a white fiat 500 car

The Full Guide to Changing Oil in a Fiat 500

There comes a point in every vehicle owner’s life where they realise that sometimes it’s just easier to do things yourself than paying for your local garage to do it for you. While most owners are more than capable of checking tyre pressures, oil levels and topping up washer fluid, some jobs, such as changing oil, can often leave driver’s nervous at the scale of the task at hand.

Changing oil, however, is not as technical or tricky as people may first think, yes it takes a bit more work than checking how much of it there is, but there’s not that much to it, just be aware that it can get messy. Very messy.

Motor oil being poured into an engine during an oil change

What oil does a Fiat 500 need?

For the most part, your 500 will run on 5w40 oil, although 5w30 will also be a usable option. These oils have less viscosity than their 10w30/10w40 counterparts, which means they have less resistance to deformation or, in layman’s terms, they’re not as thick. 5w30 is designed to run at temperatures ranging from -25°C right up to 25°C and offers a little better fuel efficiency than 5w40, but the latter is denser, meaning more profound lubrication during hot temperatures and will provide better lubrication for higher mileage vehicles.

Does a Fiat 500 need synthetic oil?

You’ll find that almost every technician will recommend you put fully synthetic oil into your Fiat 500, and while yes, it comes with a higher price tag than the conventional oils, this will not be the reason they’re suggesting it for you (although it does help a little). Synthetic oils are made from a base oil which are usually a higher quality than the conventional, less-refined base oils, and as such are less likely to oxidise, more chemically stable and will generally protect your engine and provide better performance than conventional oils or a synthetic blend.

How many quarts of oil does a Fiat 500 take?

Here in the UK, if you go hunting for bottles of oil by the quart, then chances are you’re going to come away slightly confused. A quart is the standard measurement of oil in the USA, but back home in Blighty we measure our bottles by the litre. Most Fiat 500s will take around five litres for a change, and you’ll find that most oils come in either one- or five-litre bottles. But don’t take our word as gospel and make sure you always check after you have completed a refill.

How to check the oil in a Fiat 500

Checking oil is a key stage in keeping on top of your car’s health and, luckily, is quite a simple thing to check. Before checking the levels of oil, make sure that you have an old rag or paper towel to hand, your car is on a flat surface and has been warmed up – although wait a few minutes after driving before opening the bonnet to avoid any burns. Once you’ve got the bonnet opened, find the dipstick, usually easily noticeable by the yellow handle. Pull the dipstick out, avoiding any hot areas of the engine, and wipe the dipstick clean. Once clean, put it back into the tube until it is fully reinserted. Pull the dipstick out again and check at the bottom to see where the oil comes up to on the markings – you will see a minimum and maximum mark, and your oil level should be between these two. Once completed, make sure you put the dipstick back before you close the bonnet. If you are in doubt about any stage of this, consult your owner’s manual.

How to change the oil in a Fiat 500

  • Preparation: Whereas checking oil is very simple and can be done with just a rag or two, you’ll need to make sure you get changed into some old clothes, or better yet, a set of overalls. You’ll also want to make sure you have a pair of disposable gloves and have parked somewhere that’s not only flat, but where you’ll be able to work away with minimal, if any, interruptions. You’ll also need a socket wrench and a container to catch your old oil, and it’s probably worth getting a container that’s one size bigger than you think you’ll need, just to be on the safe side.
  • Remove Drainage Plug: Before you get on your hands and knees, you may find it easier to remove the oil cap from under the bonnet, as this will help the oil drain faster. Now it’s time to get underneath the little Fiat, make sure you have both the wrench and your container to hand, and locate your drainage plug, using the owner’s manual if you’re not sure what to look for. Once you’re under the car, use a socket wrench to turn the plug in an anti-clockwise direction, continuing to turn until you can use your fingers for the final few rotations and then allow all of the oil to fill the container.
  • Put the plug back: This one might sound obvious, but if being under a car is alien to you, it can be an easy thing to forget. Make sure you put the plug back, though, otherwise you’ll just be pouring the new oil straight through the car and onto the floor.
  • Replace the oil: Now it’s time to restock your oil supply. Simply top up through the oil cap that you removed at the start of the process. A good, cheap, investment will be to buy a funnel as this not only increases the speed at which you’ll get the new oil in, but vastly minimises the likelihood of any unwanted spillage. While your Fiat can take approximately 5 litres of oil, it’s worth carrying out a dipstick test regularly to make sure there’s no chance of overfilling.
  • Dispose of the old oil: Oil disposal needs to be carried out correctly, and failure to do so isn’t only irresponsible, but illegal too. While you may think that your five-litre bottle of oil couldn’t do that much damage, it would be enough to cover a lake the size of two football pitches, so it’s important to make sure that you take adequate caution. Make sure the oil you caught is put into a sealed and secure container, ensuring there’s no chance of leaking or splitting at all and then take it to your nearest oil bank, which can be easily located on the Oil Bank Line website.

How to reset the change oil light on a Fiat 500

After you’ve changed your oil, your car won’t know that the change has been made, so you’ll need to manually reset the change oil warning message that has appeared on your dash. To do so is, luckily, quite a simple task and won’t have you rummaging around through your car’s settings screens. Simply turn the car on to power only, ensuring you don’t start the engine. Once all the lights have come on, press the accelerator pedal three times within five seconds and the warning light will instantly turn off.

For more guides to keep your motoring life as stress-free as possible, have a look through our Car Care guide, offering hints and tips on every element of keeping your car on the road for as long as possible. If, however, your Fiat is beyond the realms of helping and all that’s left is a one way trip to the scrap yard, then get in touch and we’ll get you the very best deal possible for your car.

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