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How to Change the Oil in Your Ford Focus

BY: Andrew Giorgi
Father and Son sitting in the back of a Ford Focus hatchback

Ford may have recently decided to discontinue the Focus, but with over two decades since the first iteration was revealed to the world, you can bet plenty of them will be on the road for years to come. If you’re a Ford Focus owner, you’ll want to keep your pride and joy in top running condition for as long as possible, and regular maintenance is the best way to do just that.

Engine oil changes, in particular, are incredibly important and will no doubt be part of your manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule. The schedule in Ford Focus user manuals recommends an oil change every 7,500 miles traveled, but before you head to a professional mechanic, you might want to consider having a go yourself. With the right tools and a bit of know-how, almost anyone can carry out a DIY oil change.

Keep reading to find out how to perform a Ford Focus oil change for yourself. Note, however, that you should always consult a certified professional before attempting any vehicle modifications or maintenance tasks.

Gathering the Right Tools and Materials

It’s absolutely crucial that you carry out the job with the right tools and materials. Damage caused by poor workmanship will void any coverage your vehicle might have, so do things by the book to ensure you don’t run into any problems further down the line.

Always double-check your owner’s manual for the specific type and amount of motor oil required, but for most Ford models, you’ll need five quarts of 5W-20 oil. As well as this, you should gather:

  • An oil filter (that will fit your model year)
  • A funnel
  • An oil filter wrench
  • A car jack
  • Wheel chocks
  • A ratchet wrench
  • A drain pan

If you aren’t sure which oil filter will fit in your car, you can also find this information in your owner’s manual.

Creating a Safe Environment

Before you set to work, you should create a safe working environment. Even the most mundane mechanical task has its dangers, so it’s well worth avoiding any potential mishaps. Top safety suggestions include:

Park on level ground.

Jacking up your vehicle when it’s on uneven ground is a disaster waiting to happen. To prevent your car from rolling away while you’re underneath it, make sure to park on level ground and firmly engage your parking brake.

Wait for the engine to cool down.

This goes for any work you might be doing on your vehicle, particularly where motor oil is concerned. The engine can get seriously hot, and the oil within can sometimes reach over 250 degrees Fahrenheit during normal usage. If you’ve driven recently, wait a while until things cool down before you get to work. However, don’t wait too long, as slightly warm oil will be easier to drain.

Wear personal protective equipment (PPE).

Gloves are a must when dealing with vehicle fluids. Oil can cause allergic reactions for some people, but by ensuring none gets on your skin, you don’t have to worry. Goggles may seem excessive, but grab some if you have them—it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Use jack stands.

You should use a jack to raise your car off the ground but don’t rely on it to keep your car elevated. By placing a set of jack stands under your car, you can ensure it stays safely raised while you drain and replace the oil.

Draining the Old Oil

Draining the oil is the first major step, but you’ll need to get your car elevated before you can do that. Use ramps, or jack stands to raise the front of the vehicle, and chock the rear wheels to make sure it can’t go anywhere. Next, pop the hood and locate the oil filler cap. Rotate it by 1/4, turn it counterclockwise, and lift off the valve cover.

Now, you’re ready to start draining the old oil. To do this, locate the oil pan drain plug underneath the car. On most Ford Focus models, this will be a 13mm hex bolt facing towards the car’s rear — but don’t touch it just yet. First, place an oil drain pan underneath to catch the draining oil. This should be more towards the rear of the car, as the oil will come out in a stream.

Loosen the oil pan drain plug with a socket wrench until it comes off completely and the oil is draining out into the pan. While this is happening, make sure to watch out for shiny specks in the draining oil. Any metal flakes could mean there is a serious problem inside your engine.

If it’s been a particularly long time since your last oil change, or if you believe the oil in your car might be contaminated with another liquid, you might want to flush your car completely. You can do this easily by placing a funnel in your oil fill hole and pouring in a quart of fresh oil. Because this oil is effectively wasted, you might want to opt for the cheapest you can find and save the good stuff for when you refill.

Replacing the Oil Filter

Once you’re done draining, wipe off and replace the oil drain plug — making sure not to over-tighten it. Empty out your oil drain pan and move it under the old oil filter to start the filter replacement.

To remove the old oil filter, turn it counterclockwise. If it’s too tight to do so by hand, use your oil filter wrench. Oil will start running down the filter’s sides as you do this. You can either allow it to happen slowly or quickly remove the filter to speed things up. Either way, let the last bits of oil drain into the oil drain pan.

Take your new oil filter and (using gloves) apply a small amount of fresh oil to the rubber gasket. Any oil that gets on your skin should be cleaned immediately to prevent irritation. Finally, wipe off the oil filter mounting spot and install the new filter by rotating it clockwise until you can’t anymore.

Adding the New Oil

With the filter replaced, it’s time to refill with new oil. If you haven’t done so already, place a funnel in the fill hole and pour in five quarts of high-quality 5W-20 oil. When this is done, remove the funnel and replace it with the oil filler cap. Tighten by turning 1/4 clockwise. Use the dipstick to see if the oil is at the right level, and add more if necessary.

Start your car and let it run to check everything’s gone to plan. While it’s running, look underneath for any leaking oil. If you notice oil leaks, try tightening the drain plug again. However, Be careful not to overtighten it, as this can crack the oil pan.

Once you’re sure you’re all done, you can finally close the hood and lower your vehicle back down. As a precaution, you should take the time to check your oil levels over the next few weeks. Driving the car may reveal a leak you might have missed.

Cleanup and Disposal

Engine oil is a hazardous waste product that needs to be properly disposed of, but thankfully, it can be recycled.

Set the old filter in your oil drain pan with the gasket facing down to allow the oil to drain out of it, and leave for 12-24 hours. Then, gather the old oil and filter and take it to a recycling facility.

Most auto parts stores and repair shops will accept oil to be recycled at no charge to you. Some cities and counties also have a service where they will collect used oil and filters from your home. Earth911 is a great resource for finding recycling services near you, or you can also check out the American Petroleum Institute’s Recycle Oil website.

What Happens If You Don’t Change the Oil in Your Ford Focus?

It might be a slightly laborious process, but regularly changing your oil is well worth the effort. Overused oil can corrode your engine and cause it to overheat. If this goes on for too long, your engine could fail, leading to incredibly expensive repairs.

The time and money invested can prevent a lot of stress and inconvenience in the future, so sticking to your regular maintenance schedule is key.

The Best Protection for Any Vehicle

Preventative maintenance is the best course of action to avoid unexpected breakdowns, but unfortunately, all components fail eventually. When the worst inevitably happens, you can be certain it will be at the worst possible moment, leaving you stranded at the roadside and faced with an expensive repair bill. To combat the high cost of car ownership and save money, vehicle owners across America are investing in an extended vehicle warranty — and Endurance is your top choice.

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While most providers just cover auto repair bills, we go one step further. Our market-leading Advantage plan also includes up to $3,500 in annual maintenance fees. This includes up to three oil and filter changes, an engine diagnostic exam, an alignment check, state safety inspection services, and tire rotation. Special one-time services, such as brake pads/shoe replacement, cooling system maintenance, front or rear wiper blade set replacement, battery replacement, and scheduled service coverage, are also available.

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If you’d like to keep reading about all things automobile, we also have plenty more articles on our extended warranty blog, so head over and take a look before you leave.

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