Oil change routines are integral to the proper functioning of an engine and the smooth operation of a vehicle. The routine can vary depending on the age of the vehicle, so it would be best to consult the owner’s manual if the frequency of oil change cannot be established. Regardless of the make and model of the vehicle, there are some oil change tips that have to be followed without exception.
Use the Dipstick
The dipstick is the simplest tool to use to check the quality and quantity of engine oil in the car. Regular use of the dipstick can help the vehicle owner to catch an oil leak in time. To use a dipstick, pull it out and wipe it off with a rag. Now, replace it and count to ten and pull it out again; check the quantity of oil from the mark on the dipstick and the quality by looking at the color of the fluid. Fresh engine oil is yellowish/brownish in color, but the grime and soot cause it to go black and it becomes thicker, pointing to the formation of sludge.
Getting the Right Oil for a Vehicle
Before changing the oil in a vehicle, it is imperative to ensure that the proper grade of engine oil is being used. There are a myriad of options available and the buyer’s choice will depend on the vehicle. If you are unsure, the models that the oil is compatible will often be found on the back of the bottle/tin. Generally, older cars use 10W-30 or 10W-40, while most new cars use 5W-30. If you live in a cold climate, then remember to use either semi or full synthetic oil for easier start-up when temperatures reach sub zero.
Non Detergent Oil and Clogged Filters are no Good
Oils contain a host of additives which play an integral role in keeping the engine free of pollutants and running well. Non-detergent oils are not meant for use in vehicles; they can only be used in lawn mowers, chain saws and other small motor powered engines. Although, non-detergent oils are significantly cheaper than their additive-added counterparts, using it in your vehicle can cause a lot of damage. When purchasing your oil, remember to buy an oil filter for your vehicle as well since a new one should be used with every oil change.
Warm Up the Car before Draining the Oil
One of the most effective oil change tips is that the engine has to be warm before changing the oil; to get it in the optimal condition for an oil change, let the vehicle run for 5 to 10 minutes to get the right temperature. Simply put the vehicle in idle and start the engine. This will circulate the oil throughout the engine, pulling out the grime and any loose particles which would otherwise be left back in the pan. However, the oil will be too hot for a change once the engine has been shut down, so allow it to cool a little for 10 to 20 minutes.
If this is your first time changing your vehicle’s oil, then keep in mind that this can be a messy job. Use cardboard under the engine bay to prevent oil from soaking into the ground or staining the tarmac, and keep a few rags nearby. Additionally, make sure to use an appropriate oil pan which provides a way to easily transfer the oil into a container for proper disposal. If your oil filter is seized onto the engine, it is possible to make use of a belt or a special oil filter removal tool. This might help to prevent burn injury too if your engine is still hot after the warm up.
- Be careful when removing and replacing the bolt under the engine so as not to strip the thread. This will require a professional to redrill a new hole which would be both expensive and impractical.
- Make sure that the car is jacked up evenly at the front so that all of the oil is removed from the engine. Many people choose to use a pair of small ramps for each of the front tires as opposed to jacks for this purpose.
- Sometimes it might be worth placing a bit of engine cleaner into the oil prior to draining it to ensure the removal of more stubborn grease and soot.
Changing the oil is a fairly easy and gratifying job for the home mechanic; however, remember to take care and do the job properly to prevent any unnecessary headaches.