The world is full of helpful conveniences. Vehicle service centers certainly fall into this category. Whenever a person needs scheduled work, such as an oil change, a work bay is usually available. It is entirely possible however, to perform an oil change by yourself. This requires a few tools, a suitable work area, and basic knowledge about the role oil plays in a vehicle.
Why do Vehicles Require Oil?
Car engines compose hundreds of complex moving parts. These parts work together to power motion. In doing so, this motion creates a tremendous amount of heat and friction. Oil serves as the lubrication between surfaces. It has a particular chemical composition that transfers heat. It also maintains viscosity in places where moving parts are likely to wear.
What is viscosity? This is a measurement of pressure created by a fluid being suspended between two objects. You might have heard that a battleship could float in a tablespoon of water if the water was evenly displaced at a microscopic level. On a simpler scale, the same is true for oil in an engine. It ensures smooth motion in a tight area. Without proper oil lubrication, a car’s engine parts would heat, bind together, and stop working.
Oil does lose its ability to lubricate over time. Natural and synthetic oils are rated by their ability to perform. Inadequate oil performance is responsible for a large percentage of engine repair issues. Some cars use up small amounts of oil. This causes an engine to not have enough oil to lubricate all of its parts. Even if the oil retains viscosity, low volume can also cause troubles.
Another issue with oil, is purity. Naturally, as oil slides over engine parts, it extracts particulates. Slowly, the oil will become saturated. Sludge-like oil does not lubricate parts well. All of these factors contribute to the need for regular oil changes.
The Basics of DIY Oil Changes
There are as many different engine configurations as vehicle models. It is always helpful to consult with your owner’s manual to locate points on an engine that are used to change the oil. Oil changes also require other tools including,
* Drain pans.
* Socket and ratchet sets.
* Wrenches and channel locks.
* New oil, oil filter, and rags for wiping.
First, the old oil must be drained. This is done by removing the engine’s oil pan plug and filter cover plate. Since gravity is responsible for draining, these are usually located on the underside of the engine. Once the majority of the oil is drained, use channel locks to remove the old oil filter. Be careful, a small amount of oil remains in suspension behind the filter. It could splash.
When the oil is completely drained, install the new filter. Firmly replace the pan plug and cover plate, but do not tighten them too much. Finally, locate the new oil port on the top of the engine. Pour the proper amount of new oil in the engine. Again, use your owner’s manual to discover which type and volume of oil to use. Use a legally established facility to dispose of the old oil and filter.
If you choose to change your own oil, it is a good idea to perform other vehicle checks at the same time. Each time you change your oil replace your air filter, top-off your coolant, check steering and transmission fluids, and look for other abnormalities under the hood. Also, be aware that you might need to add a little more oil after the first drive. New oil will cycle into the engine, and it could cause a low reading on the dipstick.
Changing the oil in your own vehicle is a very positive and enlightening experience. It really helps build driver confidence. Knowing the basics of the job is still helpful if you prefer having a service station perform oil changes. Professional maintenance technicians can provide you with information about oil performance in your vehicle. The most important thing is to maintain a regular oil change schedule. This is a major factor in preserving a reliable vehicle.