Top 10 Tools Needed For An Oil Change

Top 10 Tools Needed For An Engine Oil Change

An engine oil change is maintenance procedure that you can perform on your vehicle yourself... with the right tools! Changing your own oil at home is a great way to save money in vehicle costs and it's fun, too. I have created this post to tell you, in my own opinion as a mechanic, what are the Top 10 most important tools required for almost any oil change. So without taking up too much space with the introduction, here we go!

1. Combination Wrench

Fractional combination wrenchBy far the most commonly used tool for changing engine oil is the combination end wrench. This kind of wrench has an open side and a box or closed side. The open end of the wrench is great for quickly removing the wrench and repositioning it on the nut/bolt. The open end side has a greater possibility of stripping the corners off of the nut/bolt due to slippage. The box end is great for strength of the grip, because it grabs the nut/bolt all the way around on all of it's corners. The most common drain plugs require either a 13mm or 15mm wrench. There are of course exceptions, but if you could only invest in two wrenches then those would be the two to pick up.

2. Funnel

Funnel used for oil changeYou need a funnel when refilling your engine with engine oil because if you don't have one you are going to spill oil all over the place when trying to pour it into the small oil fill hole. If you have a very steady hand and can consistently guess where the oil is going to go when you start pouring, and if there is no wind or movement, then maybe you won't need a funnel. It is very unlikely that you will be able to do all of that, though. It sounds easy enough, but when you try it you WILL spill engine oil all over under the hood of your car and it isn't worth it. Just buy a funnel. They are usually pretty cheap. You can even buy more expensive funnels that thread into the oil fill hole so that you don't have to hold the funnel! It is well worth the money because you will use it on every oil change on every vehicle.

3. Oil Drain Pan

Oil Catch PanThe oil drain pan, also known as an oil catch pan, is used to collect the waste oil as it pours out from your engine after you remove the drain plug. If you didn't use an oil catch pan then you would have a huge mess with oil splattering all over the ground and staining your concrete/killing your grass. You can buy basic oil drain pans that are just a deep saucer or you can buy ones that have a pour spout on them so that when you've collected the spent oil you can pour it into a jug or other sealable and transportable container, like a milk jug. You can even make a drain pan by cutting the side off of a coolant jug. You can use your imagination and get creative to find things to make a drain pan out of because it is just used to catch oil, nothing too complicated.

4. Floor Jack

Automotive JackFor some taller vehicles like trucks you can just crawl under the vehicle as it sits and do the oil change, but on most vehicles you need to raise the vehicle so that you can fit underneath it. Unless you want to invest thousands of dollars to buy a vehicle lift/hoist you will probably want to purchase a jack. You slide the jack under the vehicle, position the lift point under a solid piece of the frame (not the bumper) and start pumping the handle up and down repeatedly to lift the vehicle. Most jacks can lift the vehicle over a foot, which will give you enough room to get under the vehicle.

5. Jackstands

Jack Stands lowered and liftedYou use the jack to raise the vehicle, but you need jack stands to safely support the vehicle after it has been raised. You could do the oil change with just a jack supporting the vehicle, but the jack is typically in the way and if the hydraulics spring a leak then the vehicle will come down and crush you. You raise the vehicle and then place the jackstands underneath of a couple strong frame pieces, then lower the jack and remove it from under the car. The jack stands are mechanical, meaning no hydraulics to fail, and they can be placed out of your way so you can maneuver yourself under the vehicle. The jackstands can be adjusted to hold the vehicle at different heights. If you want to do a safe oil change and not risk getting killed you will need at least two jackstands.

