Avoid These 12 Common Mistakes When Changing Your Own Oil
There are still do-it-yourselfers in every community. With times getting a little tougher recently, changing your own oil is still a cost effective way to keep vehicle maintenance costs down. No matter how many times you’ve changed your own oil, there are still simple mistakes that can cost you time and money. Don’t make these mistakes the next time you change your own oil:
1. You don’t prepare for your oil change.
At quick change oil shops, everything needed to complete an oil change is within an arm’s reach from the bottom of your vehicle’s engine. Walking wastes time, and for them time is money. When you’re changing your own oil, time may not be money. But wasting time finding tools or parts isn’t efficient. Have everything collected and ready to go when you’re ready to get started.
2. You didn’t warm your engine.
Oil doesn’t flow well when it’s cold. Draining oil out of a cold engine takes a long time. In addition to waiting around for the oil to drain, you’re not going to get some out that would have drained out if it was warm. Start your vehicle and allow it to run for 5 or 10 minutes until it is close to normal operating temperature. If you need something to do while you wait, collect your tools and parts (see missed item #1).
3. You drop the oil drain plug into the drain pan.
This one is pretty easy to do, especially if the drain plug is hot. A lot of times it’s not a matter of the temperature being too much, but the plug is small and hard to keep a solid grip on. The easiest way to keep a handle on the drain plug is to keep slight pressure pushing it into the drain pan as you’re threading it out of the pan. When you get to the last thread on the plug, you’ll feel it become loose and can then easily pull it away when you’re ready to drain the oil.
4. You overtighten the oil drain plug.
There is always a question of how tight is just right, but not too much. You never want the drain plug too loose as losing the drain plug and leaving your oil along the interstate isn’t fun. The best advice on the drain plug is to tighten it finger tight where the gasket touches the drain pan surface, then roughly a quarter turn on the drain plug. If you have a service manual for your vehicle, follow the torque specification for the drain plug per your manufacturer recommended torque.
5. You didn’t replace the drain plug gasket.
The type of gasket used on your vehicle oil pan drain plug may be a single use only, or reusable type. If your gasket is a thicker plastic, it may be reusable and you don’t have to replace it every time you change the oil. More manufacturers are choosing to use a copper washer or gasket that deforms when you tighten the drain plug. These copper washers are not designed to be reused, and they should be replaced at every oil change. They are usually inexpensive, and you can find them online or at your local auto parts store when you buy your AMSOIL and EA filter.
6. You decided not to replace the oil filter.
If you’ve ever felt the weight of a filter fresh out of the box, and one that has been cycled for thousands of miles, you know that the filter does an amazing job at screening contaminants and slush out of your engine. Saving a few dollars by not changing the filter could be one of the worst mistakes on this whole list. The filter keeps your engine oil clean and flowing through your engine offering maximum protection. Don’t change your engine oil without changing your filter, and only replace the filter with something quality like an AMSOIL EA Filter.
7. You left the old filter gasket behind when you took the engine oil filter off.
This mistake is more common than you may realize. The rubber gasket on the filter can create a bond between the mounting surface and the gasket over time. When the filter is removed, the gasket can stay attached to the engine, and may cause a leak if you put a new oil filter on with two gaskets (the old and the new). It’s easy to visually check the filter when you remove it from the engine, and then you’ll know if they gasket is still on the engine or not. Also check that your filter has a new gasket. It sounds odd, but they can come off in the box during shipping on a rare occasion. Putting on two gaskets will cause as much of a leak as no gasket at all.
8. You forgot to lube the new filter gasket.
When you spin the new filter on, the gasket contacts the engine surface first. The goal is to continue tightening the oil filter with a little more rotation, and a dry gasket tends to ripple or tear causing a small leak. You can simply dip your finger in a bottle of new engine oil to lightly cover the gasket in fresh oil.
9. You under or over-tightened the oil filter.
Tightening the oil filter is a lot times like the story of Goldilocks. The filter should not be too loose, too tight, but just about right. How do you know when you’re there? The easiest way to remember when to stop tightening is when the filter gasket makes contact with the engine surface to only turn one-quarter to one-half more rotation. Not tightening enough will allow a small leak to occur. Overtightening may or may not leak. You may not see a leak, but an over-tightened filter will be a bear to take off at the next oil change.
10. You added the wrong viscosity oil to your engine
Your engine is designed with certain bearing clearances and oil passage sizes that required a specific engine oil viscosity. If your vehicle manufacturer suggests a 5W30 oil, that means you should probably choose a 5W30 weight oil unless you know the reason to change to another viscosity. Choosing a different viscosity may change how well the oil protects your engine. Stick with what the manufacturer recommends, and for heaven sakes doesn’t add diesel engine oil in place of gasoline engine oil. Don’t ask. That’s a completely different story…
11. You added the wrong quantity of oil for your vehicle.
Adding the wrong quantity is thankfully an easy remedy if you catch it quickly. By adding too little oil, your engine will run hot as it’s not getting enough protection. If run long enough, it may cause the engine to fail. Adding the correct amount is an easy way to remedy this situation. Likewise, adding too much means you just need to drain out some of the oil via the drain plug. That may be easier written than done, but you can allow a little out at a time and check the level until correct for your engine.
Always remember that once you have added engine oil back into the engine, you want to run the engine for a couple minutes to check that the engine does have oil pressure on the gauge in the instrument cluster, and you don’t find any leaks from the drain plug or new oil filter. If everything looks good, turn the vehicle off and allow the engine oil to drain back down into the pan. That may 5-10 minutes. One last time, check the level of the engine oil now that it has filled the new oil filter full of fresh AMSOIL engine oil, and adjusted the final oil level accordingly.
12. You forgot to reinstall the engine oil fill cap.
It only takes a split second to be distracted and forget to put the oil fill cap back on. We heard a story of a first timer forgetting the cap on a brand new car. By the time they had realized their mistake, the complete engine bay was covered in oil. The hood insulation was dripping with oil, and it had worked its way into every far corner of the engine area. This is one simple mistake that can add hours of cleaning to your future, not to mention having to add extra oil back in to replace what was splashed out.
Performing your own engine oil change isn’t complicated, but there are common mistakes that can be made. Take care to avoid these mistakes and keep your vehicle running strong for miles to come. If you have questions on what oil viscosity you need, which type would be best, or want to add in a few maintenance items, we’re here to help! Contact us at Buy Great Oil and we’ll get you started in the right direction. We’re your local AMSOIL dealer, and are here to help you keep your vehicle and power equipment fully maintained.