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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