Author Topic: Mustachian car maintenance?  (Read 3170 times)

Geezus

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Mustachian car maintenance?
« on: March 29, 2013, 05:18:50 PM »
Hello everyone!

New reader here. I've been reading articles for a few months and just stumbled onto the forums. I'm nearing graduation from college, and I'm lucky enough to own (no lein) a 2012 focus that I purchased as a year-old used vehicle. My goal was to get a car after a good bit of the depreciation was already put on somebody else, and then run the thing into the ground.. (slowly) :). Here's my question: what is the mustachian routine for car maintenance? I'm bringing it in for it's first oil change/tire rotation combo soon, that seems fairly obvious. Just wondering what other preventative measures you all use to make sure you get the most life out of your vehicles?


Ozstache

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Re: Mustachian car maintenance?
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2013, 05:37:39 PM »
I follow the maintenance routine specified by the manufacturer and make the savings by doing them all myself. Modern cars have quite long service intervals (15000kms for my Ford Focus) and involve simple maintenance actions like oil/filter changes at set distance intervals and other fluids at set calendar intervals. I will get tyres balanced and aligned when I "feel" they need it, and rotate front to back to allow them all to wear out at around the same distance. Brakes are done on condition, but since I barely use them due to my mustachian driving techniques, that is a very rare event indeed. That's about it!
« Last Edit: March 29, 2013, 05:39:45 PM by Ozstache »

Faraday

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Re: Mustachian car maintenance?
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2013, 07:26:28 PM »
I've always done my own oil/filter and tire rotation. Let's talk about the oil change first:

Buy synthetic oil (the "viscosity" to buy is marked on the oil filler cap of the car, on top of the engine and poking through the decorative plastic shroud over the engine.) The filter can be found by finding your car in either a book, or a little LCD device with buttons along the sides. I'm speaking of Walmart in the US, but Pep Boys, Canadian Tire, any of these places sell both the oil and the filter AND do the oil change too.

This is a simple operation once you've done it - I've done my own vehicle (and others' vehicles) hundreds of times. However, if you have never changed oil/filter nor rotated tires yourself, you will require guidance to ensure you don't get killed: the operation requires access to the bottom of the car - that vehicle sits low enough to the ground that it needs to be propped up on something for you to get to the drain plug. SET YOUR BRAKE, PUT THE CAR IN GEAR (OR "P" IF AUTOMATIC) AND "CHOCK" THE REAR WHEELS WITH BRICKS IF YOU DECIDE TO CHANGE THE OIL YOURSELF. YOU CAN BE KILLED IF THE CAR IS NOT PROPERLY FIXED IN PLACE AND IT FALLS OR ROLLS ON YOU.  (Sorry for the yelling, but I thought it was merited. :-))

So in this case, what I would suggest is that if you "take the car in" for an oil change and tire rotation, find someone who will tutor you on how to do the job. Seek out a "Car Yoda" who is completely familiar with the process and can show you how. If you have a family member who is handy with their car and has done their own oil change, ask them to help. If you are a hot babe and don't know a drain plug from a dipstick, ask your SO. And if your SO can't help you, dump 'em and find someone who can. You'll be happier, believe me.

I'm betting your Ford uses 5W20. Mobil 1 or Castrol are good brands and meet manufacturer's requirements for the car. Don't cheap out - buy 4 or 5 quarts (whatever the owner's manual says in the "capacities" section in the index). 5 quarts of synthetic will run you about $6/quart, so you'll spend about $30 on synthetic oil. This is more than the "basic" oil change costs, and for good reason, you're buying premium oil that you can run for 10,000 miles safely instead of 3500 or 5000 miles.

Oil filters nowadays come in several "grades", and the better quality versions will specify how many miles you can run the filter. I prefer Purolator, but you can get a decent, high-end FRAM or BOSCH filter at Walmart. If you prefer, Ford sells a filter specifically for that car under the Motorcraft brand.

It's possible, if you have this work done at Walmart Auto Center (or any of the others I mention above), you can specify this same oil and filter as part of their "premium" oil change. Do it. Synthetic oil and a better filter are worth the money and you can run them twice as long as the cheap stuff.

Once you watch your Yoda change the oil, it's time to plan that future oil change. Estimate how many miles you'll put on your car in a week, sum that up till you reach 10,000 miles and mark that many weeks on the calendar. You may get a sticker from the oil change person on your windshield that says some mileage that's about 5,000 miles from now. That's OK, but they just want you to come back for that oil change sooner - they don't care about helping you use the oil and filter to it's complete duration.

