Car Mechanics (UK)
Oil & filter
In the first of our beginners’ guide to engine servicing, Rob Hawkins looks at changing the oil and filter.
One of the most important ways to look after your vehicle’s engine is to regularly renew the oil and filter. The work involved can be quite messy and time-consuming, but once you get used to the procedures it is a straightforward maintenance task. Plus. it’s rewarding to know that you’re looking after the engine.
Engine oil is becoming a minefield of terminology, clouded in abbreviations and emissions standards, but it’s essential to use the recommended type for your vehicle’s engine. For instance, some engines with variable valve timing require a specific type of oil to ensure the oil-fed solenoid that controls the timing operates correctly. Specific types of oil are also required to help comply with emissions standards. Check your vehicle’s handbook to find the correct oil for your engine.
Service intervals for engine oil renewal have become extended thanks to technological advances and the additives that are used. Some engines can survive with having their oil changed at every 15,000-20,000 miles. Plus, engine management has also become more intelligent, with many engines requiring a service after a specific amount of usage, not a number of miles. Nevertheless, CM always recommends being cautious and, if you want to preserve your engine, more frequent oil changes are a good idea.
We’ve seen the results of infrequent oil changes, where engines have become clogged up and finally killed with the dreaded black death (oil becomes sludgy/sticky). Ancillaries which are lubricated by engine oil, such as a turbocharger, can also be damaged if the oil is past its use-by date.
The work involved in draining the oil from an engine, renewing the oil filter and refilling isn’t particularly complicated, but it can be messy and some filters are awkwardly positioned.
The following pages outline many of the potential problems that can arise and the safest and quickest methods to resolve them.