Home>Discussions>YARD & GARDEN>Mini Survey: Do you change your car's oil & filter yourself?
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dj1
Mini Survey: Do you change your car's oil & filter yourself?
dj1

I know it's a bit off subject, but do you change your car's oil & filter yourself?

Any good stories to share?

Any disaster stories to share?

Any funny stories to share?

How do you dispose used oil?

A. Spruce
Re: Mini Survey: Do you change your car's oil & filter yourself?
A. Spruce

Phhhfftt! Who doesn't? :p:cool:

Yep, been doing it myself since I was a knee high to a grasshopper. It's faster and easier to do it myself than to take it somewhere, and it usually includes rotating the tires, because Costco is such a pain in the ass too!

As for funny, interesting, or otherwise, stories about oil changes . . . uh, no, unless you count that one time at band camp . . . :p:cool:

Fencepost
Re: Mini Survey: Do you change your car's oil & filter yourself?
Fencepost

I don't. I just don't enjoy doing it. And for 30 bucks or so, paying someone else to do it is worth it to me. I don't have to get dirty, and I don't have to dispose of the oil. I have a trusted mechanic I use.

On the other hand, I do change the oil in my lawnmower, tractor, and other yard/garden/farm machinery. It's just not practical to have someone else do it.

My brother is a mechanic. He doesn't even change his own oil.

My dad always changed his own oil. My brother -- the mechanic -- had a girlfriend (who is now his wife) with a Chevy Citation. Dad changed the oil in that, for her. He concluded that the Citation was designed to leak oil, for the purpose of making sure everything was well lubed, otherwise you'd never get your arm in there to change the oil filter.

Back then, disposal was a lot easier. The "environment" hadn't been invented yet, so used motor oil could be "upcycled" for such purposes as preserving fenceposts, keeping the dust down on the unpaved county road, and controlling weeds. The spot out behind the shop where the used motor oil barrel was kept would probably qualify as a Superfund site.

dj1
Re: Mini Survey: Do you change your car's oil & filter yourself?
dj1

OK, a horror story:

Many years ago I had a tenant who was falling behind on his rent. I had to evict him. He contested, meaning, he was a professional dead beat.

To make a long story short, he moved out the night before the marshal was coming to evict him forcefully. When I arrived at the house the next morning, the marshal did the tenantless eviction, walked thru and when everything was clear asked me to change locks. Then he wished me good luck with the garage.

In the garage I found no less than 10 - 5 gallon paint buckets, filled with used oil - to the brim. You try moving them, they spilled oil. I had to scoop at least a quart from each container to avoid spills. I had a hell of a time to carry them out and transport them to my mechanic who was kind enough to accept 50 or 55 gallons, ase didn't have collection stations yet.

Later I found out from neighbors that my tenant was "so sweet" to change everybody's oil for half price.

dj1
Re: Mini Survey: Do you change your car's oil & filter yourself?
dj1

I do change my oil myself. It's faster (even my mechanic said - if you want it done in 10 minutes, DIY), cheaper and safer.

Safer? yes, cause I know what I'm doing. 10 minute oil change places hire goons who will damage your car. They also do these:
Wrong oil. How about the guy who put in transmission fluid in the oil pan?
Mis-threaded plug (causing leaks later and a $300 repair to the oil pan).
Wrong filter (when they don't have your filter).

But the main reason is up sell. They will try to harass you for additional and unnecessary work.

keith3267
Re: Mini Survey: Do you change your car's oil & filter yourself?
keith3267

I do my own and only once in 50+ years of DIY oil changes did I forget to put the drain plug back in and poured 4 quarts of synthetic oil into the oil pan. At least I checked the dip stick before starting the engine so no damage done, except to my wallet.

I did rent an apartment once where the previous tenant changed the oil in his motorcycle inside the apartment, and didn't use a drip pan. They cleaned the carpet as best they could, but you could still see the stains.

I spend a little time every day at the Car Talk web site, community page and I frequently see horror stories from people who had an oil change at a quicky lube place. When I get to the point that I can't do my own oil changes, I will use a garage with a certified mechanic, and I will check the dipstick before leaving. In fact, I'll chose a shop that lets me watch.

