Lube story

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Editorial -

Don’t you just love the smell of oil? Not gear oil – that stinks and you can’t get rid of the smell from your hands or clothes for days! I’m talk­ing about en­gine oil. It smells good when it comes out of an en­gine, but smells even bet­ter when poured in fresh from a can.

I can’t be the only one that gets plea­sure from chang­ing en­gine oil. After all, chang­ing the oil in your mo­tor at given sched­ules (or be­fore sched­ule, as we like to rec­om­mend here at CM) is the best thing you can do for longevity of any in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gine.

On most ve­hi­cles, chang­ing the lube is a Diy-friendly task and costs are pretty low if you’re ser­vic­ing the ve­hi­cle your­self. While en­gine oil has risen in price over the years, you can get great deals if you shop around. Last year, I found a VW main agent sell­ing five litres of Quan­tum en­gine oil for £19.99 – that’s far cheaper than the nearby mo­tor fac­tors.

A prob­lem I have with chang­ing the oil on some mod­ern cars is get­ting them raised onto axle stands. My trol­ley jack usu­ally won’t fit un­der the front split­ter, so if I’m work­ing in a sin­gle garage I have to pre­car­i­ously lift the off­side be­hind the front wheel, raise it enough to get a house brick un­der the tyre, then move the jack to the front and try to raise it enough to get an­other house brick un­der the near­side front. Then I move the jack to a more cen­tral po­si­tion to lift the ve­hi­cle high enough to po­si­tion the sup­port­ing stands. How I wish I had the lux­ury of a garage pit like our con­trib­u­tor Rob Hawkins!

Work­ing on the drive­way might be eas­ier. I’ve just bought a used set of ad­justable metal ramps from a CM reader. Al­though they are old, they work a treat, but you have to be care­ful driv­ing onto them. A few days ago, I had to lift my neigh­bour’s Hyundai Amica with skinny 13in tyres and it went onto the ramps with ease, but big­ger size tyres might be prob­lem­atic. I’ll buy some of those mod­ern plas­tic ramps soon – they seem like the way for­ward. Do any of our read­ers use them?

Got a leak?

One an­noy­ance for any mo­torist is an en­gine oil leak. Some are easy to spot, some not so. They can be a real pain to track down and I bet some are just left to drip, with the oc­ca­sional top-up to keep things healthy.

I once had an en­gine oil leak on my VW Pas­sat petrol. It was drip­ping onto a hot down­pipe once ev­ery two min­utes – not good when you’re parked on the M25 with a steam­ing hot ex­haust! I thought I’d bet­ter get it fixed and con­cluded that the cam cover gas­ket must be leak­ing, so I or­dered a £30 re­place­ment. The job didn’t take long and the car was back run­ning – and drip­ping oil ev­ery two min­utes.

The next day, with the Pas­sat in my garage, armed with hand-held lamps, it took a while to track the source, which turned out to a tiny split in the cor­ner of the cam cover. Very pe­cu­liar. I ap­plied some in­dus­trial sealant to the split in the cover and all was good.

My neigh­bour’s Amica also had an oil leak, only more se­ri­ous than my Pas­sat. Here too, I sus­pected the cam cover gas­ket was leak­ing in one cor­ner, so or­dered a re­place­ment from Blue Print. The job was quite in­volved be­cause the air fil­ter hous­ing has to come off the top of the en­gine to fit the gas­ket, but the job went well and it fit­ted a treat. Only it was still leak­ing oil af­ter­wards.

I spent hours look­ing at it, only to come to the con­clu­sion that the camshaft po­si­tion sen­sor was leak­ing. It was only held on with a 10mm nut, so I tried re­plac­ing the oil seal – nope, still leak­ing. Per­haps the CPS had be­come por­ous? I or­dered a Blue Print re­place­ment, but when I went to fit it, I found the orig­i­nal CPS was hard-wired into the loom – no plug-and-play here. Not want­ing to leave the lady’s Hyundai stuck in my garage if I cut into the wrong wire, I ad­vised her to ask her lo­cal garage to check it out. They did a good job, wiring in the new sen­sor and adding some sealant to keep the wires in place.

Good job I love the smell of oil!

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