How can you save money and do your own oil change?

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Answered by: Jerry, An Expert in the Regular Maintenance Category
Everyone is interested in saving money on car maintenance, so why not do your own oil change?

It's pretty easy!

*Get your manufacturer's recommended oil (be sure of the proper viscosity) and find out how much oil your car's crankcase holds.

*Start the engine and run it for a minute or two to make sure that oil has circulated (but not long enough to get hot)

*Locate the drain plug on the bottom of the oil pan and remove it, catching the waste oil in a pan.

*Find the oil filter and remove it, using a rag for extra grip if necessary. If the filter is especially stubborn, you may need a filter wrench (or just ram a screwdriver into it and use that to make the job easier). Catch waste oil in pan.

*With your finger, apply clean oil to the rubber gasket on the new oil filter. Fill the new filter with clean oil. Replace the filter, tightening only hand-tight. Do NOT use a wrench -- too much torque will distort the gasket and cause leaks.

*Replace drain plug and put fresh oil into the engine through the oil filler neck.

*Run the engine for a minute or two and check for any leaks.

Remember to dispose of the waste oil properly, taking it to a recycling center.

That's it -- that's how you do your own oil change!

In the 40s and 50s, cars didn't even use oil filters, detergent oils hadn't been invented yet, and manufacturing tolerances weren't nearly as tight, meaning that much more combustion byproducts and dirt would wind up in the car's crankcase. In those days, an engine had to be "de-coked" at about 50k miles, meaning that a mechanic would run it for a few minutes on a thin combination of oil and kerosene, breaking loose the soot and grime from internal parts like bearings. By 75k or 85k miles, the engine would usually need an overhaul. We've come a long way since then!

It's worth remembering here, that many manufacturers have now recommended synthetic motor oils. For some years, there was skepticism about synthetics, but the jury is in now. Synthetic motor oils outperform mineral based oils or synthetic blends in just about every respect. Synthetics can be an especially good choice for vehicles that already have high miles, since they have lower friction than mineral-based oils. Remember, though -- if you've switched to synthetic, you cannot switch back to mineral-based oils again without causing engine damage, nor can you add in a quart of conventional oil if you're low.

For mineral-based oils, the rule of thumb was always 3 months or 3000 miles between oil changes. That's been fairly well debunked -- mechanics now advise as long as 5000 mile intervals between changes, without causing any accumulation of gunk or engine damage. For synthetics, that interval can stretch as long as 15k to 20k miles. It's now conventional wisdom that the 3000 mile recommendation was put out there to sell more motor oil!

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