Mastercarpentry
Re: Mini Survey: Do you change your car's oil & filter yourself?
Mastercarpentry

If I can do it myself then I will, including engine rebuilds on down. Nobody touches my brakes but me. No personal horror stories but in the time I worked a a professional auto mechanic I saw plenty. Cars just a few years old with a rubber repair plug where the 'quick change' idiots stripped the oil pan threads was pretty commonplace, and of course the owners knew nothing about it. Over and under-filling wasn't unusual either, the idiots just dump in 4 or 5 quarts into every car without thinking. Wrong oil? They buy the stuff in bulk, and the bigger places may have it in underground tanks which nobody keeps track of. And many shops will refill their 'brand name' drums with economy-grade bulk so you never know what oil you're getting and often they don't either. We bought bulk oil in drums and filled old quart plastic cans with it, then sold it at quart prices for a slight profit but it was the same oil. The 'quickie' brand filters are crap- you use one and your car warranty is now voided. I've seen plenty that were wrenched on so tight we had to drive a screwdriver through them to get them off; even a properly-sized Snap-On strap wrench simply crushed the canister. And then there was the lady who stopped by in her new Honda, not a customer of ours but she saw our sign and pulled in because her oil light had just came on. She just had the oil changed a few miles up the road and the idiots hadn't tightened the filter- there was over 1/16" space between filter and engine block from it vibrating loose as she drove. We told her what had happened and that she should sue them for a new dealer-installed engine and that we'd be happy to testify about what we saw. A cop who was our customer happened by at that moment and saw it too, telling her the same thing. We tightened the filter for her and filled it with our oil gratis so she could get the car to the dealership for them to check it out. I went back into this business shortly after that so I don't know the outcome.

And I've seen plenty of other screw-ups coming from all kinds of mechanics from shade-tree to dealership, even from some ASC Certified ones. Most weren't patently unsafe but some were. There are a few mechanics I know who I trust my vehicles to (other than the brakes) and they do excellent work, but normally I can't wait on them so I DIY. Most things on a vehicle which require regular service aren't hard to DIY, giving you considerable cost savings. Most of that is predictable so you can order parts on the web for even more savings. Even most non-maintenance stuff gives you a warning before it fails (if you know what to look for) so it's equally DIY. An engine rebuild is relatively simple as long as you mind the details properly and have the right tools to do it with, and here the savings can run into thousands of dollars. That's why I can get 300K+ miles out of my vehicles for much less than half of what you're paying and usually half of that (1/4 your cost). Plus my vehicles are almost never out f service for one work day if that long. For that kind of reward a little grease and oil and dirt on me is well worth it. And I enjoy knowing I've done the job well when I'm done. Plus I've got lots of nice tools now courtesy of your tax dollars (my deductions). As long as I can do my own work I will, oil changes are just the tip of my iceberg!

Phil

ordjen
Re: Mini Survey: Do you change your car's oil & filter yourself?
ordjen

I go to the local quick change oil shop and get the basic service, turning down all the other service items they want to tack on the bill. I also don't trust them on anything other then a basic oil change. Don't want them messing with the transmission or anything else high tech. For those types of services, or anything necessary to keep the warrantee valid, I prefer to take it back to the dealer.

I know that a lot of the car manufacturers now say you can go extended miles between changes, but i still change the oil every 3000 miles or 3 months. It is cheap insurance if you want to spin the odometer around a couple times.

I don't enjoy messing around changing oil. When one factors in the price of the oil, having to go somewhere to buy it, and having to find somewhere to get rid of the old oil, not having oil stains on my driveway, the price of the oil change at the quick change shop sounds like a bargain!

A. Spruce
Re: Mini Survey: Do you change your car's oil & filter yourself?
A. Spruce

I think the take-away from this conversation is that if you are not competent to handle something yourself, you should employ a trusted person for the job. If I didn't do my own basic services I would take my vehicle to my trusted mechanic, and no one else. Ask yourself this, do you go to Super Cuts for your hair care needs or do you have a specific shop you frequent, if not a particular technician? When you need to go to the doctor, do you have your own GP or do you just run to the nearest Doc-In-A-Box? Why is your vehicle any different?

