Author Topic: DIY Oil Changes  (Read 10277 times)

Chaplin

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DIY Oil Changes
« on: June 23, 2014, 09:19:47 PM »
After years of thinking I should do my own oil changes, I finally did two this weekend. Back in the 1990's, when I first got a car, I thought that Mr. Lube was a great service. Now I find that it's slower, costs more, the customer service isn't as good, and there's constant upselling.

Both my car and my wife's car needed oil changes at the same time. The cost of an oil pan to catch the oil, a filter wrench and a funnel paid for themselves on the first change and the second only cost the oil and filter. Additionally, it prompted me to check my wife's car more closely than I have lately so I topped up the tires and checked them for wear.

What's silly about not having done my own oil changes is that they are easier than many things that I'm perfectly happy to tackle on my own. In addition to being lower cost, it turns out that it's faster than driving to Mr. Lube during my lunch break to have it done, especially doing two back-to-back.

I already had the sockets, and for my wife's car (2003 Mazda Protege) I needed tire stands which I happened to have (despite not using them for the 15 years I've carted them with me across the continent). For my Subaru, I just drove up on a pair of 2x6s and the extra inch was all I needed to be able to do the work quite comfortably. Even with the stands the Mazda is much less convenient.

As with most DIY tasks these days, there are many how-to sites and videos on YouTube. I like being able to check out two or three and combine the advice. That has worked well for many tasks.

b4u2

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2014, 06:39:58 AM »
Great job!
I have been changing my own for many years and always works out cheaper to DIY. You can recycle the oil and filters at most auto parts shops. I buy the oil in bulk (1 gal+ containers) and use those to put the old oil in and take it with me whenever I need parts or more oil.

ketchup

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2014, 08:45:14 AM »
Just did the oil in my car last weekend.  Comes out cheaper, I use better quality oil/filter, it's way faster, and I get to poke my head in and do a quick once-over of everything else under the hood. 

Also, I've heard some scary things about the quick-lube places.  My dad had a friend a number of years ago (with a BRAND NEW CAR, first oil change at 3,000 miles) have a quick-lube place drain out her old oil but forget to put in new oil.  Engine was totally shot.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2014, 09:09:44 AM »
I've done my own oil now for several years.  I'll admit that it's hard to pass up the $18 oil change deal that occasionally comes around, but even at that low price, it's faster, cheaper, and more convenient for me to do it myself.  I'm getting grubby on Saturdays anyway with yard work.

chaplin nailed an additional benefit on the head:  While I was changing the oil on my '95 corolla over the weekend, I found the source of a transmission leak that's been plaguing my car since the *last* oil change.  It's a simple repair (transmission output shaft seal) that would probably cost a couple hundred bucks at a shop but will take me about an hour and a $10 part.

Exflyboy

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2014, 09:27:09 AM »
Thats the first job I ever did.. Now I have rebuilt engines, transmissions, learned to spray paint, built two full sized airplanes and my own house.

It could be the thin end of the wedge...:)

Great job!.. Timing belt next..:)

Frank

eil

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2014, 09:50:03 AM »
I definitely applaud the DIY enthusiasm and believe me, I try to do all maintenance on my cars that I'm capable of doing myself. (I just replaced the rear brake shoes on my Protege, for instance.) While I certainly can change the oil in my car--and have in the past--this is the one thing I'm happy to farm out.

Once I take the time to go to the store and buy the oil, the oil filter, get my tools all set up, perform the actual oil change itself in the hot sun of my driveway, clean up, and then take the old oil in to be recycled, I've literally saved zero time and money. My local mechanic (not a quicky-lube place) does oil changes for $18 and 15 minutes. I can't compete with that.

Chaplin

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2014, 01:48:25 PM »
b4u2: I bought the big jugs too, makes sense. Coincidentally, both cars use the same filter, so I'll be looking for a deal online since it might make sense to buy 4 or 6.

eil: You mentioned a Protege: they're much more trouble. The Subaru was easy. I totally understand the convenience though: I used to like the oil change service, but my current location, working hours, etc. make the DIY version feel right for me.

frankh: Yes, timing belt would be next, except that I really to hope to have replaced both cars with a single electric before either needs another timing belt.

greenmimama

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2014, 03:48:16 PM »
How much do you save?

