Changing your Mustang's oil.

Written by Mustangworld.

Lots of pics, I hope your on the net at 28.8 or faster.

Why did we post this? Doesn't everyone know how to change their own oil ? The answer is no, not everyone. We wanted to show this for educational purposes in the 4.6L. The only real difference between Mustang (5.0, 4.6L, 3.8L, etc.) engines is the amount of oil used and the location of the oil drain plugs and filter locations. The 4.6L oil change is the most messy of them all so we decided to show you a "clean" way to do it. Also, if you take your stang into a "speed lube" place for an oil change, make sure they do a "clean" job.

For those who have never changed their own oil, it's quite easy to do, but you WILL get your hands dirty with oil. Make sure your engine is not too hot or you may burn your hands with hot oil when you drain it. You can do this at home in your driveway. Make sure you get a large diameter oil drain pan to catch all the oil. We also recommend a large "oil blanket" to prevent drops from hitting the ground. If oil spills on your driveway, clean it up right away to prevent stains.

When you are done TAKE THE USED OIL TO YOUR LOCAL AUTOPARTS STORE FOR DISPOSAL !!!!!!! DO NOT THROW IT AWAY IN A REGULAR GARBAGE CAN OR DUMP IT DOWN ANY DRAIN !!!!! If caught illegally dumping oil it's a federal and state crime (in all 50 states). You may also have to get a proper oil transfer container to take the oil to the autoparts store! A cop can and will ticket you for using an illegal oil container when transferring oil on the highway (can you believe it?) Yes, it's true, so get a "legal" oil transfer container from your autoparts store before you start (many folks don't know about this new law yet). Gallon water jugs won't cut it anymore. Check with your local state laws about transferring "used oil" on the highway. All these new laws are a big hassle but do help the environment greatly and should be followed.

You can check our Fluids and Capacities section for oil filter numbers, etc.

The directions below are shown on a 4.6L engine, but are similar for the Corba and 3.8L. Check your owners manual for the actual differences between these engines.


1. Get your stang lifted onto ramps or jackstands and secure. Here we are using "Rhino Ramps" which work well. We put blocks behind the tires to prevent "roll back". Lift stang & secure.
2. Next, pop your hood and loosen the plastic "oil cap" in your engine compartment. Then put an oil drain pan underneath the oil drain hole under your stang! Now with a wrench, loosen the bolt on the side of the oil pan, and finger spin it off. When you remove this bolt, oil will come spilling out. Re-position the drain pan on the floor to make sure you catch all the oil. Make sure it's large enough to hold 6-7 quarts. Make sure it's not windy out or oil will blow everywhere (if your working outside). Let the oil drain out completely. This photo shows the oil already drained. Get your drain pan ready !
3. PUT A PLASTIC BAG across the entire area under the oil filter ! This will prevent oil from splashing all over your steering rack, sway bar, engine block, etc. Next loosen the oil filter with an oil filter wrench (remember "Rightie tightie, Lefty loosie"). Now you can get the oil filter wrench out and spin the old filter off by hand. Break loose old filter.
4. After you hand spin it off, make sure the filter falls and drains the oil onto the plastic bag AND that the drain pan on the floor catches this extra oil. You can move the plastic bag around to make sure it catches all the oil. Use plastic bag to keep stang clean.
5. After all the oil drains out, you can remove the oil filter, on the 4.6L (shown) you'll have to maneuver it out sideways toward the wheel well. Careful not to pull any fittings or clips loose. Manuver filter out.
6. Now CHECK FOR THE OLD GASKET that might have stuck from the old filter AND REMOVE IT IF IT'S THERE. You can look at the old filter to see if the rubber gasket came off with it or "feel for it". If you forget to do this and leave the old gasket in place you may develop an oil leak and the new filter won't seal properly ! We've seen veteran Mustang racers make this mistake!!! Don't make it yourself ! Check for the old gasket
7. Now take your new oil filter and "pre oil" the new rubber gasket with a little bit of new oil (using your finger or a rag). Lube it all the way around. This will ensure it goes on smoothly and that the new gasket won't break off during installation. Pre-lube new filter gasket
8. Now take the new oil filter and get it into position. Careful not to "cross tread" the new oil filter. Once you know it's screwing into place then screw it down. Once it has sealed up, then turn it 1 1/2 more turns. HAND TIGHTEN ONLY ! Do not use your oil filter wrench (unless you can't get a good grip on it). It's not good to over tighten the oil filter. Use all your hand strength only with no oil filter wrench unless you know what you are doing. install new oil filter
9. Replace the oil drain bolt on the oil pan (or your new oil will drain out!). Inspect your job, wipe up any oil that may have spilled onto any parts. Inspect your job
10. Now get out your oil funnel, if you don't have one, you can cut the bottom off a plastic oil can. This can act as a "fast flow" funnel because of it's large spout. Free Oil funnel
11. Using your oil funnel you can begin pouring in new oil through the hole in the plastic valve cover (marked with a cap labeled "oil"). Make sure you keep track of how many quarts you've put in ! The amount of oil depends on your stang model. Check our Fluids and Capacities section or read your owners manual about how much oil to put in. Pour in new oil

