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How to Change Oil in a Honda Civic

by Jody L. Campbell; Updated November 07, 2017

Items you will need

  • Car ramps (recommended) or

  • floor jack and jack stands

  • Wheel chock

  • Metric hand wrench set

  • Bucket

  • Oil filter wrench

  • Rag(s)

  • Creeper (optional)

  • Funnel

  • Oil filter

Performing regular oil changes on a Honda Civic is as important as on any other car. All of the petroleum-based products in a car that heat up and cool down lose their chemical compound after a while. Engine oil is used to lubricate the engine, so it is under the most duress. With the high price of oil and labor, you can save time and money by changing the oil yourself if you have the proper equipment.

If you buy your oil at an auto-parts and/or service center, ask if they'll take the spent oil for no additional charge. Some places will do this for free, and all you have to do is bottle up the oil and bring it back to them.

Look at the manual for your car before you begin. You want to find the fluid specifications for the Honda Civic. If it's an older Civic, it probably calls for 5 W 30 engine oil; if it's a newer Civic, it may call for 5 W 20 oil. Whether or not you want to use synthetic is up to you. Synthetic oil is better and lasts longer; you can go longer between oil changes, but it also costs more money. Also try to find out how much oil the vehicle calls for. Some of the older Civics only took 3-1/2 quarts, but a lot of newer cars use more oil. It is also a good idea to write down the VIN number of your car, and its year and motor size. If there is a selection of oil filters at the parts store, give them the VIN number; they can determine which filter your car calls for.

Drive the car up on ramps on a flat, level paved or concrete surface. It's wise to have someone guide you up, but if no one is available, be extra cautious not to drive over the ramps. If you do not have car ramps, you can raise each front quarter with a floor jack and place the jack stands on the pinch panel extension behind each front wheel. Place the vehicle in park or in gear and apply the parking brake. Release the hood latch.

Place a wheel chock behind one or both rear tires. Raise the hood and remove the oil fill cap. The cap may even indicate what kind of oil the vehicle calls for; and by removing it, you're creating an air vent for the oil to drain quicker when you're under the car. Place the oil cap in a spot where you will not lose it and will remember to replace it before closing the hood.

Crawl underneath the vehicle, on a creeper if you have one, with your metric hand wrench set, a wide drain bucket, a new oil filter, a shop rag and an oil-filter wrench.

Locate the oil filter. Most likely, it's behind the right side firewall at the back of the engine. Filters on newer Civics are easier to spot, and may be right near the oil pan. Using the oil-filter wrench, loosen the filter; before you get it too loose, place the drain bucket beneath it to catch the oil that will drain from it. Remove the filter all the way. Be sure the old rubber oil-filter gasket did not remain on the oil-filter flange. Wipe clean with a shop rag after it has stopped draining. Rub a little oil onto the new oil filter gasket and screw it on tightly, but do not use the wrench; only hand-tighten. With the shop rag, wipe clean the area where the oil trickled down.

Locate the oil pan. Loosen the oil plug with the hand wrench (probably 19mm, but if not, you have the set with you) and place the drain bucket below. Remove the oil plug, being aware of the plug gasket. You do not want to lose this, and will want to replace it on the plug if it falls off. Allow the oil to drain into the bucket. When it is down to a minimal trickle, replace the plug and tighten it with the hand wrench. Wipe the area clean with a shop rag.

Remove all tools and the drain bucket from under the vehicle. Place a funnel in the oil fill hole in the engine and pour in the oil. Check the dipstick after 3 quarts and determine how much more might be needed. It would be wise to put in no more than 3-1/2 quarts and start the engine, then check the dipstick again. You may have to add some more, but it shouldn't take much more than 4 quarts.

Replace the oil fill cap. Close the hood. Remove the wheel chock and back the car off the ramps, or raise the vehicle, remove the jack stands and then remove the wheel chock.

Tips

If the place where you bought the oil does take back spent oil, you can drain the oil from the drain bucket back into the empty quart containers. The auto center may very well take the old oil filter, too, but make sure it's drained out well, so it won't make a mess. If not, you may have to check with your local dump and ask about their regulations for spent oil and filters.

About the Author

Jody L. Campbell spent over 15 years as both a manager and an under-car specialist in the automotive repair industry. Prior to that, he managed two different restaurants for over 15 years. Campbell began his professional writing career in 2004 with the publication of his first book.

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