For this future oil change, you will need five things:
1) The oil and filter, bought for a discount at the auto store of your choice.
2) You will need a way to raise the front of the car. Broke college students often straddle a curb. If you have a cool SO, he/she will have ramps you can use and will show you how to safely use them.
3) You will need to locate the oil drain plug and the oil filter.
4) The right size wrench to remove the drain plug. On most cars nowadays, it's a 14 or 17mm bolt in the bottom of the oilpan.
5) A "catch pan" of some kind to catch the oil. A "dishwashing tub" will work fine and can be had for a few bucks in the housewares department.
Some people recommend a new "crush washer": a copper ring around the bolt in the oilpan. I've successfully re-used the copper crush washer many times, but if you worry about losing it (it's possible - you'll see it for the first time when oil is pouring out of the oil pan into your washtub) then buy extras at the auto parts store where you get the oil.
And finally, nitrile gloves are a nice-to-have item. They keep your hands clean and you can freely get oil all over your hands when you wear them.

When you have the car up on a curb or ramps and you can see the drain plug, go under the car from the passenger's side. This provides an important advantage: if your drain bolt points toward the rear of the car, you can PULL the wrench toward you to loosen the bolt. Once the bolt has "given" just the slightest bit, put your oil catch pan under the car, loosen it about a turn or two with the wrench. You should now be able to remove the bolt with your hand. Imagine a black little "rainbow" formed by the oil when it begins to rush out of the car, anticipate where that "rainbow" will touch the ground and put your catchpan where the rainbow will go into it.  Remove the oil pan drain bolt and let the oil drain into your catch pan. Wait for it to stop draining, or to slow to a slight drip. Put the oil pan bolt back in.

Now find the filter, grab it with both hands and spin it off (lefty-loosey righty-tighty). If you can't remove it with your hands, there are oil filter wrenches for this job that can be bought from Walmart or Harbor Freight for less than $10. Beware: oil will spill from the filter when you loosen it. Move your catch pan over underneath it, spin it off. The oil will come gushing over the side, let it come on down, and when you get the filter off (oil is probably all over your gloved hands right now) tip it into the catchpan and let it drain. You will put the used filter into the box your new filter comes in, tie it up in a grocery bag and plan to discard it.

Once the old filter is off, wipe off your hands, pull out the new filter and wipe some old oil on the rubber seal around the "threaded end" of the filter. Then spin the filter back onto the oil filter attach point and spin it with your hands until it becomes tight. Keep turning it hand-tight as hard as you can. If you aren't confident you've gotten it tight enough, you can use the oil filter wrench to get it tighter, but don't go much more than 1/4 turn if you use the wrench, you can damage the filter if you turn it too hard.

Now, you've got a pan full of oil, an old filter the throw away, and a car with no oil in it. Get up, pop the hood, find the oil filler plug, and add however many quarts it says on the oil filler plug or in your owner's manual. For many cars, it's 4.2 or 4.8 quarts, so you'll have a little leftover out of 5 quarts. You keep that leftover in your trunk or hatch area for top-offs if needed.

Replace the oil filler cap, move your car off the ramps or curb, and you are done with the hard part. Now you've got a used filter and oil. You can recycle the used oil by taking it to an Advance Auto and pouring it into a big square tank they have for used oil. The oil filter will go in the trash, as far as I know, no one recycles those. (although they do have appreciable metal in them and if your local metal recycle allows them, you can do it that way too.

I can't say enough: if you've never done this before, get the guidance of someone who has. I taught my boys how to do it and they became minor celebrities at their respective colleges when their roommates found out they knew how to change oil. It's a good skill to have and will help you keep the car running right while you pursue badassity.

Next time: tire rotation.

Spork

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Re: Mustachian car maintenance?
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2013, 07:41:43 PM »
I'm assuming you have basic tools.... buy a Haynes or Chilton manual for your car... It'll cover almost everything.

With a modern car, you might want a basic code reader, too.  PC based code readers are even better... you can do more with them.

Faraday

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Re: Mustachian car maintenance?
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2015, 10:37:35 PM »
I'm assuming you have basic tools.... buy a Haynes or Chilton manual for your car... It'll cover almost everything.

With a modern car, you might want a basic code reader, too.  PC based code readers are even better... you can do more with them.

+1 to these comments. Wish I'd said buy the code reader - that's solid gold advice.
Also, alldatadiy.com for awesome access to vendor shop manuals!

JLee

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Re: Mustachian car maintenance?
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2015, 07:31:26 AM »
Code readers are cheap. $15-20 on Amazon.

NAPA has "Wix" brand oil filters, which are generally very well regarded. You may also be able to find someone local and willing to teach via an automotive tech forum. I spend a lot of time in the "Garage" subforum on forums.anandtech.com.

If anybody is in the Phoenix area and wants to learn, feel free to let me know.