My F-150 is important to me. I don’t drive a lot during the colder months, but I need to ensure my vehicle is running optimally when I do drive. In contrast, Wendy’s commute is over 100kms a day, and her Mazda5 has high mileage. For this reason, her car requires service more frequently, to ensure it runs properly.
But the main reason why we want our vehicles running the best they possibly can? They carry the most valuable cargo: Our family. Besides our home, our vehicles are the second most expensive items we own. Why would we not take care of them?
Between June 28th and September 7th (75 days), the girls and I spent 70 of those days away from home, towing our travel trailer to various campgrounds across Southern Ontario and a few U.S. states. I worked remotely, so that my kids could have a memorable summer. Wendy joined us on weekends, and in one case, she joined us for two weeks (because we were too far away for a weekend stay).
With all the driving Wendy does to work and back, and all the traveling we do in the summer towing our travel trailer, we can’t afford to not take care of our vehicles.
Why get your oil changed?Two words – preventative maintenance. Like anything that moves (including yourself), your car requires servicing to make it work properly. Think of it like a check up at your doctor. He ensures everything in your body is running smoothly. If it is not, he/she prescribes you something that will help.
Preventative maintenance is regular maintenance performed on your vehicle, to lesson the likelihood of it breaking down. The idea is to maintain your vehicle while it is still working well, so that you don’t have unexpected breakdowns.
An oil change is the easiest, and one of the least expensive preventative maintenance services you can do for your vehicle, yet one of the most important.
This easy service allows the technician performing the service to see the underside of your vehicle. While performing the oil service, they can do a manual inspection of the rest of the underside to look for leaks, worn or broken parts, which if left untreated, can cause issues down the road. As well, they can inspect suspension, brakes, exhaust, transmission, transfer case, differential, and rust/corrosion of parts.
A vehicles oil should be changed every 5000kms (3000mi), or every 3 months. If a proper maintenance schedule is followed for your vehicle, the technicians can often point out minor issues before they become major problems. Think of an oil change technician as the first line of defence.
Quaker State: Just damn good oilQuaker State oils and products have been around for many years, and I have used them in many of my vehicles. Their products of high quality, and they have oils for every type of vehicle.
For this oil change service, we used Quaker State Advanced Durability 5W-20. This type of oil provides:
• 2x better protection than wear standards, set by top American and Japanese automotive manufacturers.
• Maintains required viscosity from start to finish, providing optimal protection.
• Provides corrosion protection against harmful acids generated by engine contaminants.
A perfect fit for Wendy’s Mazda5.
You can find Quaker State oils in the Automotive department at your local Walmart.
If you want to try and do it yourself without taking it to a mechanic, don’t fret. It’s not that tough, if you have the right equipment. If you don’t, I’ve outlined everything you will need to do it safely.
A step-by-step guide to changing your own oil
What you will need• Oil (check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for proper weight and type of oil)
• Oil Filter
• Oil drain pan
• A container to collect the oil runoff*
• Oil filter wrench
• Jack stands or ramps
• Hydraulic jack
• Wheel chocks**
• Safety glasses/goggles
• A pair of gloves
• Paper towel
* Note: Ensure you put the runoff motor oil into an old oil or milk container. Oil can be recycled at your local hazardous waste depot. For us in Halton, that is the Household Hazardous Waste Depot in Milton. Be sure to check your local Waste Facility for proper disposal instructions.
** Note: Some may think this is overkill. But when you are lying down under something as heavy as a car, are you willing to take a chance of it rolling if the emergency brake fails? Like a pair of safety goggles, it’s a small investment for your safety.
Warm up your engine!Make sure you run your vehicle for about 10 minutes. A good drive around your neighbourhood should do. Best not to leave it idling in your driveway. By working the engine for a bit, the oil will warm up and drain easily, bringing the engine sludge with it.
Determine where your oil filter is.This is a very important step that will help you later.
Ramps or Jacks?Either is good. If you decide to go with a hydraulic jack to lift your vehicle, ensure to secure your vehicle with jack stands. If you are using a ramp, have someone guide you up and direct you when to stop. I’ve seen too many instances of error in this step, it’s not worth doing this blindly.
Safety first!Whether you use jack stands or ramps, ensure you engage the parking brake, and put wheel chocks behind the wheels still on the ground. You never want that vehicle to roll away, especially with you under it. Then, put on your safety glasses / goggles.
Drain it.Put your gloves on. Place oil drain pan under the oil drain plug, and loosen the bolt with a wrench. Be very careful to keep your hands away from the stream of oil, as it will be very hot! It should take about 12-15 minutes max to drain the old oil.
Don’t forget the bolt!This is the easiest step to forget. Ensure you reattach the plug bolt, so the new oil you are about to put in your vehicle doesn’t drain out! After the assembly is properly put back together, you are ready to move on to the oil filter.
Replace the filter.Earlier, you located your oil filter. If the filter is accessible from under the vehicle, keep your vehicle either on the jack stands, or on the ramps. If it is accessible from under the hood, you can bring your vehicle down safely.
Loosen and remove your oil filter with the oil filter wrench, being careful not to drip any of the oil from inside. The filter can be disposed of at your local Household Hazardous Waste Depot.
Now grab your new oil filter, and rub some new oil on the oil filter’s seal with your fingers. Using your hands, fasten the new oil filter in place until it is snug, then give it another 3/4 turn. It is important to hand tighten, as the oil filter wrench will apply too much force and over-tighten, which you do not want.
RefillNow it’s time to refill the engine oil. Locate your oil cap under the hood. Insert a funnel into the opening, and fill with oil. Use the recommended weight and amount of oil that is listen in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.
Replace the oil cap.
Use your time wiselyYou have a few minutes before the next step, so this is a good time to begin cleanup. Put jack / ramps / jack stands away, and all tools.
Check the dipstickRemove the dipstick from your engine, wipe clean with a paper towel. Insert in again fully. Remove, and check level of oil. It should fall somewhere between the low and full marks on the dipstick.
While you are under the hood…Check your other liquid levels… washer fluid, anti-freeze, brake fluid, etc. Top them up if necessary. Check your hoses and belts for wear. Check the terminals of your battery, and clean. Check your air filter, and replace if dirty.
You are on your way!You’re good to go for another 5000kms (3000mi) or 3 months.
If you would like me to review your service, product, or travel destination, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on “the twitter” at @BigDaddyKreativ