The Labor Day Weekend provided a first for me as I did something I have never done, and never thought I could do -
eat a salad change my own oil! Granted, this is very basic to most folks but for me it is significant as I completely stupid when it comes to car repair. I do not know why that is, it may just me another trait that proves I am not a stereo typical "guy" along with not liking to fish, hunt, watch sports (save for my kids playing soccer), golf, drink, etc.
This endeavor started easily enough with my noticing it was about time to change the oil. I mentioned to my wife that I wished that I knew how to change my oil; and you can wish in one hand and sht in the other and everyone knows which will fill up faster. She said she knew how and would teach me and we planned to do it over Labor Day weekend. I argued that it was a holiday to honor those females who have had babies and gone through labor but she disagreed and said she would teach me anyway.
I wake up Saturday morning and kind of dreaded ruining the car by my own hand. My wife was asleep so I thought I'd get ready and make sure the kids had done their morning routine before waking her. Turns out she was not feeling well and I knew she would not want to go get all the necessary items. I had the awesome idea that I'd go and get all of it, have it set up and wake her up when it was time to actually do some work.
But what to get? I knew I'd needed oil, an oil filter and an oil filter wrench.....and that was about it. So I start where any logical person starts on their quest for answers and asked the person who they trust for accurate answers on difficult topics: Google.
I Googled various things, found some great info and even a video! w00t! The older two kids were busy with stuff so I took my youngest and ventured off to Wal-Mart.
We arrive and venture to the automotive department where the only items I have gotten from there previously is air fresheners. The first thing I want to find is that wrench but after enough trips up and down the same two aisles that my son Ethan asks, "Dad...what are we even looking for?" I decide we will have to get that item elsewhere. What else? Oh yeah, an oil filter!
I'm standing there, looking at the various oil filters kind of the way a dog looks at a ceiling fan. I was looking at the boxes seeing which would fit my car but none of them had that information. UGH! There was a little machine that would help you choose the correct spark plug (I think it was), why the heck don't they have one of those for oil filters! UGH! THAT'S JUST CRAZY! WHY WOULDN'T....oh... there IS one... right here in front of me no less. heh
So OK, I was about to select my first REAL item to get this done; I already had an oil pan and a funnel but those aren't as critical. Here we go, press a button to turn it on and... AHEM Press a button to turn it on and... WTF!? IT DOESN'T WORK! sigh All right, let's figure this out. Time to get some more help! I once again call upon the awesomeness of Google using my BlackBerry and after a couple of minutes I find the correct part number. HA! Take that stupid broken part selector!!
I walk around to the other aisle and get some oil and then onto get some jack stands. The floor jack looked like a good buy, but for $30? Eh... I have a jack I can use and save me some bucks. So I forgo that and WHAT'S THIS? The oil filter wrench! YAY! Now that we have all the items and some glue for our puzzle (unrelated project, lol) it's time to head home.
I start by putting the jack under the front of the car, kind of behind the license plate (on the frame of course). I'm turning the lame little crank on my jack that came with the car and am getting tired, and nowhere. The middle of the car is going up...but the tires are still on the pavement. DANG! I realize I will have to do one side at a time, so I crank the jack down and move it to the driver side. About halfway to the height the car needed to be for the jack stand, my shoulders are staging a protest and refuse to work as they are too tired. Yes, I'm a pansy with jacked up shoulders (see what I did there? hehe) that I got from HS football which eventually got me out of the Navy. So I decide to go get a floor jack. Work smarter, not harder I always say!
I stopped by O'Reiley's and saved $5 on one, and back home I went with a tool that nearly cost more than if I had taken my car to have its oil changed by someone. But as Jim Henson was my witness, I was determined to finish this!!
I pull the floor jack out of the box...wait. Speaking of Jim Henson, remember on the Muppet Movie when Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo were at the use car lot and they met "jack" and he said, "Jack not name! Jack job!" and he lifted the car? HA! Good times...but I digress. The papers and packaging are placed in the box as I assemble it together, and wheel it into place. I then go back to the box for the instructions as it is not working. :-|
Here we go, the side of the car is up so fast Bo and Luke Duke would be proud. After jack stand is in place, I move to the other side and do the same thing. At this point I wonder if I should wake my wife up OR... try to do it as much as I can before she wakes up? Survey says....OPTION TWO!
Under the car I go with my socket set and the oil pan. I recall the instructions online saying to run the car for about a minute because warm oil flows faster than cold, but to be ready for hot oil on your hand! I find the oil drain plug and find the correct socket. Hmm... this thing is on pretty tight. I reposition myself to get more leverage on the tool and try again. DANG! It took a couple more tries to realize that I was turning it the wrong way. sigh
OK, socket direction changed, body repositioned, and after a bit of work and almost pooping myself from straining, the bolt is loosened. I get it to where I can turn it by hand and I am preparing for the "hot" oil. I am kind of scared that it will be REALLY hot since I did some driving and online said to run it for about a minute. It gets looser...and looser... and looser.. and GASP!* Man, I've peed on myself and it was warmer than that (not recently), but the thought of it being hot made me pull the bolt back and nearly hit myself in the head with it. Once drained, I wipe the bolt off with some newspaper and tighten it back in place.
I position the pan to catch all the oil and marvel at my job so far. Now for the oil filter which is in a pretty open area. Oh, my car is a 2000 Chevy Malibu if that helps give you a visual. I get the oil filter wrench and look at how I'm going to maneuver it into place. I bought the circle strap like one, not the pliers one for those of you playing at home. I am wary of the engine being hot so I carefully slide it onto the filter. I think I bought the wrong one! AHH! This doesn't fit! I didn't see any other size though, where's my receipt!? Why don't they have a...oh wait, it's backwards. heh
Once I recalibrated the wrench into the proper locale (read: flipped it over) I start to loosen it enough that I can turn it with my hand. I remember online saying to move the oil pan to catch the oil that drips from there and pull it forward. It was about that time that I realize that I should have compared the new oil filter to the old one to make sure I got the correct one. I was worried not doing so was about to make me walk back to Wal-Mart to get a new one. But alas, I had got the right one. YAY!
After rubbing a bit of new oil on the seal of the new oil filter, it is in place. About that time, my wife comes outside and asks how it's going. I tell her I was almost done. She's shocked and apologizes and says she's impressed. If I had known that was going to happen, I would have rigged up "Grease Lightning" to start playing right then. But alas, I did not consult Miss Cleo and an opportunity to be cheesy was missed. :'-(
I put the new oil in, put the old oil in the bottle and took it to the recycling place to dispose of. When it was all said and done, this project cost me nearly $80 but it will not be as high next time as all I will have to buy is the oil and filter. Granted, I need to learn to change my fuel filter, but that's all in due time.
For now, I am happy I did not ruin the family car and found a way to save time and money.
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