Oil Change Tips & Tricks

There is no better way to prolong engine life and extend its efficiency than with regular oil changes.  If you show your car the love firsthand, these oil change tips and tricks make it less of a chore.

Where to begin.  Your owners manual will list the exact oil capacity for your engine, as well as specific weights of oil allowed or required.  Remember that if differentiated, you will always want to choose the quantity denoted “with oil filter,” since filter and oil are being changed at the same time.  

What you need.  Wrench or socket with extension, a torque wrench, an oil filter and enough oil for the fresh fill and for topping off later.  A drain pan, preferably a closed one, to collect the used engine oil.  Car ramps or jack stands to work under.  And of all things, a vinyl shower curtain liner.

Warm the engine.  Warm oil flows easier, and you want as much of it as possible.  A several mile drive, possibly to get the oil and supplies, will achieve this.

Keep it clean.  Spilled oil can soak into and stain your garage or driveway.  This is where the vinyl shower curtain liner comes in.  They're cheap, cover a large surface area and keep your back clean.  If you do spill some oil, the garage floor or driveway are safe.  Just wipe the liner.

Use a torque wrench.  Even if removing the oil filter drain plug was a sheer feat of strength, you will not want to retighten to oblivion.  Use a torque wrench with the manufacturer’s recommended setting to confirm the drain plug will not leak, yet can still be loosened by mere mortals.

Seal the deal.  A light coat of fresh oil around the new oil filter’s gasket will create a better seal and lessen the chance of leaks.

Keep spares.  Having a extra quart or two of oil in the trunk will be crucial if you suddenly find the level low but don’t have access to the exact brand and weight when it is needed.

Get rid of it.  If your city doesn’t have a program for accepting used motor oil, talk to a fleet manager.  Many commercial garage buildings use waste-oil heating systems, so with some reassurance you haven’t added another fluid to the mix, they should be willing to relieve you of your oil.
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