Changing Oil in a Car

Changing Oil in a Car

Note: If you are not interested in providing instructions for changing engine oil, you may choose another topic that is equally complicated. (If you are unsure as to whether your topic is appropriate, ask me via email or in class.) For example, you could write instructions for how to make authentic Cajun gumbo, how to crochet a granny square, how to replace memory in your MacBook Pro, etc. Better yet, you may want to use this assignment as an opportunity to gain a better understanding of something you’re studying within your major.

This assignment is a combination of describing a process & giving instructions. Write a description of this process in the form of giving instruction to a car owner who has never changed his own oil before. Tell him how to do it.

This is a description of a minimally technical process. Steps in a process are numbered. Be careful to logically separate material instead of, for example, mixing instructions to perform steps of the process with advice about why to perform the process. Cautions precede the step.

This assignment benefits from illustrative graphics. As a writer you do not have to necessarily produce graphics for your document, but you do need to recognize when they are desirable. Indicate the kind of graphic needed & its location. For example, given the audience you have to write for, are readers likely to know what an oil filter wrench looks like or the location of an oil pan plug? Telling them to get an “oil filter wrench” is more frustrating than helpful, if they have no idea what it is. Failure to use visuals for this assignment will lower your grade.

Each visual should be numbered, labeled, & cited. For example:

Fig. 1: Oil drain plug (from

Begin by recognizing your audience. Don’t begin with a list of tools or products. Begin with an introduction in which you explain why the reader might want to perform the process. Write complete sentences, not fragments that half-express the step in the process. You may provide context & some persuasion, but the focus is on how to do it. Do not skip steps; be fully explicit. Number steps, use headers, & demonstrate a concern for document layout & design. (You will probably want to post this as an attachment.)

Here’s some ideas to get you started:


Oil doesn’t wear out, but it does pick up dirt and chemicals that will harm your engine. Comparatively large particles are trapped in the oil filter. You should change both the filter and oil every 3,000 — 5,000 miles. Cost of car, engine, etc.


longer engine life
better engine performance
no appointments, visits to the dealer, waiting around an ugly lounge
save money while using best quality items
no worries about whether the job was done right
do-it-yourself satisfaction


oil (various weights; synthetic; additives)
filter (specific model)
oil filter wrench
socket wrench
catch pan
funnel or oil spout
container for old oil


park, set parking brake
do not elevate the front end; the car may fall on you
wear old clothes, rags
no smoking
consider the temperature of the old oil
open the hood, locate things
place the catch pan
remove the oil pan drain plug
drain old oil (recycle)
remove the oil filter
install new oil filter; hand tighten, wrench tighten 1/2 turn (caution about tightening)
replace oil pan plug
add engine oil
wipe spilled oil
replace oil cap
run the engine for 1 minute
visually inspect for leaks, especially the oil filter
use dipstick to check oil level
recycle old oil