We used to do our own, but then one time we did the math with our Subaru and we were saving $1, that wasn't worth it but I haven't done the math lately for our Honda or Pontiac

ketchup

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2014, 03:54:40 PM »
My last oil change was $11.26 for oil and filter.  My car takes 3.5 quarts, so I bought four and have half a quart leftover for next time.  Quick-lube places around here are about $20-25 on the low end, so that's about $10 savings.  The big savings though is time.  Putting the gloves on to latching the toolbox shut is less than half an hour.  No need to drive anywhere or wait on anyone.  And if I want, I can do it at a weird time like 2am when everywhere is closed.

m8547

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2014, 09:13:16 PM »
I'm getting ready to change the oil and transmission fluid on my car. The oil change won't save me much this time, but I can do the ATF change for 1/4 of the cost of what a shop wants. It's even easier than the oil change! There's no filter, and the bolt is a 3/8" square drive, so it doesn't even need a socket. I can only imagine it's more expensive because people don't understand transmissions and because it isn't something that needs to be done all the time.

Between the time gathering supplies, changing the oil, taking the oil to recycle, and the cost of supplies I don't think I'll save any time or money. But I'll know it's done right.

guitar_stitch

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2014, 06:21:37 AM »
I preferred working on my own vehicles long before I was frugal.

When I bought my 2006 Honda Element with the extended powertrain warranty, I started taking it to the dealer for an oil change just in case something happened.  When that warranty expired and I came due for my next oil change, I was shocked to see how terrible a job the HONDA DEALERSHIP did on my last servicing.

1) Drain plug was covered with silicone to seal it.
2) Drain plug was torque so tight, I had to use a cheater bar to remove it.
3) The crush washer for the drain plug was completely missing.

okashira

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2014, 10:02:42 AM »
I have never had someone else change my oil.
My first car, a 1988 ford ranger, change the oil myself when I was 17.
Owned like 10 cars.

I did buy a 2008 VW Rabbit brand new (before MMM) that came with "free" maintnece for 36000 miles.
I was essentially forced to use to and they changed my oil. I was not happy about that and would always check on their work.
It was worth it because oil + filter is like $45 for the car. (only once a year, though, 10,000 miles.)

Joggernot

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2014, 10:33:39 AM »
Between the time gathering supplies, changing the oil, taking the oil to recycle, and the cost of supplies I don't think I'll save any time or money. But I'll know it's done right.
This is the reason I do my own oil changes.  I've had to replace enough drain plugs (stripped) and pans (destroyed because of excess torque) that I started doing my own to save the car.  The one time I took my car to Jiffy Lube (due to surgery I couldn't DIY) they were able to strip the pan and had to use a replacement larger plug to stop the leak.  Did they tell me?  Nope.  Sold the car after that because I suspected it would leak for ever after.

I did get smart and found a nice ball valve (Futomo) that allows me to easily drain oil without the socket/wrench.  No, I don't sell them, but I have used them for 20 years and have grown to "love" them and the time they save.  Every car I have owned since 1982 has had this valve installed on one of the first oil changes.  This way there is no way to strip the plug.
http://www.qwikvalve.com/?gclid=CLG33K24lb8CFTJo7AodC0EARA

zolotiyeruki

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2014, 10:51:31 PM »

I did get smart and found a nice ball valve (Futomo) that allows me to easily drain oil without the socket/wrench.  No, I don't sell them, but I have used them for 20 years and have grown to "love" them and the time they save.  Every car I have owned since 1982 has had this valve installed on one of the first oil changes.  This way there is no way to strip the plug.
http://www.qwikvalve.com/?gclid=CLG33K24lb8CFTJo7AodC0EARA
I love the idea--I'd just be terrified that the next bump I hit would take out the valve (if it's pointing down, as it would be on one of our cars).  Well, that, and the drain plug is never torqued too tight because *I'm* the one who puts it back on each time :)

@frankh - One of my dreams is to build my own aircraft someday.  Maybe you can teach me? :D

Greg

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2014, 09:05:32 AM »
Congratulations.

