So, I was asked to do a "Changing your oil safely" writeup. Well, sort of. I made a comment about safety on another member's thread, and got this in return.
I would be glad if people like you stayed away from me and my threads. Shouldnt you be writing a sticky about the safe way to change oil?
So, here it is, as requested:
First off, get yourself some oil. This is what I use. I buy it at Walmart, `cause that's the cheapest.
(Note: I do NOT want to hear anything about which oil to use. You get to decide that yourself, there are a million threads on it. Please don't bring it into this thread.)
Now, that's only 5 quarts, and spec on our trucks says 6 quarts with filter change, so get an extra quart.
You'll need a filter, too. I get them two at a time, because my external transmission filter uses the same one, and I change that when I change my oil. I'll cover that when I get the "changing your transmission fluid and filter" thread done.
Here's the part number:
Note: The Motorcraft FL-1A fits all of our motors, unless you have the oil cooler that's sandwiched between the filter and the block on yours. Then you need a different, shorter filter. You'll need to find that part number yourself. (Edit: According to seemoremud, that part number is Motorcraft 820-S.)
As part of the safety regimen, I wear disposable gloves. Motor oil isn't the nicest thing to have on your skin, and gloves just keep everything cleaner. They also help with grip on oily stuff. These are from Harbor Freight, about $9 a box of 100.
I use this large oil drain pan. I think it holds something like 5 gallons of oil, and it has a spot to sit the filter to drain, and a grate to keep you from dropping your drain plug into the pan. That's a really nice feature, IMO. It also has a pour spout, so you can dump the oil out into jugs for recycling. I got it at Murray's, which is a Michigan chain like Schucks or Kragen.
First step, warm up the truck. Hot oil flows better than cold oil, and we want to get as much of the old oil out as possible, so get the engine up to operating temperature.
Once it's warmed up, shut it down, and remove the oil filler cap to vent some air into the crankcase, to allow the oil to drain as quickly as possible. I usually pull up the dipstick too, but I couldn't really tell you why.
Slide under the truck, and position your drain pan. Notice that it's not centered under the drain plug. This is because the oil will shoot sideways almost a foot when you take the plug out, and you need to make sure your pan extends far enough to catch it. (Edit: According to Shadofax's picture, some drain plugs point straight down, which will prevent the sideways shot mentioned above, but I'll bet it splashes pretty good.)
Edit: Along those lines, be sure to wear safety goggles to keep any splashed oil and rust and such out of your eyes. (I can't believe I forgot to mention that. Thanks for the reminder, amtarsha. I'm going to go with the excuse that since I always wear safety goggles when I'm under the truck, I just assumed everyone did. Yeah, that's it.)
Safety note: If you're going under the truck, make sure it's in park (or reverse if a stick), with the parking brake on, and I'll even chock a wheel. I don't lift it to do an oil change, because I don't need to, I fit fine. I'm 6'1", 280 pounds, so just about anyone should fit just fine, unless they are running really small tires (I run 31s). If you do need to lift it, use jackstands on a solid surface. If you're not on concrete, put a foot-square chunk of plywood under each jackstand, so they don't sink in. NEVER get under a vehicle held up by a jack. Jack seals can fail at any time, quickly or slowly. You *really* don't want to find yourself trapped under a slowly sinking vehicle, knowing that you can't survive the last 2 inches of drop that are coming. That would be a horrible way to go.
Throw a wrench on that drain plug. Mine happens to be a 15mm, I think. It's a standard right-hand thread.
After you break loose the plug, you should be able to set the wrench aside and turn it out by hand. As you get near the end of the bolt, it will begin leaking oil. Pressing in on the plug as you turn it out will slow that leak to a trickle, but still be careful not to get burned. (I've had it run down my sleeve before, which is annoying.)
When you have the plug ready to come out, get ready for a gusher. Keep your hands out of the way. This is also where the earlier positioning of the drain pan really matters. I usually drop the plug on the pan now, since it's fairly hot.
After the gush has completed, it'll dribble like this for a while. Notice that it's going backwards from the direction of the gusher, so you may have to adjust your pan placement. Let it drain for a while.
While it's draining, it's a good time to grease the front suspension. Attach your grease gun to every zirk fitting you can find, and pump until clean grease comes out of the boot. My truck only has zirks on the steering gear, 2 on the TREs and 2 more where the pitman arm connects and the weird TTB split drag link thingy is. My ball joints are all sealed, so no fittings there. YMMV.
