Today’s vehicles have become very complicated making it difficult for you to confidently perform your own maintenance and repairs. Changing your engine oil is one of the most common do it yourself auto repair’s but even that’s not as simple as it used to be. One simple oil change mistake can damage your engine and cost you thousands of dollars in repair or replacement costs. Below is a list of the most common oil change mistakes I see coming back to the shop.
Common Oil Change Mistakes #1: Using The Wrong Oil
Thirty years ago you could pretty much dump any oil you had lying around in your engine and not have a problem. That’s not the case any more. Your engine oils doing allot more than lubricating engine parts these days. It’s also providing hydraulic pressure to adjustable internal engine parts to keep your engine running smooth and efficiently at all speeds. Using the wrong grade or quality of oil can cause problems with these hydraulic components leading to drive-ability issues and internal engine damage.
Oil Change Tip: Make sure you are using the proper grade of oil that meets or exceeds the vehicle manufactures specification for your vehicle’s engine.
Common Oil Change Mistakes #2: Using The Wrong Filter
Just because the filter spins on and the gasket lines up doesn’t mean it’s the right one for the vehicle. There’s a lot of technology built into that little cartridge, make sure your using the one designed for your engine. Using the wrong filter can starve your engine of oil or may not filter enough to keep dirt from clogging up internal engine parts and causing some major damage.
Oil Change Tip: Make sure your giving your parts guy all the information he needs to get you the proper filter. Also remember you get what you pay for, use a quality filter from a reputable company that stands behind their products.
Common Oil Change Mistakes #3: The Missing Oil Cap
This one gives me grief on a regular basis. Even professionals who perform vehicle maintenance every day can forget to put the oil cap back on. This common oil change mistake can cause issues from turning on the check engine light, to spraying oil out all over the engine compartment until there is no oil left in the engine. This simple mistake can become very costly. Here’s a simple tip I share with new apprentices to help avoid this common oil change mistake.
Oil Change Tip: When you remove the oil cap set it on the hood latch. This will prevent the hood from closing if you forget to reinstall it on the engine. It may get broken if you slam the hood on it, but its better to replace an oil cap than an engine.
Common Oil Change Mistakes #4: Over Or Under Filling The Oil
Make sure you fill your oil to the proper level. A low oil level can fail to lubricate internal engine parts causing premature wear and failure. Over filling can cause the oil to foam up inside the engine reducing lubrication and hydraulic pressure. It can also put added pressure on the pcv system causing engine seals and gaskets to leak.
Oil Change Tip: Check your oil with your car parked on a level surface. Always fill your oil to the proper level.
Common Oil Change Mistakes #5: Reusing The Old Gasket
Always, always, always change the drain plug gasket. Why take a chance, you don’t need to find out it leaks after the oil is in and the job is done. It’s a very inexpensive precaution to help keep the oil in your engine. If your engine has a cartridge type filter, make sure you change the cartridge o-ring. The new filter should come with a new o-ring, if it doesn’t you may want to consider upgrading to a better quality filter. I have seen these o-rings fail on start-up and 2000 miles down the road, they are fist class engine killers.
Oil Change Tip: Never reuse drain plug gaskets or oil filter cartridge o-rings.
Common Oil Change Mistakes #6: The Missing Drain Plug
Yep it happens. The tow truck brings in a nice little gift “I was driving along and all of the sudden it just quit!”. It doesn’t happen often but when it does it’s never good. The oil drain plug is gone and the oil is covering the underside if the vehicle. A simple little mistake, forgetting to tighten the oil drain plug, just cost you an engine. It’s very important to stay focused on the job you are doing, finish the oil change and be sure it’s done right, before starting any another job.
Oil Change Tip: Check, double-check and check it again, make sure that drain plug is tight.
Common Oil Change Mistakes #7: The Dreaded Double Gasket
This one’s the silent killer, you never know its coming. You stay focused on the job, check, double-check and check again, everything is done perfectly. Five miles down the road the oil light comes on and the engine stalls. “What the $%@#? I know I tightened the drain plug and filter and I know filled the oil to the proper level. What happened?” I thought it was a myth told to scare young apprentices, until I saw it for myself (and many times since). The dreaded double gasket. The gasket from the original oil filter sticks to the housing, then the new filter is installed over top so there are two oil filter gaskets on the new filter. If you are lucky the original gasket will blow out on start-up and you’ll just have a mess to clean up, but most of the time it blows out while driving and things come to a stop in a hurry.
Oil Change Tip: When you remove the oil filter make sure you know where the old gasket is. Check the filter housing, make sure it is clean and the old gaskets not stuck to it.
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Well there they are, 7 Common Oil Change Mistakes That Will Cost You Thousands. I hope this helps you with your future oil changes. If I save one engine than it’s all worth it. Let me know what you think and how I can help with your next future auto repair project.
Have a good one!