DIY: Changing your engine oil

We owe it to our vehicles to routinely service them to ensure that we get the highest level of efficiency out of them. Regular service checks could save resources on easily avoidable issues. As essential as this aspect of vehicle ownership is, many people tend to downplay its significance. For others, their inability to service their vehicle stems from the uncertainty of when exactly to service it.

Simply put, mileage can be used to determine how frequently one should service their car. From a starting point of 4,000Km to 8,000Km, all fluids such as engine oil as well as brake and transmission fluids should be checked. Tire rotation and air filter inspection should also be a top priority. Within a range of 10,000Km and 25,000Km, servicing may extend to interior and exterior lights, wax coat, wiper blades and brake pads. Once a vehicle peaks 50,000Km and above, intensive inspections should cover the cooling system, suspension components, fuel filter, A/C system, tire treads, spark plug wires and alternator.

Of all components of a service checklist, an engine oil change is vital. Being the heart of a vehicle, the car engine is under constant duress and all its parts need to be properly lubricated using clean oil with good levels of viscosity.

For a simple engine oil change, you will require this short list of items: engine oil, an oil filter, an oil drain plug gasket, a jack, a spanner or socket to remove the drain plug, an oil catch pan, paper towels or rag, gloves and eye protection.

You can successfully change your vehicle’s engine oil by following this comprehensive procedure:

  • Take the vehicle for a short drive until it’s fully warmed up: It is better to change the oil when it is warm. Use caution as the oil will be hot and may cause burns.
  • Access the underside of the vehicle: If this requires lifting, chock the wheels and lift from the indicated jack points.
  • Place an adequately sized pan underneath to catch the oil: To do this, you will need to loosen the oil drain plug but do not completely remove it at once. Do so gently to avoid creating a mess.
  • Drain oil completely: It is worth noting that this will take a while. Regular gravity drain could take up to 45mins
  • Replace the drain plug with a fresh gasket: Tighten it by hand and then secure it with a slight turn of a spanner. If it is too tight, you might strip the oil pan threads, which could be an expensive repair.
  • Drain the remnant oil located in the oil filter: Move the catch pan beneath the oil filter. Next, remove the filter, which should contain a small amount of remnant oil.
  • Pour in fresh engine oil: After the oil finishes draining from the filter mount, put a small amount of fresh engine oil on the new filter’s rubber gasket.
  • Tighten the oil filter by hand: Do not use a wrench, you might over-tighten it. Refill the oil to the amount indicated in the manual. Overfilling could lead to total engine failure.
  • Perform final checks: Run the engine for a warm-up and check for leaks at the drain plug or filter. Turn the car off and wait for five minutes for the oil to settle back down into the oil pan. Add oil if needed and voila, you have accomplished changing your engine oil!

In summary, vehicle owners have to be deliberate about maintaining their vehicles on a timely basis and taking care of car engines should be a point of prime concern. It helps to consult your owner’s manual to identify the oil is the best fit for your engine because using the wrong oil can cause complex problems.  Furthermore, pay attention to unusual sounds like screeches because that may be the voice of your engine calling for help.

If you tried this, please provide feedback to enable us to know how well things turned out and challenge that you encountered in the process.

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