I've been doing my own oil changes for 29 years.  About 116 of them so far or more.  I once took my first car to a Jiffy Lube type place, and was up-sold an air filter I didn't need, and talked into the wrong oil (too thin).  Never again.

I enjoy maintenance.  I enjoy choosing the right grade oil, when available, and picking the correct filter, not too cheap but not crazy expensive.  I enjoy making my own little reminder sticker on white electrical tape.  I am happy to know that I didn't spill, and that the correct amount of oil was put in.  I take comfort in knowing the drain plug magnet is clean and that I didn't over-tighten it.  My newest vehicle is 26 years old and has an aluminum alloy pan, so I don't trust a "pit jockey" to not cross-thread the plug.

I collect the used oil (our family has more than one car) and filters until I have enough other things like recycling or a work-related visit and take it to our local dump that also has a place to recycle the oil and filters.

And as has been mentioned I can look around and see if anything else needs attention. On an older fleet there usually is something.  All of this has enough value to me that I wouldn't take it somewhere even if it was free.

malacca

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2014, 08:55:14 PM »
When I was young I changed my own oil. But I only changed the filter every other time (filters were expensive then).

I then lived overseas. My mechanic would come to my house on his scooter, pick up my vehicle, change the oil, wash the car, check the tires, etc. All for $16.

I am back in the USA now.

I might give it a try again. I like the Futomo valve idea.

My motivation is that I hate waiting. I have a shop near me that doesn't up sell. But they are very busy as a result. I find myself taking it there at 9 pm to get an oil change.

My question is what do you do with the old oil and filter?

Joggernot

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2014, 09:16:47 PM »
Put old oil in any plastic container that will hold it.

Take your old oil to any auto store (O'Reilly's, AutoZone, etc.) and they will take it.  You will get to complete a line on a their form telling them what type of oil you are giving them, and you will probably get your container back.  My O'Reilly's won't take the filter, so it goes in the trash.  Can't find a store that will take filters in this small town.

malacca

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #17 on: July 01, 2014, 09:15:56 AM »
Thanks Joggernot for the info. When I was in rural areas growing up everyone just put the oil back in the ground where it came from :)


Joggernot

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #18 on: July 01, 2014, 10:47:48 AM »
Thanks Joggernot for the info. When I was in rural areas growing up everyone just put the oil back in the ground where it came from :)
That was our only choice until the stores started recycling.  Used it for weed control, which wasn't very effective.  We finally had a service station agree to accept our oil back in the 70s, so they were quite forward looking at that time.

Glenstache

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #19 on: July 01, 2014, 06:01:22 PM »
+1 on the Fumoto valves. They don't save money, but they make the oil changes way faster and cleaner.

Most of the other fluid changes on cars are about the same level of difficulty once you know where all the various ports and drains are.

George_PA

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #20 on: July 01, 2014, 09:38:35 PM »
I agree that the biggest benefit is for piece of mind of doing it yourself just so that you know it is done right.

No one is going to care more about your vehicle than you.  I have heard stories about people taking their cars into a shady shop for minor jobs like oil changes and then the mechanic goes in and breaks something else in your car or put old parts in so that you will be at their shop within a week or two.  Thus they make repeat business for themselves.  If someone takes a small pin or knife to nick a rubber hose and put in a small leak, it is really difficult to tell whether that occurred naturally from driving or not.   

I don't know for sure if this is true, but there are stories floating around.
 

jaizan

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #21 on: July 02, 2014, 04:11:35 PM »
I've been driving for 30 years and have done every single oil change myself.

This is cheaper, more convenient and it's the only way I can be sure suitable oil has been put into the engine.

Boz86

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #22 on: July 03, 2014, 08:26:00 AM »
I don't know for sure if this is true, but there are stories floating around.

I am truly convinced a major automotive repair chain pulled a fast one on me when I was just out of college. No way to prove it now, but once I figured out what they'd done I became a lot less trusting of anyone -- and I never used that chain again.

