How to Change the Oil on Your Imperial


Imperial Homepage -> Repair -> General Maintenance -> Oil Change

Also see Choosing the Right Oil for Your Imperial and Changing the Oil Filter

Items Needed:

1.  Car jack

2.  Your car's manual would be highly recommended

3.  Funnel

4.  Jack stands

5.  Around 5 quarts of motor oil

6.  Plastic gloves

7.  An oil drain pan and a plastic container — I use empty plastic milk containers.

8.  Rags and old clothes you don't mind getting oil on

9.  TOOLS! Ratchets, socket wrenches, and sockets


Park the car on a level surface, engage the parking brake and turn off the engine. If your car has a low clearance, raise it by driving it onto a ramp or by jacking it up and supporting it securely. Never get under a car that is supported only by a jack!

Once the car is safely raised, put the emergency brake ON! Believe me. I was changing oil and the parking brake wasn't on — the car shortly rolled back and trapped me underneath, thank god I'm as skinny as I am, otherwise I'd have no rib cage!

Open the hood and place the new oil and funnel on top of the engine or somewhere where you won't forget them! Crawl under the car once it is securely supported. Locate the oil drain plug on the underside of the engine, usually near the front center of the car (Consult your owner's manual for the exact location).

Place the oil drain pan under the plug and loosen the plug with a socket wrench. Remove the plug by hand. Make sure your pan or container is ready underneath because as soon as you remove the plug hot oil will begin to pour out! Let the oil drain into the pan. Hold onto the plug. Wipe off the drain plug and the plug opening when the oil finishes draining. Replace the drain plug gasket.

Reinstall the plug. Always start threading any bolts or screws by hand to prevent cross threading. Tighten with a wrench or socket. Be careful not to over tighten the plug otherwise you’ll have a hell of a time trying to get it off again to change your oil after 3000 miles.

Locate the oil filler cap on top of the engine. Remove it. Place the funnel in the opening and pour in the new oil. Typically, you will use 4 to 5 quarts of oil. Check your manual for the correct oil capacity. Replace the cap when you're finished. Run the engine for a minute, then check the dipstick. Add more oil if necessary. Check the area around the oil drain plug and the filter for oil leaks. Tighten the plug or oil filter if you find leakage. Use rags and newspapers to wipe away excess oil. Pour the used oil into a plastic container after the used oil cools.

Dispose the used oil properly: either bring it to a recycling center or an auto repair shop that can recycle it for you. Don't pour it down the sewer!

Question from Mark:

I changed the oil in my '68 yesterday and got to wondering. In the FSM, it says to change the oil every 3 months or 4000 miles, whichever comes first. I haven't put on 4000 miles on this car since I bought it, so I haven't changed the oil in 3 years, figuring, well, mileage is the key thing. But now I'm wondering if time itself is a factor. Will old oil go "bad" in the crankcase? Should you change your oil every 3 months REGARDLESS of how much you drive?


From Demetrios:

The reason why the FSM says 4000 or 3 months is in order to proctect the car from short trips. Remember, when the cars were new, oweners were using them as daily drivers, not as garage residing machines. If the driver drove 1 mile to the grocery store, then two miles to work, and back one mile home every day, the car may get very little mileage, but lots of gasoline and water in the oil. The situation would be even worst in cold weather. If you don't drive the car short trips, and you don't just start it every now and then without driving it, then its safe to leave the oil in there for a long time. If you have the bad habit of just starting the car without driving it, while the car is stored, may be you should change the oil before you reach the 4,000 miles. Finally, if you use synthetic and avoid short trips, you may be able to keep the oil in there for much longer periods.

From Bill:

I don't think that oil goes bad with age, but there is a potental problem when you have a car that is started often, but driven very little, for with a carb, gas can get into the oil and dilute it. This may cause the oil not to lubricate as it should, and cause excessive wear on engine parts. If you change your oil yourself, it is not very expensive or time consuming to do. Last week I had the oil changed in our Dodge Intrepid at one of those quick lube places, the service was fast but the price high, $37.00.

From Rich:

I change the oil on my Imperials twice a year spring/fall. I only put about 1,500 to 2,000 miles a year on each vehicle. Oil does break down with short runs, and most of the car shows/cruises that I go to are short drives. Oil/filters is very inexpensive insurance vs. motor problems.

From Brad:

For my cars, if I am not driving them regularly and I start them up periodically the I'll change the oil at least each year. If I intend to drive the car at all then it will get two oil changes, one in fall changing to winter oil and one in spring changing to summer oil. If the engine just sits and is never started, change the oil to fresh and run it just once to lube the engine then let it sit. Never running an engine for a long period of time is not the best idea for the seals though.

Changing the oil filter
(something you should do when you change the oil)
By DJ Diesel

You need:

Once you've drained the oil, unscrew the oil filter with the oil filter wrench. There are two kinds of these: An actual tool (that looks like a metal O with a handle... ask at an auto parts store, they'll know what you need) and an attachment that fits a ratchet. Basically you need to buy one that fits your car as each car has a different oil filter. Be careful with it because it's full of oil. Take the new oil filter and rub a little of the old oil on the gasket. Not too much, just enough to help it seal better. Screw in the new filter by hand and tighten with the wrench. Not too tight! Refill the oil.

This page last updated November 1, 2007.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club