Changing my own oil started as a result of not having the money to have a professional do the job. Here are some tips and suggestions that result from many years of me changing oil in a lot of different kinds of cars.
Buy Oil and Filters Only On Sale
Auto parts stores are always putting oil and filters on sale. If you plan well, the brands you are seeking will be discounted eventually. Watch out for these sales and purchase what is needed for several oil changes and you will save a lot of money, plus eliminate trips to the store.
Know What Kind of Oil You Need
Cars of different models and years have certain requirements. Look in your owners manual and note what oil grade is recommended. Look on the oil container and make sure it matches up.
Older cams use what are called flat tappets instead of the more modern roller tappets. The flat tappets require oil that contains zinc and phosphorus to keep down excessive wear. Modern cars with catalytic converters cannot use these oils since the zinc coats the converter and causes it to malfunction. These special oils are still available in most auto parts stores.
Buy the Right Tools
The best tool I have found to remove an array of oil filters is a strap wrench. They are adjustable and can be used for many other automotive repair tasks. Get one that is high quality where the rubber replacement strap can be purchased if it breaks or dry rots.
You will need the correct size closed end wrench or socket to fit the oil plug. Never use an adjustable wrench or locking pliers on the oil plug or you may be replacing it unnecessarily. Make sure that whatever type you use is long enough to have enough torque to make it easier to remove.
Other tools needed are common. Have ready a funnel, some clean up rags, an oil pan, and an old oil container to recycle the oil in.
Safely Level the Vehicle
It is important that the car is level. After warming the engine make sure it sits on a firm, level surface where the bottom is easily accessible. Put it in park or in gear, lock down the emergency brakes, and block the wheels.
Check the Dipstick Often
Coat the oil filter seal with some of the motor oil and hand tighten it, but do not over do it. Install the oil plug and do not over tighten. Add a little less motor oil than the manual calls for, install the oil cap and crank the vehicle so the oil can flow through the engine. Turn it off and let the oil settle for a few minutes.
Take several readings on the dipstick. Oil usually sticks to the side of the dipstick tube and false readings are common. Check it as many times as necessary, wiping the oil from the stick before reinserting. Put in more oil as needed, let settle, and check it again. Do on overfill or engine leaks could result and possibly engine damage.
Anyone with the right place, tools, and a do it yourself attitude can change their own oil just like a pro. With the tips I have provided you will probably do a better job than the professional.
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