Timmmy

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #23 on: July 03, 2014, 09:19:31 AM »
Living right next to the motor city (Detroit), not having any viable mass transit system and fairly obnoxious winter weather means that everyone here "has" to drive a car.  As a result, there are hundreds of oil change shops around here.  I can get someone else to change my oil in less than ten minutes, including checking tires and topping off all other fluids for $20-25 on my way to/from work. 

I literally pass 6 of them on my 3 mile journey to work. 

I do all of my own car repairs except oil changes.  Once you factor in driving to the parts store for oil, filter and disposal of used oil, it's cheaper and faster to let someone else do it. 

TrulyStashin

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #24 on: July 03, 2014, 11:20:15 AM »
A friend of mine is going to show me how to change the oil in my Prius this weekend.  Another friend is going to show me how to change the (flat) tire on the rear wheel of my bike.

It's Independence Day weekend, so both of those seem fitting.

forward

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #25 on: July 03, 2014, 01:45:10 PM »
A friend of mine is going to show me how to change the oil in my Prius this weekend.  Another friend is going to show me how to change the (flat) tire on the rear wheel of my bike.

It's Independence Day weekend, so both of those seem fitting.

Thats awesome Truly... Independence day indeed!  I think you will find both tasks to be a welcome adventure.  One thing about the Prius, when you do your final bit of filling and oil level checking, don't overfill the oil on a Prius.  So for that final 1/4 quart, put the car on level ground and check it once or twice as you add oil.  Apparently the Prius is unhappy if overfilled, poor mpg's etc.  Interestingly thats a common mistake made by many quick lube and other places, over and under filling, and most people never know it.  So you will be much better off doing it yourself.

CarDude

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #26 on: July 04, 2014, 12:24:26 AM »
Congratulations! I've changed mine for a while now, and it's always satisfying to start the engine and realize you did it yourself. :D

fixer-upper

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #27 on: July 04, 2014, 12:57:23 AM »
b4u2: I bought the big jugs too, makes sense. Coincidentally, both cars use the same filter, so I'll be looking for a deal online since it might make sense to buy 4 or 6.

Check fleetfilter.com. They carry the same wix filters as napa (same part number and everything), but they're about half the cost.  I stock up every couple years and usually manage to get free shipping with the larger purchase.

Nords

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #28 on: July 04, 2014, 11:09:41 PM »
A friend of mine is going to show me how to change the oil in my Prius this weekend. 
A Prius is the easiest oil change ever-- the filter is hanging straight down "right there" for you to reach up and grab.

The owner's manual may also show you how to change the engine air filter and the air conditioning system's cabin filter.  See if your friend can help you through that too.

fixer-upper

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #29 on: July 04, 2014, 11:27:12 PM »
Living right next to the motor city (Detroit), not having any viable mass transit system and fairly obnoxious winter weather means that everyone here "has" to drive a car.  As a result, there are hundreds of oil change shops around here.  I can get someone else to change my oil in less than ten minutes, including checking tires and topping off all other fluids for $20-25 on my way to/from work. 

I literally pass 6 of them on my 3 mile journey to work. 

I do all of my own car repairs except oil changes.  Once you factor in driving to the parts store for oil, filter and disposal of used oil, it's cheaper and faster to let someone else do it.

One thing to remember is that all oils and filters aren't created equal.  By going with the shops, you're guaranteeing that you'll get the cheapest supplies possible put into your car.  When doing things yourself, you can use better quality materials.

There's also the chance that your local shop is out of the correct weight of oil for your car.  In that case, do you think they'd turn you away, or just put in whatever they have on hand?

El Limon

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #30 on: July 05, 2014, 08:04:57 AM »
Next step is to learn to change your own brake pads. Also a money saver.

Timmmy

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #31 on: July 07, 2014, 08:04:06 AM »
Living right next to the motor city (Detroit), not having any viable mass transit system and fairly obnoxious winter weather means that everyone here "has" to drive a car.  As a result, there are hundreds of oil change shops around here.  I can get someone else to change my oil in less than ten minutes, including checking tires and topping off all other fluids for $20-25 on my way to/from work. 

