check the air filter.

Now that the oil is in, start and run the engine.

Look for leaks under the car and check the transmission fluid if it's an automatic transaxle.

Shut the engine off and check the oil level on the dipstick to make sure the level is good now that the filter has been filled. Add oil as needed.

Now that everything has been looked over and any problems have been noted, you can close the hood (pull up on it after it's closed to make sure it is secure) and fill out the 'Next Service Due' sticker. Add 3000 miles to the odometer reading and 3 months to that day's date. If you chose synthetic remember to double the miles and months (6000 miles and 6 months from that date).

This is how I do my own oil changes, and my customers oil changes every day. This job can be done in roughly 30 to 45 minutes, including the thorough inspection.

© High Speed Ventures 2011