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Oil Change Tips

Updated on January 19, 2010

Ten Do's and Don'ts

Changing the oil is usually not a major thing on a car. However, there are a few things that everyone should be aware of. Some of these things seem so very basic; you would think that everyone would know. But you would be wrong.

Here are ten things I recommend and ten things I do not recommend, when it comes to changing your own oil. However, I must tell you, that my years of experience come from much trial and error. I am not an expert and this is only my opinion, whatever that is worth.

Do List

  1. Park the car on a level surface.
  2. Make sure there are no fire ants or other pests near. (Or make sure you have things like aloe and hydrocortisone handy.)
  3. Shut the motor off first. This is very important and most manuals say very little about it. But I cannot stress the importance of shutting down the motor. You see, it needs time to cool off, first, and well just shut it off.
  4. Make sure you put something under the car to catch the old oil.
  5. And make sure it has no holes in it.
  6. Make sure that you put the drain plug back, BEFORE adding the new oil.
  7. And make sure that you do not over-tighten that drain plug.
  8. And make sure you put the new oil filter on BEFORE adding the oil.
  9. And make sure that you do not tighten the oil filter with a wrench. Unless of course you never plan on changing the oil again. You see, it will expand and may never come off. And you will have to get a hammer and drive something into it. And you will get discouraged and use foul language and the neighbors will not appreciate it. And that is not a good thing.
  10. Make sure you have plenty of kitty litter and new oil in case numbers 4 through 8 occur.

Do not List

  1. Do not change the oil without changing the oil filter. It is full of dirty, nasty, grimy, oil, which will leach back into your motor, grab it by the throat and………………………whew! Well you get the picture anyway.
  2. Never put new oil in without a funnel Oh sure, it looks like there is plenty of room, but when you tip up that oil bottle it will go, “glug, glug, splash, spill, glug, spill, glug, splash, glug, glug, spill, trickle, trickle, etc. And it will never stop trickling, so when the trickle slows down, go ahead and remove the empty bottle.
  3. Never let anyone sit in the car while you change the oil. Why do you think they are in there in the first place? I’ll tell you. They are waiting until you are distracted and they are going to blow the horn and you will bump your head on the hood and they will think it is so funny! But you will not see it as funny.
  4. Do not pour the oil into anything but the valve cover or designated motor oil area. You may not believe this, but I have seen oil in radiators, power steering units and places that it was never meant to be.
  5. Do not forget to replace the oil cap after you pour in the oil. This really can cause a fire. A service station attendant once did that and my mom’s 1962 Corvair was toast.
  6. Never expect to get done in just a few minutes. Something usually happens to slow down the process, so take your time, all will be fine.
  7. Do not change the oil in the dark with just a flashlight. Wait till daylight if possible, so you can actually see what you are doing. Does it really have to be done tonight? So, come on inside, have some dinner and do it in the morning.
  8. Never smoke while changing the oil. You will be around volatile fluids like gasoline and that is not usually a good idea. And ya know what, just don’t smoke…period.
  9. Do not substitute a roll of toilet paper (for the oil filter) unless you have a special adapter. Otherwise you will get oil all over everything and maybe lockup the motor. And yes, many years ago, you could use a roll of toilet paper. That is not a myth.
  10. Do not read this article if you want serious factual information. Remember, I warned you from the beginning, I am no expert.


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