This is the grease I was using when I took these pictures. I use Mobil 1 now.
Once the dribble has slowed or stopped, wipe the hole clean with a rag, clean off the drain plug, and put it back in. THIS IS AN IMPORTANT STEP! Not putting in the drain plug is a common newbie mistake, and causes forehead damage when you smack yourself while holding a wrench, not to mention it wastes oil. Don't crank the plug in super-tight, either. You don't need to, and you'll just strip out the threads in the oilpan, and that's no fun at all. Check in your Haynes manual, but I think 10 ft-lbs or so is plenty. You just want it not to leak, and not to back out on its own.
Once the plug is back in, you can get to changing the filter. It's most easily reached and manipulated from above, especially if you have a nice tire step like this.
Climbing up on the step, leaning over the engine (with my fender cover protecting the fender from the belt buckle of doom), you see this:
There's the filter, easy to get to now. Now we need to re-adjust the location of the drain pan. If you get back under and take a look at your front differential, you'll be able to see where the oil comes down and soaks it. Adjust your drain pan accordingly.
Then go back up top, reach in, and unscrew the filter. It's a standard right-hand thread.
If you can't turn it by hand, that means you put it on too tight last time, and you'll need to use an oil filter wrench. There are several kinds of oil filter wrenches, but unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of them in use, because I don't put my filters on that tightly. I'll try to get some shots of various types of wrenches and how to use them.
When you unscrew the filter, it's going to dump some oil onto your re-positioned drain pan (edit: according to Shadofax, a properly positioned rag can control the oil coming out of the filter, and keep things cleaner. I'll have to give that a try), and then you'll be able to turn it open-side up and remove it through the top of the engine compartment. (Careful, it'll have oil on it, and be slippery. Dropping it will make a big mess. Don't do that.) Draining it out into the pan is easy, then. The oil released when you unscrewed it will still make a bit of a mess, though. You'll want to wipe that up with a rag, and wipe the filter mount clean as well. (Edit: an important point that I missed, pointed out by coloranger, is that you need to make sure that the filter gasket came off with the old filter. If it sticks to the block and you install a new filter over it, it'll make a huge leak. Check that while you clean off the filter mount. If you do find it stuck on the filter mount, it probably means that you didn't oil the gasket the last time you changed the filter, or that you cranked it on way too tightly.)
Once you've got the old filter off and everything cleaned up, you need to prepare the gasket on the new filter with some new oil. Open up your jug (or one of your quarts) and get a bit of oil on the end of your finger. Smear that all over the gasket on the new filter. Make sure you cover every bit of it.
Then, just reach in and spin it back on. After the filter gasket contacts the filter mount, you need at most another quarter to half turn. NEVER USE AN OIL FILTER WRENCH TO INSTALL A FILTER, ONLY USE YOUR HAND! This is important! It only needs to go on tight enough not to leak.
Now you've got the truck completely drained, the plug back in, and a new filter in place, so you are ready to put a funnel in the oil fill and start filling it back up. Put 5 quarts in to start.
Once you've got 5 quarts in (and you've checked that you remembered to put the drain plug back in and a new filter on), go ahead and fire up the engine. After no more than 10 seconds, you should see oil pressure on your pressure gauge (or fancy idiot light, depending on the year of your Bronco).
(Note: If you DON'T get oil pressure after 10 seconds, shut down immediately and check your oil level, make sure you didn't screw something up. Try again, once you are certain that there is oil in the crank case. It should come up to pressure quickly.)
After you get good oil pressure, shut it down and let it sit for a few minutes while you check for leaks around the drain plug and filter, then check your oil level.
Top off the oil with the extra (sixth) quart that you bought. You might need the whole thing, you might not.
Yeah! You're done! Write down the mileage, date, and type of oil and filter in your maintenance log, and keep an eye out for leaks for the next few drives. Check your oil level every couple of drives, as well.
There are other options, too. Some people will dump a can of Seafoam in the crankcase 100 miles or so before they drop the oil, to help clean deposits out of the engine. I do that every now and then, but not every time. The synthetic oil keeps stuff surprisingly clean anyway.
This last picture is just to give an idea of how many gloves I go through trying to keep my camera clean while shooting this stuff.