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Mmmm, Oily! - Equiraptor's Journal
Mmmm, Oily!
Today I changed the engine oil in the MX-5. Believe it or not, I'd never done that before. Back in Austin, the sponsorship with Automotive Specialist meant they did the oil changes quite cheaply, so... Why should I bother? Here in Houston, they're a bit far away. I'd been putting off changing the oil in car. Finally, I decided I'd put it off long enough. I'm trying to learn more about working on the cars myself. I "helped" Bo change the oil in the TR7 (really, I just watched and provided a set of eyes that could read fine print), and decided that was something well within my ability to do.

I conveniently forgot that the Triumph had all the extra stuff stripped off of it, and reaching the oil filter in my NC would be a bit more challenging.

Still, this morning, I went to the local AutoZone. Rain was threatening, so even though it was a Saturday morning, the place was empty. Immediately, I was asked if I needed any help. I responded, "Well, sort of. I need to change my oil, and I haven't ever before." She showed me to the drain pans, helped me find the oil and filter, recommended a funnel, and tried to find a filter wrench that would work for the filter. Some of the filter wrenches fit over the end of the filter case, like a socket over a bolt. Something like this. In theory, at least, this would be the easiest to use, as it just becomes an oversize socket wrench. But none of this style fit on the filter case. So I got the style of "filter wrench" that's basically an oversized pipe wrench.

I get home with all the parts and pieces and get to work. A very light rain had started, so I put the car in the lean-to garage, at an angle, and put the front up on the jackstands. Under the car I crawl and I start bumbling around with the filter wrench. As I'm doing this, a thought occurs to me. I actually have no idea where the drain bolt is. I step inside to look at the guide I had looked at to see if it pointed out the appropriate bolt. It didn't. So I grabbed a flashlight (garage + clouds + under car = dim) and looked around. Finding the appropriate bolt was easy. So I went back to bumbling around with the filter wrench to see if I could loosen the filter. After a bit of trial, I refined my use of the wrench and managed to get the filter to turn. Yay, I'll be able to get that thing off. Time to drain out that old gunky oil! I grab the drain pan and set it so that one edge is directly under the bolt, with the rest of the pan out in the direction the oil will arc. I get the socket and start to loosen the bolt. I was surprised at how long the bolt managed to hold the oil in the car, but when the oil finally started to flow, it flowed. I was fairly quick with it, so I only got a bit of oil on my hand. I left it to drain for a bit. The stream eventually narrowed, and then turned to a dribble. At first, I figured I could be patient and just let it drip for a while. It wasn't long before I lost my patience and put the drain plug back in.

And then it was time for the filter. I wasn't looking forward to this. Yeah, I'd loosened the filter, but I was still a bit worried I wouldn't get it off. I was also worried I'd manage to get oil everywhere as I tried to get the filter out. Well, I got the filter off. It wasn't "easy," per se, but it worked. But oil started spewing before the filter was loose. The oil did get everywhere. I was up to my elbows in old engine oil. Yet again, I wandered off and let the oil drip for a bit. I eventually put the new oil filter on (putting some oil on the seal) and started wiping up the spilled oil. It was EVERYWHERE (on the car, only a few drops on the floor of the garage). I wiped it off of the various car parts. And I wiped it off the car. And I wiped it off the car. That stuff was EVERYWHERE. I'm sure there's still some on there. Still, I got enough off to allow me to find a leak around the oil filter, if one appeared. After making sure everything was tight, I poured in the engine oil. I still can't read the dip stick on this car, but I put in "less than 5 quarts" (5 quart jug) and there's definitely oil on the dipstick, so I figure it's within the "safe" range. I let the car sit for a bit and checked for leaks around the drain plug and the filter. I didn't find anything, so I put the car down and let it idle for a bit as I cleaned up. I checked for leaks again, and still didn't find anything. So I loaded the old oil up into the trunk (in that wonderful drain pan) and headed back to the AutoZone. I figured taking the oil back and picking up some lunch for me would make a good shake-down cruise. Drove the car gently at first, and gradually let myself drive it harder and harder, and all still seems well.

So that is that. Oil changed. One more maintenance activity done on my own car.
2 comments | Leave a comment
xulong From: xulong Date: April 11th, 2010 08:12 am (UTC) (Link)
oh god please tell me you didn't get a fram filter
ghewgill From: ghewgill Date: April 11th, 2010 09:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Cool! There's definitely a certain satisfaction that comes from doing even simple maintenance stuff on a complex piece of machinery.
2 comments | Leave a comment