Can I Use A Tire Jack To Change Oil?

No jack is safe to use for an oil change without also supporting it with a jack stand.

You will not need a car jack to change your own oil if you have enough room to crawl underneath the vehicle and access your oil pan. Some SUVs and Pickup Trucks will have plenty of room for you to slide underneath it and change the oil without jacking the vehicle up.

However, if the car is too close to the ground — or if you want more room to work — you can use a tire jack to raise your car. Just be sure to support it with jack stands as well before you crawl underneath it.

You can save money by purchasing an oil filter wrench changing your car’s oil and oil filter at home. It only takes 15 minutes to do the job, making it one of the easiest vehicle maintenance tasks you can do.

When I was a kid, my dad would park his cars with the front wheels on a curb. He would then crawl underneath them and change the oil. Looking back, I now realize how incredibly dangerous this was.

No jack is safe when used by itself. A hydraulic floor jack can leak fluid around the o-ring causing the jack to collapse. Never trust your life to a 20-cent O-ring.

Scissor jacks were designed for emergency use such as for changing a flat tire. Scissor jacks are also dangerous since they have a small base and are likely to slip or fall over.

Use jack stands to stabilize the vehicle before crawling underneath to change the oil. Do not use a jack to hold a car up.

See Related: Can You Use Dish Soap To Wash A Car?

Tools You Need For Changing Your Oil:

  • Tire Jack
  • Jack Stands
  • Oil Filter Wrench
  • Drain Plug Wrench
  • A Drain Pan For Catching used Oil
  • A New Oil Filter
  • Replacement Motor Oil
  • A Local Place To Drop Your Old Oil For Recycling
mechanic and oil catch pan

You can save money by changing your oil by yourself. Plus once you own the jacking apparatus, you can also use it to safely lift your car for more intricate maintenance like brake pad changes.

What Are Jack Stands? Jack stands have a wider base and a locking mechanism that holds them in position. Once the vehicle is raised, place the jack stands underneath and raise them to the correct position. Then, lower the vehicle onto the jack stand. The jack stand creates a stable, safe support for you to work underneath.

See Related: What Does a Clean Car Say About You?

How To Use A Jack To Change Your Oil

Depending on how your vehicle, you should only need to raise one side off the ground in order to have enough space to access your oil drain plug. However, on some cars, you will need to jack both wheels off of the ground.

Here are the steps:

  1. Park your vehicle on a level surface.
  2. Let the engine cool. You don’t want to burn yourself on hot engine oil when you release it from the oil pan.
  3. Set the parking brake and chock the rear wheels.
  4. Consult the owner’s manual for safety instruction and for the location of jacking points.
  5. Position your tire jack and raise one wheel.
  6. Place jack stands by the jack and lower the car onto it.
  7. If you need more room, repeat the process on the other wheel.

It is recommended that you do not lean into the engine bay while the car is raised.

showing how to set a jack stand next to a jack

In order to change your oil, perform these steps:

  1. Position the drain pan
  2. Remove the drain plug
  3. After the old car oil has stopped flowing, replace the drain plug.
  4. Remove the oil filter with your oil filter wrench
  5. Apply a thin film of fresh oil to the seal of the oil filter and then screw it into place.
  6. Refill the

Once you have completed your oil change, you simply reverse the process to lower the car. Performing regular basic maintenance like this will help your vehicle’s engine stay properly lubricated and last longer.

demonstrating how to change on oil filter

Frequently asked questions(FAQ)

Are Car Ramps Safe For Oil Changes?

My favorite way to lift a car for an oil change is with ramps. All you have to do is drive up the ramps, set the parking brake, and set chocks behind the rear wheels.

So long as your car ramps are rated for a weight equal to or greater than your vehicle, there should be no risk of them collapsing.

The only danger with ramps is if they have been stored outside and are rusted. Make sure your ramps are in good working condition before using them.

Do I Need Four Jack Stands To Change Oil?

No, you only need 1 jack stand. At the most, you might need two jack stands to do the job if your car sits close to the ground. Unlike what we discussed in our article on raising a car on 4 jack stands, this task is much simpler.

Can you change oil without jack?

If you have a van, pickup or SUV that sits a foot or more off of the ground you may be able to change the oil without a jack. You do not need to raise the car just to enhance the oil draining. In fact, when more advanced technicians do this work, they do not tilt the car but keep It level during the entire process.

Where can I put the jack when changing oil?

The Jack should be positioned on the pinch weld or other marked jacking point. If your car has a subframe, you can position the jack along the frame to lift your vehicle. If you position the jack incorrectly, you risk causing the car to slip off and fall. See Related: Where To Place Jack Stands

Why are jacking points important?

There are a lot of parts under a vehicle that looks like suitable jacking points. However, if you jack at the wrong point, those items will bend and break, leading to costly repairs. A jacking point is a reinforced area that is designed to support the weight of your vehicle during jacking.

demonstration of jacking points on toyota prius

Is it okay to lift a car by the differential?

This depends on your vehicle. If your owner’s manual lists the differential as an approved jacking point, then it is definitely safe to lift it at the differential. Some differentials have reinforced housing and are designed as a lift point. So long as you don’t apply pressure to the thin metal cover that is used to hold the differential oil in, you should be ok.

Can you change oil with one jack?

Yes, one jack and a jack stands are generally sufficient for changing your oil. You can even use the scissor jack included with your car for changing the spare tire. Just be sure to also use a jack stand as well.

What happens if you don’t change oil?

Your car produces sludge and metal shavings as you drive it. If those are regularly removed from the engine with an oil change, it will shorten your engine life.

Zachary Drumm

Hey! My name is Zachary Drumm! This site allows me to test new tools, piddle around in the garage, and share the insights I get from flipping cars and houses. When it comes to tools, home improvement, and being a “shade tree mechanic,” you’ve come to the right spot. If I’m not in the garage creating content, you’ll find me outside, running, canoeing, and traveling. My goal is to empower more people to be self-sufficient.

Join The List

Sign up to receive exclusive discounts and new blog posts.