Oil change

My car odometer logs 260k kilometers plus some nickels and dimes, time was due to yet another oil change. This is the most simple maintenance operation you can do to your car, but is very common to be overlooked or overdone by car owners. It should be done according to your vehicle manual intervals and with the right oil specification and quantity. Its advisable to always change your oil filter with the oil, something that i don’t comply myself, because since the ECU reprogramming i shortened the oil change intervals (from 15k to 10k), and if the new oil is the same brand/viscosity of the old i keep the same filter between two oil changes (for 20k).

This is normally a cheap work to do at the shop, but i rather do this myself, because of several reasons:

  • This work is normally done by the workshop less qualified person
  • Sometimes they add too little or too much oil
  • Most places do this by suction through the oil level stick, so some impurities just remain at the carter
  • If done the correct way, through the carter, they have a tendency to over tight the drain screw (into the aluminum carter…)
  • I know for sure the stuff i am pouring in, witch is adequate (has the correct certification) for the engine, also i try to stick to the same brand and viscosity
  • Normally i take around 1h, witch is less than you usually wait at shop looking to some grease monkeys working at slow motion.
  • The economical savings (even if really not that much, they do add up with time)

So, first thing prior to get started, is to join everything you will need together:

  • Jack stands (well within your vehicle weight)
  • A jack
  • A red newspaper (ex: Expresso economy section)
  • Oil according to engine, for me its 4.2L of VW505.00 specs, normally BP 5000 (it depends on the promotional prices).
  • An oil catching pan
  • A rag (ex: old Lisbon Half Marathon t-shirt)
  • A wrench that works good on the drain screw (normally hex or monkey-wrench)
  • Some screwdrivers, Phillips, Torx, Flat, etc to remove the lower engine cover
  • Eye protection goggles
  • Funnel
  • Silicone joint tube (optional)
  • All purpose rubber compatible lubricant (optional)
  • Oil filter (not in pics cause i didn’t swapped it)
  • Oil filter wrench (not in pics cause i didn’t swapped the oil filter)

Lets put those hands to business, first and most important, park and break the car in a flat area (can be outside) and lift the front of your car and place it SECURELY on the jack stands. Do not improvise or try to be inventive in any way in this point, later if this goes bad and you happen to be under the car…. also don’t forget to put the eye protection goggles when working under the car, remember safety first.

Start to take the lower engine cover out with the appropriate screwdrivers . Afterward, locate the drain plug and cover the ground with the newspaper and place the oil catching pan, now remove the drain plug, and be careful so the the drain plug don’t fall to the pan…. let the old oil flush out, with the engine a bit warm the oil will flow much faster, so normally i do this half an hour after a drive.

While the oil is flushing you can get swap the oil filter, in the VW Golf is a cartridge that you can access from the top, with the filter wrench, there are some o-rings that you should also replace in the filter assembly when putting the new filter on.

Now, you should put the drain plug on again, many people always replace with a fresh one, but i only do this if it is getting old or threaded, if not i simply clean it of old sludge (with the rag) and put a tiny bit of silicone oil joint at the end, so it will seal nice and easy. Put it on, but DO NOT over tight, specially with an aluminium carter, it should be snug, just don’t over do it.

Now, its time to refill your engine with the new oil, use the correct quantity or put in small portions and check the oil level stick. About the oil, check the manual and make sure it has the needed specification for your engine and climate. The oil level should be between the max and min marker, not more nor less.

About the brand, there are tons and tons of information floating around, and everybody seems to have their own opinion or sympathy. My 2 cents, again don’t over do it,  use the manual specified oil of a major brand, and choose by some rational criteria, like price or by tech sheets (not just because someone told somebody that eared a person talking about a 1 zillion kilometers car that run only with oil xyz). If you want to upgrade the engine specified oil, fine, but i see so many folks pouring money in ultra high tech oils into some engines that would live happily with a 10W40…

At this point, usually i take advantage as the car is already in jack stands to lubricate the car silent blocks and rubber joints with an all purpose rubber compatible lubricant. Don’t forget to put the engine cover back in place and to clean everything, and to pack up your tools. Also put the old oil in the new oil container (now empty), and please do deliver it to recycling in a workshop (normally the same place where you bought the new oil).

Put the car back on the ground, get a cold beer and enjoy the next thousands kilometers.

About the fuel prices

The fuel prices in the latest weeks are going up, and up, and by now at the pump we are paying around 1.50 euros for 1 liter/gas and 1.30 for diesel and everybody complains because they are too high. Well, i think that the prices should be much higher (50% or more), and that the price difference between gas,diesel and LPG is pathetic (this can be a complete new subject for a complete new post one of these days).

So, why? The last time i checked i’m not masochist, and my daily commute of 50 kilometers would indeed become more expensive. But there is rationale to tax more and get the prices higher, for starter to maintain a stable price for a period of years. Let’s say the price is set a 2 euro/liter, this would be the price for 10 years or a legislature or a relevant time frame. The extra tax collected when the oil prices are runing low, would be used to mantain the price when the oil price goes skyrocket. This would take the fuel prices uncertainty out of equation, for entrepreneurs doing business plans, for big companies, for small companies, for families budgets, for individuals. This would push the adoption of new oil free technologies. This would punish much more consumers who make non-eco choices. This would also reduce unnecessary trips (aka Passeio dos Tristes), and reduce overall average driving speeds and style to more normal values (yes, going 140km/h+ at 50cm of the front vehicle bumper and flashing ligths is only considered normal here and in Morocco…), hence reducing accidents and road mortality.

About the adoption of new technologies, remember that the true kick-start of the industrial revolution, was not the steam engine invention, but the end of the slavery, that dried up a tremendous free work force source and pushed the adoption of the new technology. This is the human way of doing things, when pushed we tend to find a way (a better way) and move forward.

As JFK challenged a country to put some guys in the moon, back in the 60’s, and this is the inspiration for it:

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

I believe this generation should accept the challenge of shift from oil to clean energy resources, by the end of this decade, not because its easy, but because its hard. Is the right thing to do, for us, for the environment, for our long term wealth, health and safety.