This website requires cookies for you to make purchases. For more information on what data is contained in the cookies, please see our Privacy & Security page . To accept cookies from this site, please click the Allow button.
It's one of the simplest service jobs you can do, but if you are even slightly scared of touching a spanner, we're here to reassure you. Here are five classic car oil change tips to help you on your way.
1. Oil change preparation
We will keep this guide pretty general, so you'll need a bit of knowledge regarding your specific vehicle. Watch a YouTube video, flick through a forum or get your mitts on a workshop manual to get the low down before you start.
Whilst you might not carry the confidence of a seasoned mechanic for your first attempt, an understanding of the process and a vision in your head will help it go more smoothly.
Give yourself enough time. A couple of hours from start to finish will allow you to work at a leisurely pace. If you have somewhere undercover then great, if not dress appropriately and find some cardboard to lay upon.
It is your choice whether you fit a reproduction or genuine oil filter, and also for the brand of oil you choose to pour in. If you are uncertain , try looking for a recommendation from an owners club, an online review, or simply buy the best you can afford.
3. Where does waste engine oil go?
Before you order the parts, you need to work out what you will be draining the old oil into. You can source specific drainage trays for this job or, if you are on a budget and emptying less than 5litres, use an old oil can with the side cut open.
Once the used oil is collected, you will need a sealed container to transport it to your local recycling centre for disposal. Bring that container home again and keep it for next time.
4. Useful tools to complete an oil change
Depending on how low your vehicle is, you may require a jack and a set of axle stands to complete your oil change. If your classic car affords you the clearance to work underneath with the wheels on the ground, then perfect, if not it will need raising up to allow access to the sump plug and also the oil filter.
With a suitable device in place to catch the oil, you'll need a spanner or socket of some description to remove the sump plug and allow the old oil to flow out. I personally like to chase the used oil out with half a litre of clean oil, just to help clear any dregs that may be caught up. If you have jacked the vehicle up, the sump may now be angled keeping some of the used oil back. If this is the case, you'll need to adjust the jack to help drain it out.
There are a few different types of oil filters, from the 'in sump' oil strainers fitted in aircooled engines through to cannister filters and paper oil filter elements. A number of tools exist for the removal of these, from wrenches and pliers, bands, chains and straps. Your prior research should have helped to identify the most efficient method - don't be tempted to just jab a screw driver in the side; it'll end in tears!
5. Hot or cold?
It is generally considered best practice to drain your used engine oil when the engine is up to temperature. The reason for this is that the oil will be in its most fluid state, and will flow out more easily. You can read more about how oil works here.
Working around a hot engine carries a risk of burning should you touch the exhaust for example, so take care if you do this. If you prefer to change the oil when cold then allow longer for the used fluid to drain, and as mentioned above consider pouring some clean oil through to help the process along.
We would recommend the use of a funnel to avoid spilling oil everywhere when filling up. Not only will spilled oil smoke when the engine gets hot, but it will smell nasty and make a slippery mess on the floor.
Hopefully, that has either confirmed what you already knew or given you some extra pointers and the confidence to tackle your own classic car oil change next time around. Best of luck!