Carry an extra quart of oil with you in your stang incase you need to fill up on the road. A new 4.6L stang should not burn any oil whatsoever, but as it gets older you may find having to put in up to a half a quart between oil changes. If your "low oil" light comes on IT DOES NOT MEAN that you need to put in *more* oil in all cases. This "low oil" light can come on accidently by parking your stang at a slight left-right angle. So before you go and overfill your stang with oil (because of the "low oil" light), make sure you are on a flat level surface and check the oil level with the oil dip stick in the engine compartment. In many cases the "low oil" light will go out after letting your stang sit on a flat level surface for a few minutes and re-starting your engine.

We've seen this "low oil" light do more harm than good in brand new Mustangs, so please don't overfill your stang with oil ! Or you'll be burning oil for sure. In your new 4.6L Mustang always check the oil using the dipstick on a known flat level surface, pretend the "low oil" light does not exist. It's amazing how many people put oil in their stangs only because of this light and overfill their stangs (turning them into oil burners prematurely). We've seen many veteran Stang enthusiasts fall victim to this also. The dipstick and your oil pressure gauge are the only places you should be looking for oil conditions. You want to check to make sure your oil pressure is not too low while driving also.

Record the mileage when you changed your oil. Always record and log when you have performed service on your stang. This way you will know when it's time to change your oil again.

Use whatever your favorite oil is (Syntec, Mobil 1, whatever), Also use your favorite oil filter (fram, hard driver, motorcraft, whatever). Make sure you do not use an "detergent based oil" See your owners manual for more detailed information about oils for your particular Mustang engine.

You can also "prefill" your oil filter to insure you have oil for the first startup, though be careful not to spill it when installing the oil filter.

Changing your oil regularly will have your stang running great for many, many years.

Why you may want to change your own oil.

There are a few more notes that pretain particularly to the 4.6L stang that we feel we should mention here (4.6L GT & Cobra).

Look at the 4.6L oil pan photo below:

As you can see, the oil drain plug is quite high up on the side of the pan. This means that you may not get all the oil drained out of the 4.6L pan if you have both front tires up on a level surface. To ensure you get all the oil out you'll need to "tip" your stang to make sure all the oil gets out. We had an "oil siphon" we were going to include in our how-to (because we used ramps), but we took it out of our how-to at the last minute. We would suggest using a jack and stands and raise the passenger side of the stang higher up than the driver side to ensure all the dirty oil gets out.

We had a few readers email us about this and felt we should mention it as well.

This also means that any place you take your stang to get an oil change must also drain this area, ask them about how they change the oil. Some use siphon dipsticks and other devices.


Til next time... See ya on the street !

Back to

Mustangworld Shop

MUSTANGWORLD.COM, the Mustangworld crest logo above and MOLLERNET are registered trademarks of MoLLER DIGITAL / DiscMEDIA INC. Copyright © 1986 - 1998 MoLLER DIGITAL. Some web elements on this site are copyrighted and are being used with permission from their respective owners. MUSTANGWORLD web elements may not be "re-posted" on any website anywhere in the free world without permission from MoLLER DIGITAL INC. All original graphics are digitally watermarked to aid us in copyright enforcement.