I literally pass 6 of them on my 3 mile journey to work. 

I do all of my own car repairs except oil changes.  Once you factor in driving to the parts store for oil, filter and disposal of used oil, it's cheaper and faster to let someone else do it.

One thing to remember is that all oils and filters aren't created equal.  By going with the shops, you're guaranteeing that you'll get the cheapest supplies possible put into your car.  When doing things yourself, you can use better quality materials.

There's also the chance that your local shop is out of the correct weight of oil for your car.  In that case, do you think they'd turn you away, or just put in whatever they have on hand?

Well considering both my vehicles have 170K+ miles on them with the cheapest supplies possible, I'm perfectly ok with it.  The last car lasted 208k miles before we sold it in good running condition. 

I'm pretty sure you could put vegetable oil in my Kia and it would keep driving. 

m8547

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #32 on: July 07, 2014, 11:41:51 PM »
I just finished my oil and ATF change. It took about three hours and made a bit of a mess, but it wasn't too difficult overall.  Collecting the tools and supplies was the hardest part. The oil drain plug was a pain to remove. I only have a 8" ratchet and nothing to use for extra leverage. I tried hammering on it but that didn't work. I also tried helping it with the floor jack, but it didn't work like I thought it would. I ended up grinding the bevel of my socket flush to get a better grip on the bolt, then pulling as hard as I could, and it broke free. The crush washer was crushed to half the original thickness, and it was hard to get off the bolt because it was deformed so much. When I put the new crush washer on and tightened it to the torque spec it only crushed a little, so it was clearly over-tightened before.

The ATF was easier. The bolt was almost as tight (factory installed), but it ended up being easier to get off. Since there's no filter it's a lot less messy.

Joggernot

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #33 on: July 08, 2014, 06:47:58 AM »
I just finished my oil and ATF change. It took about three hours and made a bit of a mess, but it wasn't too difficult overall.  Collecting the tools and supplies was the hardest part. The oil drain plug was a pain to remove. I only have a 8" ratchet and nothing to use for extra leverage. I tried hammering on it but that didn't work. I also tried helping it with the floor jack, but it didn't work like I thought it would. I ended up grinding the bevel of my socket flush to get a better grip on the bolt, then pulling as hard as I could, and it broke free. The crush washer was crushed to half the original thickness, and it was hard to get off the bolt because it was deformed so much. When I put the new crush washer on and tightened it to the torque spec it only crushed a little, so it was clearly over-tightened before.

The ATF was easier. The bolt was almost as tight (factory installed), but it ended up being easier to get off. Since there's no filter it's a lot less messy.
You now know how all those oil pans get stripped by the quick change lube places.  If 10 ft-lb torque is spec, they'll use at least 20 ft-lb.  My worst case was spec was 26 in-lb and they tightened it to 26 ft-lb.  Stripped it out very easily.

There is probably a filter inside the AT, but you don't need to worry about that.

Nords

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #34 on: July 14, 2014, 06:48:40 PM »
You now know how all those oil pans get stripped by the quick change lube places.  If 10 ft-lb torque is spec, they'll use at least 20 ft-lb.  My worst case was spec was 26 in-lb and they tightened it to 26 ft-lb.  Stripped it out very easily.
And that's another vote for the gizmos which replace the crankcase drain plug with their special easy-drain fittings... my daughter's 15-year-old Honda CR-V couldn't take much more torque abuse on its crankcase drain without tapping out a larger drain plug or replacing the entire pan.

gimp

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Re: DIY Oil Changes
« Reply #35 on: July 14, 2014, 08:45:53 PM »
I did get smart and found a nice ball valve (Futomo) that allows me to easily drain oil without the socket/wrench.  No, I don't sell them, but I have used them for 20 years and have grown to "love" them and the time they save.  Every car I have owned since 1982 has had this valve installed on one of the first oil changes.  This way there is no way to strip the plug.
http://www.qwikvalve.com/?gclid=CLG33K24lb8CFTJo7AodC0EARA

Thanks for the tip. Much appreciated.