6. Oil Filter Wrench

Oil filter styles, cap, cup, band, strap, spring-load adjustable, pliersWhen performing an oil change you should always replace the oil filter. If installed properly on the previous oil change you should be able to remove it by hand, but rarely are they applied with appropriate torque. Oil filters are usually really tight and require a special wrench to remove them. You have two basic categories of oil filter wrenches: Band/Strap wrenches and Filter Cup wrenches. Band wrenches come in 3 rough sizes for small, medium, and large oil filters. The band is loose enough to fit around the oil filter and then when you apply force to the handle, it tightens around the filter and allows you a grip with leverage that helps you to remove it. These wrenches can sometimes crush an oil filter that is on way too tight. This style of oil filter wrench is relatively cheap and can be used on many sizes and brands of oil filter. The filter cup wrench is a cup with teeth inside the match the ridges of a specific oil filter. The cup is put on a ratcheting wrench just like you would put on a socket. It fits snug and allows for removal of very tight oil filters. The downside to the filter cup wrench is that it is more costly and will work for only one oil filter size, and so you may have to buy several to do oil changes on different cars.

7. Ratcheting Wrench and Sockets

Ratcheting wrench and socketsJust like with the combination end wrench, the ratcheting wrench and sockets are used to loosen and tighten the drain plug, but faster. With the end wrench you need to turn the drain plug half a turn, then remove it and reposition it to get another half turn whereas the ratcheting wrench allows you to do your half turn and then rotate it it the opposite direction without removing it from the drain plug and then you can do another half turn. Both tools do the same job, but the ratcheting wrench and socket is going to be easier and faster.

8. Oil Capacity Specification

Fluid Capacity Chart found in the Owner's Manual
This chart is for one specific vehicle and engine. It is simply an example
of what the fluid capacity chart will look like in an owner's manual.
Be sure to consult an appropriate source to determine the amount of oil to use.
This isn't a physical tool like the others in this list that allow you to perform a physical task, but it is an information tool. It is important to know how much oil to put into the engine so you don't over or under fill. You can check your owners manual which will tell you the fluid types and capacities for all of your vehicles systems, but some vehicle owners manuals are not with the vehicles because they've been lost, in which case you must find the information elsewhere. On my site I have compiled a list of vehicle makes, engine sizes and fluid capacities that will help you. I put all of that information into a Fluid Capacity Chart in PDF format. The chart is super handy so you should definitely check it out!

9. Heat Shield Arm Sleeves

Heat shield arm sleevesIf you don't use arm sleeves you will burn your arms. It hurts a lot. The sleeves don't cost much and prevents a lot of pain. They are as simple as they sound, just something that covers your arms. A long sleeved shirt will work. You can make them out of tube socks that you cut the toe out of. They do make professional products that cost money, but I'd just make a pair. The sleeve provides insulation between your skin and the hot engine.

10. Safety Glasses

z87 Safety GlassesIf you do an oil change without safety glasses you may be able to get by without problem, but it is better to use them. When the used engine oil drains out of the drain hole it will probably splash and could potentially splash into your eyes. The waste oil contains fine metal filings that can irritate and damage your eyes. The oil is also pretty hot and can burn your eyes. Rust and dirt from underneath the vehicle can fall into your eye and act as an abrasive that will damage your cornea. You only have one set of eyes for life and you don't want permanent vision damage because you tried to save a few bucks, so protect your eyes with safety glasses. They can be purchased for as cheap as $3. It is recommended that you use only z87 rated safety glasses. Z87 glasses have shatter-resistant lenses and a wrap around style that protects from the side of the eye as well as from the front.


Well that's it. I've just covered what I believe to be the 10 Most Important Tools Used To Change Oil! I hope this post has been informative for you, and I hope you learned at least one new thing. I may expand on each of these tools in the future, giving each tool it's own post. I only so briefly touched on each tool, and there is way more to say about each one individually. So keep checking back to see for updates! Thanks for reading and please comment and share!


  1. I have always been told that changing oil in your car could be something you can yourself. However, this seems way too hard for me to do by myself and without these tools. I wouldn't have even thought about needing heat shelves for changing oil.

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  3. Great Post ...Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting. I will be waiting for your next post.
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