How to Find Oil Drain Plug

by Dan Ferrell
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Photos courtesy of Robert Couse-Baker /

Finding the oil drain plug on your vehicle is the first step to changing your engine oil, oil filter or drain plug gasket, which should be part of your regular maintenance schedule. This should be done every three months or at the intervals recommended by your car manufacturer. Regular oil changes help increase the life of your engine more than anything else will. And with this guide, you will not only be able to find the drain plug, but also replace the oil and filter on your car.

Step 1

Buy the oil filter and the correct amount of engine oil recommended for your particular vehicle model. If necessary, consult your vehicle's owner's manual or service manual.

Step 2

Start the engine and let it idle for three minutes. This will bring the engine to operating temperature and allow dirt and other small particles around the engine to flow down with the oil, which makes it easy to remove. Then turn off the engine.

Step 3

Raise the front of your car using a floor jack and install 2 jack stands for support.

Step 4

Place a couple of chocks at the rear wheels and apply the parking brake.

Step 5

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Look at the bottom of the engine oil pan. Around the bottom of the pan, you should see a single bolt. That's your oil drain plug. (Some vehicle models use a similar round plug, which you can pull to drain the oil.)

Step 6

Place a catch pan under the oil pan, near the drain plug.

Step 7

Unscrew the drain plug using a wrench or ratchet and socket and let the oil drain into the pan. Be careful when removing the plug, since the oil is hot at this point. Allow all the oil to drain out of the engine.

Step 8

Remove the oil filler cap from the valve cover on top of the engine to speed up oil removal. Most of these caps are marked with the words Engine Oil for easy identification. If necessary, consult your owner's manual.

Step 9

Clean dirt and grease accumulated around the valve oil cap using a shop rag, if necessary.

Step 10

Inspect the drain-plug O-ring or gasket. If worn out, replace it.

Step 11

Thoroughly clean the drain plug, around the oil-pan mounting bolt and threads. Use brake parts cleaner, wire brush and shop rag to get rid of dirt and grease.

Step 12

Replace the drain plug. Start the bolt with your hand to avoid damage to the treads. Then tighten the plug with the wrench or ratchet and socket.

Step 13

Move the catch pan near the oil filter and unscrew the filter with a filter wrench.

Step 14

Apply a light coat of new oil to the oil filter gasket and install the filter with your hand. When the filter gasket reaches the mounting surface, give the filter an additional 3/4-turn.

Step 15

Pour the new oil through the valve cap opening using a small funnel, if necessary. Then install the valve cap.

Step 16

Check for oil leaks and lower the car.

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