All too often folks go for "cheap and easy" over quality and care, and we all know where that usually ends . . . badly.

ordjen wrote:

I know that a lot of the car manufacturers now say you can go extended miles between changes, but i still change the oil every 3000 miles or 3 months. It is cheap insurance if you want to spin the odometer around a couple times.

This is true, and funny at the same time. While both oil and auto manufacturers are saying longer intervals between changes, why then, does the idiot light come on at 3000 miles telling you to change the oil? This is what my 02 GMC does. I too think that it's cheap insurance for a longer life engine, though I do consider how the vehicle is driven as a factor of oil change interval. The harder a vehicle is used, long run times (idling), heavy towing, heavy loads, long road trips, all this adds wear and tear to the engine and the oil, necessitating more frequent changes. However, if you only drive 20 to 30 miles a day to work, low load, low stress, then you're not subjecting the vehicle or the oil to all that much abuse, which means longer intervals between changes.

The same thing really applies to all the fluids in the vehicle, oil, coolant, transmission oil/fluid, differential, brake system, power steering, etc. Who thinks to change the brake or power steering fluid, yet these are two of the most heavily used systems in the vehicle, and they do degrade or become contaminated

dj1
Re: Mini Survey: Do you change your car's oil & filter yourself?
dj1

Trouble is, you can't even trust the dealer.

I know a guy who bought a new Civic. On his second oil change at the dealer, the guy put in TRANSMISSION FLUID. No kidding.

He had to take his case to court to get a new engine.

Mastercarpentry
Re: Mini Survey: Do you change your car's oil & filter yourself?
Mastercarpentry
A. Spruce wrote:

The harder a vehicle is used, long run times (idling), heavy towing, heavy loads, long road trips, all this adds wear and tear to the engine and the oil, necessitating more frequent changes. However, if you only drive 20 to 30 miles a day to work, low load, low stress, then you're not subjecting the vehicle or the oil to all that much abuse, which means longer intervals between changes.

You're only partially correct with this. As with nearly everything metal, atmospheric condensation happens on a daily basis and in an engine with all the dissimilar metals involved that causes electrolysis. Normal crankcase contaminants mixing with that condensation also create acids, which motor oil cis designed to protect against through additives in it. But once those additives are worked out of the oil you lose the protection, so time plays an important role here as well. Plus short trips may not warm the engine sufficiently to evaporate the condensation while longer trips do, thus adding to the problem. This is why the standard recommendation has always been 3 months or 3000 miles, whichever occurs first. With today's better additives you might stretch that to 6 months, but no oil can offer anti-acidic protection for longer than that including the synthetics :eek: The technology simply does not exist.

This is what the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) say, not just "facts" pulled out of thin air. Car manufacturers give longer intervals as a sales point- their only real interest is that you get through the warranty period without problems. Ditto for oil manufacturers who want you to buy their products. There's no magic in motor oils and it's long been well understood, even the synthetics (they go back to the 1940's!). There's a limit on how much of the anti-corrosion additives can be mixed in without loss of an oil's lubricating qualities so until better anti-corrosives can be found time will always be a factor in oil change schedules. Those same Engineers also state that for normal driving there is no appreciable benefit in using synthetic oil except in engines designed to use it. They've found that if you change your oil regularly, the engine will last just as long with mineral-based oil as it will with synthetics. Synthetics do offer slightly better protection from wear in extreme conditions (especially heat) and do offer slightly less friction (which is why racers use them) but unless you tow heavy loads in the desert you're not pushing into that territory. For most of us where synthetic oils are not manufacturer required they are a waste of money.

Also a waste of money are the so-called "high mileage" oils. They are hardly any different than regular oils which have all the additives maxxed out already and they can't do the job of lubrication any better or replace metal worn away. I'll likely catch some flack for saying all this but do your own research like I did and you'll find out what I've said is true. The most important part is to change your oil regularly on time and on mileage, whichever comes first.

Phil

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