Car Mechanics (UK) - - Engine Oil & Lubrication -

While oil chem­istry is im­mensely com­plex, chang­ing the oil is one of the most im­por­tant and Diy-friendly ex­er­cises that you can un­der­take and is a good place for a novice to start. Reg­u­lar oil changes are good for en­gines and many tech­ni­cians view many of­fi­cial oil change in­ter­vals as be­ing ex­ces­sively long. Ev­ery 10,000 miles or 12 months, which­ever comes first, tends to be a gen­eral rec­om­men­da­tion un­less your car-marker stip­u­lates a shorter fre­quency.

Be­fore start­ing work, re­search the quan­tity and spec­i­fi­ca­tion of the oil re­quired. Buy a good qual­ity oil fil­ter and re­place­ment sump drain seal.

One of the trick­i­est tasks on mod­ern cars is re­mov­ing the plas­tic un­der­tray that pro­tects the sump. Some cars of­fer more ac­ces­si­ble drain plugs (see inset).

Opin­ions dif­fer on whether, or not, an en­gine flush so­lu­tion should be used. If you would like to use one, fol­low the in­struc­tions on the bot­tle.

You may have to raise the car in or­der to ac­cess the un­der­side. Us­ing drive-on ramps, or jack­ing-up the car and sup­port­ing it on axle stands are the safest op­tions.

If the en­gine is cold, take the car for a short drive. A run of a few miles will heat the oil so that it can flow out more eas­ily.

The oil flow can in­crease sud­denly as the plug is re­moved. Di­rect the flow into a suit­able re­cep­ta­cle – be­spoke drain pans are de­signed for this pur­pose.

Undo, or re­move, the oil filler cap to help the old oil flow out more eas­ily. Wear­ing pro­tec­tive gloves, turn the sump nut anti-clock­wise, but be aware that oil can start to drip as soon as the plug is loos­ened.

Be pre­pared to catch any oil that may flow from the fil­ter as it is re­moved. These metal-bod­ied fil­ters can be de­posited for re­cy­cling at many house­hold tips.

Choose an ap­pro­pri­ate spin-on oil fil­ter re­moval tool. Ham­mer­ing a screw­driver through the fil­ter body to turn it is a messy and risky al­ter­na­tive.

Spin-on oil fil­ters can be rather stub­born to re­move, es­pe­cially if they have been over­tight­ened at the last ser­vice.

As the oil flow re­duces to a trickle, un­screw the en­gine oil fil­ter. The plas­tic, or alu­minium, top on car­tridge-type oil fil­ters should un­screw eas­ily.

While not ap­ply­ing throt­tle, start the en­gine and al­low it to idle for sev­eral min­utes – the oil pres­sure warn­ing light must ex­tin­guish promptly. Stop the en­gine and leave it for sev­eral min­utes so the oil level can sta­bilise. Wipe and dip the stick again and note the read­ing.

Check both the sump plug and oil fil­ter to en­gine mat­ing points for oil leaks. If oil stains/mists/ drops are ev­i­dent, they in­di­cate that leak­ing seals might be re­spon­si­ble.

Re­fit the un­der­tray and dis­pose of the used oil at a house­hold re­cy­cling cen­tre. Re­set the ser­vice in­di­ca­tor.

Never add oil over and above the quan­tity stated in the car spec­i­fi­ca­tions – over­fill­ing can dam­age the en­gine and be dan­ger­ous.

If you could not carry out Step 15, you may no­tice a dif­fer­ence in read­ings between those taken in Steps 19 and 21, due to the fil­ter be­ing filled with oil.

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