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Monday, February 2, 2009

How often do you change the car oil?

    Engine oil is one of the most important components of the car since it helps in the smooth running of the engine. Changing the engine oil as well as the oil filter on a regular basis helps in extending the engine life and ensures smooth operation especially during the hot summer months. Its main function is to stop all the metal surfaces in your engine from grinding together and damaging themselves from friction while transferring heat away from the combustion cycle. Engine oil must also be able to hold all the muck and grime by product of combustion in suspension. It helps to clean the engine and keeps the moving parts coated in oil.

    Today, I finally went in for an oil change after what seemed like many months. I really didn’t really want to leave the car at the mercy of the mechanic, since I was unsure of what kind of bill I might get when I finally return to collect my car. So, I stuck around and waited for my turn to come up. It finally came after about 30 minutes of wait. The mechanic jacked up the car on the side of the road and drained the oil into an old oil pan. He screwed the drain plug back in, screwed in a new oil filter and finally poured new Castrol oil in. The old oil in the pan was jet black in color.

    I told him that due to my busy schedule, I am not always able to come in when I should. Could he give me a few tips so that I can do this oil change thing myself if I am not able to come to his shop. He managed to guide me through the whole works and I have listed below as much as I could remember.

    Before you start, you'll need the following:

    New oil
    New filter
    A drain pan
    An oil funnel
    Few rags
    A socket wrench set
    An oil filter remover

    Start your engine and let it run for a few short while to heat up the engine oil.

    Turn the engine off and leave the engine to stand for a few minutes. When you started it, it heated the oil but it also filled the oil channels. You want the oil to drain back to the sump completely so you can drain the old oil out fully.

    Take the dipstick out or loosen it off and break the seal where it plugs into the engine dipstick tube. This prevents a vacuum building up behind the oil when you start to drain it. Wipe the old oil off and keep it aside for now.

    Get your drain pan and stick it directly under the sump. Make sure it's sitting under the sump drain plug or else you will end up making a mess.

    Use your socket wrench to loosen the nut just slightly. Once it's loose, remove it by hand. Let the oil run out of the engine and into the drain pan.

    After the oil is completely drained, use the oil filter remover to remove the old oil filter and install a new one.

    Put the nut back into its place; tighten by hand initially and finally by the wrench until fully tight.

    Finally pour the required amount of oil into the engine. Close the oil lid.
    Check all the points and if no leakage found. Close the hood, rev up the engine and check for leaks once more. If none found, then it was a success.

    I try to take my car to the service station change my car oil as frequently as I can. However, I am not able to change it as per the recommended schedule given by the company. The reason for this is that sometimes I have such a busy schedule or some extra work pops up, due to which I either just forget or don’t have that extra time. I do try to keep a track of all maintenance done on my vehicle but again I often do forget about going in for regular maintenance. I plan to correct this soon because I know that regular maintenance and oil changes are good for extending the life of the engine. But, one thing which I have learned is that it’s important to have regular maintenance schedule of your vehicle in order to extend its life. There will be less wear and tear. The car will not break down all of a sudden some place.

    On an ending note, I must ask you the following questions:
    How often do you change your car oil? Do you change it as per the recommended schedule given by the company? Do you keep a regular track of all maintenance done on your vehicle? Do you religiously follow this schedule or do you sometimes forget about it?