Oil Change Mistakes - What NOT to Do When Changing Your Oil
A DIY oil change is one of the easiest services for a home mechanic to do on a vehicle. It’s also convenient since you don’t have to make an appointment and spend your time getting there. Plus, not paying for someone else’s labor makes it a great way to save money. However, as easy as changing your own oil can be, it can also be a bit tricky if you’re not an old hat at it.
Let’s take a look at some mistakes you want to avoid when changing your oil.
Not Preparing for Your Oil Change
At a lube shop, everything necessary to change oil is always in easy reach of the technicians. It’s a waste of their time if they have to look for each item during an oil change. Now, wasting some of your own time may not be a big deal, but there’s more to preparing for your oil change than just saving time.
Having everything you need when you start means you won’t have to run to a parts store mid-job. One great way to be prepared for an oil change is to have an oil change kit from Power Oil Center on hand. These oil changing kits have everything you need to change your oil.
Not Warming Up Your Engine Before Draining
Cold oil doesn’t flow very well. Not only will it take you a while to drain all the old oil out of your cold engine, but you probably won’t get all of it out either. Fix this mistake by letting your vehicle warm up for five to ten minutes until it’s at least halfway to normal operating temperature. Make sure to have your car running in a well-ventilated space to avoid any dangerous build-ups of exhaust! While it warms up, you can collect all your parts and tools and your oil change kit with a filter included from Power Oil Center.
Dropping the Oil Drain Plug Into the Drain Pan
This one is definitely a mistake, but even the most experienced oil changer might end up doing it. Sometimes it’s the temperature of the plug or the oil that causes you to drop it into the pan, but the plug is also small and slippery. The best way to keep a good grip on it is to apply a slight amount of upwards pressure as you thread it out. When you feel that it’s fully loose, you can quickly pull it away to let the oil drain. And don’t forget to make sure the crush washer comes off as well when you pull the drain plug out. This will be important later.
Overtightening the Drain Plug or Filter
This is a mistake that you’ll pay for on your next oil change. If you overtighten either the drain plug or oil filter, the expansion and cooling process will tighten both even further as you drive normally. By the time you get to your next oil change, you’re likely to have a very frustrating time trying to pry both off with normal amounts of force. For the drain plug, the best advice is to tighten it just finger tight and then give it an extra quarter turn. Your vehicle’s service manual might have specific instructions to torque it. For the oil filter, you should put it on hand tight just so that it’s not loose.
Forgetting to Replace the Drain Plug
This one will be immediate bad news as your new oil will start draining out shortly after you pour it in. The best way to avoid this wasteful mistake is to remind yourself to immediately replace the drain plug and crush washer after the oil has drained. Associate it with another action, like removing the drain pan with the old oil and then replacing the plug. Also, make sure you are using a new crush washer when you replace the drain plug and that you’ve properly disposed of the old one. If you use a new washer without removing the old one, it could result in a poor seal or leaking oil.
Not Changing Your Oil Filter
You can’t get away with using less oil during your oil change, so you might be tempted to save a few bucks by not changing your filter. This might be especially tempting if you’re changing the oil on a vehicle that doesn’t get driven very much. Bad idea.
Your oil filter does an incredible job filtering out sludge and contaminants from your engine. Even if you’ve only put a few thousand miles on your filter since its last change, it will still be dirty. There’s not much point in filtering clean motor oil through a dirty filter.
Adding Too Little or Too Much Oil
As long as you catch this mistake quickly, it shouldn’t be hard to fix. If you don’t have enough oil, your engine will run hot as it’s not being well-protected. This can obviously cause damage if allowed to continue.
Adding too much can cause your rear main seal to fail. The key to avoiding this mistake is to check the level of your oil via the dipstick after changing your oil. If you forgot to add an extra quart, then you can easily add it. If you added too much, then you’ll have to drain some out via the drain plug.
Forgetting to Reinstall the Engine Oil Fill Cap
This mistake is a big one. You’re looking at an engine bay covered in oil for one thing. If you start your vehicle without the engine oil fill cap, the oil will go absolutely everywhere.
Like the oil drain plug, it’s important to keep the engine oil cap in your line of sight and on your mind. As soon as you’ve added the proper number of quarts and checked the dipstick, put the cap back on.
Performing a DIY oil change is not difficult, but these are some common mistakes that are easy to avoid as long as you’re aware of what might happen if you make them. Get started on the right path to a DIY oil change with oil change kits from Power Oil Center. Our kits have everything you need to easily change your own oil.