Car Mechanics (UK)

Oil & fil­ter

In the first of our be­gin­ners’ guide to en­gine ser­vic­ing, Rob Hawkins looks at chang­ing the oil and fil­ter.

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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.

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