How to change the oil on a Fiat 500

If you have your own vehicle then it makes sense to understand how to carry out basic maintenance tasks. The chances are that like most Fiat 500 owners you are aware of how to do simple jobs such as checking tyre pressures, how to monitor your car's oil level and how to top up the vehicle's windscreen washer fluid. However, there are many other simple jobs that can be completed with just a small amount of knowledge, some basic tools, time and patience. One of these is changing the oil in the engine of your Fiat 500. It’s job that can be completed in a relatively short space of time and without too much fuss. It's more involved than topping up the washer fluid, but with some guidance, it's a task that anyone can handle and does not require specialist knowledge.​​​

Be warned

While the actual process of changing a car's oil is not particularly technical, there are plenty of opportunities to make a real mess. Used engine oil is dirty, messy, sticky and toxic. Plus, once it's stained something it can be impossible to budge. A small amount of oil can create a big mess and be advised that a car's tank typically holds in the region of five litres worth of oil. So for starters, make sure you're not wearing your best suit while completing an oil change. Make sure you're working on a level surface and not a slope, and consider the weather conditions – it's no fun working in the rain and if it's windy then the opportunities for used engine oil to blow everywhere are endless.

What does engine oil actually do?

Before getting started, it is worth understanding what job engine oil actually performs. Oil is there to disperse heat and keep the internal parts of an engine lubricated. It also helps to prevent the formation of rust and stop contaminants and impurities from building up inside the engine. As a result of the role it plays, the oil in a car's engine will become contaminated over time and begin to work less effectively. If oil becomes sludgy and doesn't flow properly it can't coat the internal parts of the engine effectively, excessive engine wear will result and this could be costly.

Check your levels

The first thing to do before actually changing oil is to check the current level. Park your Fiat 500 on a level surface and test either when the engine is cold, or 5-10 minutes after it has been turned off. Look for the dipstick (it has a brightly coloured handle), remove it and clean off the oil with a rag before re-inserting it fully. Remove the dipstick once again and hold it horizontally to take a reading. If the amount of oil in the engine falls below the recommended level line then you will need to add some more. Consult your Fiat's handbook to discover the type of oil that's best suited to your engine.

Preparing for an oil change 

Prepare for an oil change by putting on some old clothes, finding a pair of disposable gloves and parking your vehicle in a location that's flat and where you'll be able to work in peace. You'll need to find a socket wrench and a container that's large enough to catch and hold the old oil you'll be replacing.

Removing the drainage plug 

A plug is used to ensure the car's oil remains in the system and you'll need to remove this in order to allow the old oil to drain away. Remember that the engine is likely to release a substantial amount of oil and you won't want to be caught out by having a container that's too small to hold it all. Removing the oil cap under the bonnet will also allow the oil to drain from the system at a faster rate. Consult your car's manual if you're not sure where it is or what it looks like. Once under your Fiat 500, use a socket wrench to turn the plug in an anti-clockwise direction. When it is loose enough to remove, finish unscrewing by hand and allow the oil to fill your container.

Re-insert the oil drainage plug

If you're not used to carrying out maintenance on your vehicle then it can be all too easy to forget the basics, such as remembering to reattach the drainage plug once you have emptied the engine of oil. Make sure you do though, otherwise any new oil you add is going to flow straight out again.

Replace the oil

Using your new supply of oil, top up the vehicle via the oil tank access point under the bonnet. A funnel will make the job of topping up your Fiat with new oil a lot quicker and substantially cleaner. They're only cheap and it will prove to be a worthwhile investment. Your Fiat 500's engine is able to accept a good few litres of oil, but carry out a dipstick test frequently to ensure you put in the correct amount.

Getting rid of your used oil

It is important to dispose of used engine oil responsibly. Do not pour it onto the ground or get rid of it down the drain. This is not only irresponsible, it's illegal. Even a small amount of oil can cause big environmental problems. Just five litres of used oil, an amount that can come from a car change, is enough to cover a lake the size of two football pitches. Transfer your used oil from the container it was caught in to a sealed, secure container so it can't be spilt and won't leak. Simply take the container to one of the many sites located all over the UK that accept used engine oil – just head over to the Oil Bank Line website where you can type in your postcode to find your nearest centre. 

Consult a professional

Remember, if you're unsure about carrying out an oil change yourself then don't worry. It's far better to turn to professionals to service your Fiat 500 than risk putting yourself in danger or damaging your vehicle.​​

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