Are you sick of paying someone $35 every few months to change your oil? Would you rather do it yourself… but find the task of opening up your hood and finding the oil cap daunting? If so, follow this easy guide to changing your oil all by yourself and save some money!

I recommend changing your oil every 6,000 miles. Others recommend changing your oil after a certain amount of time (like getting it checked every three to four months), but I learned from taking a California traffic school that everyone drives differently month to month. Online traffic school offered tips on when you should change your oil and how often. You can make the decision for yourself once you know all the safety protocols regarding a vehicle.

What type of oil does your car use?

The first step seems like common sense, but needs to be mentioned. Check (and double check) what type of oil grade your vehicle needs. Different cars and trucks use different weight oils.

To find what grade of oil you need in particular, check the oil cap, and there should be some numbers and amounts on there. If you are still unsure, consult your owner’s manual, or as a very last resort, look up your car’s year, make, and model online and it should give you a close estimate, which you can confirm or deny with the clerk at your local auto parts store. You can always ask a professional to make extra sure, but it may cost you.

After you know which grade of oil your car takes, make note of how much oil your specific car holds.

Going Under

1. Next, place a shallow tray (like one of those paint holders for a rolling brush, easily found at most stores), under the front center of your car, ready to collect the old oil.

2. Open up your hood and take the oil cap (the one that you got the oil grade and amount information from) and unscrew the cap, but leave it on.

3. Get under your car and make sure the oil pan is directly below the oil tank.

4. Some vehicles have a plate that protects the bottom of the oil pan (to avoid a mess when and if you hit something in the middle of the road). Remove that plate if necessary (remember to keep all the pieces and parts together so you can put it back on properly!), and ensure your shallow pan is in place.

5. Then unscrew the bolt that covers the oil hole on your vehicle. The old oil, which should be dark black (and nasty) will start to drain out into the pan (so make sure you move your face in time).

6. Get out from under your car and go back to the oil cap under your hood and remove it (and put in a safe place). This should help the old oil flow more quickly into the pan below. Let the oil drain out completely, until you are sure nothing else is coming out.

7. Take extra care screwing the bolt back into the bottom of the oil tank, and put the plate back into place (with all the correct pieces to avoid future disaster).

8. Now you can finally get up from underneath your car, and move the old oil pan out and to the side.

9. Go back to the front of your car, and fill the oil tank up (with the correct grade and amount) using a funnel, then screw the top back on.

Easy peasy, right? Keep in mind that most auto places will take your old oil and recycle it if you drop it off in a plastic container. To feel even more comfortable opening up the hood of your car and understanding what you’re staring at, remember the tips that you had learned while taking that online traffic school, they will provide you the basics of operating and taking care of your car.

While changing your oil yourself may seem like a serious task, following these simple steps and keeping up with your car’s health can make you feel like your very own mechanic.