10 tips on getting the best possible oil change

Getting a vehicle’s oil changed according to the manufacturer’s specified maintenance schedule is probably the single best thing an owner can do to assure its longevity. Otherwise, in a very short time, you may have to say goodbye to what may be your second largest investment.

However, all oil changes are not alike. And whether you do it yourself or have it done by a professional, the same rules will apply.

So how can you make sure that your vehicle gets the best possible oil change? Simply follow the tips outlined below.

1. Allow your vehicle’s engine to warm up fully. Once an engine is warmed up completely, all the dirt particles and contaminants that settled at the bottom of the oil pan when the engine was turned off get churned up and suspended in the oil. This will ensure that most of the contaminants are removed when the oil is drained.

2. Make sure the vehicle is level when the oil is being drained. This allows oil to drain out as completely as possible.

3. Examine the waste oil as it is draining into the pan – look and feel. Look for signs of contamination such as water, because with every drain, water will settle at the bottom of the pan. Also, feel for bits of metal which could suggest internal engine problems. You may not have noticed the last time you took your car in for an oil change but a good mechanic will run his fingers through the oil while it is draining to feel for grit, metal and other contaminants that signal possible engine problems.

4. Remove and inspect the old filter carefully. Most modern cars use a spin-on oil filter. When removing the filter, make sure the gasket sealing ring comes off with the filter. If it does not, use your fingernail to pry it loose and remove it.

5. Choose your new filter carefully: Buy only quality filters.

6. Install the filter properly. Make sure to coat the sealing ring with fresh motor oil and install it hand tight only.

7. Choose the correct grade of new oil. Choosing the appropriate grade will ensure proper performance. Refer to your owner’s manual for the correct service designation. It will be specified as an API (American Petroleum Institute) rating. Diesel engines require oil that is specifically formulated for diesel service and has a separate API rating.

8. Choose the correct viscosity or thickness of oil. It will vary by make and model of car and the climate in which the vehicle is operating. The viscosity of the oil will be specified in the owner’s manual as a SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) number. For example, a typical multi-grade oil is 5W30. Oil viscosity can affect cold starting, engine protection and fuel economy. For example, 5W-30 oil acts like fairly thin 5-weight oil in cold weather to allow for easier engine starts, yet acts like thicker 30-weight oil when it’s hot to afford more protection under conditions in which you’d expect oil to get thinner as it gets hotter.

9. Use the right amount of oil. Over-filling can cause oil leaks and can damage engine seals and gaskets; having too little oil can cause friction and shorten engine life.

10. Invest a few dollars in buying a magnetic oil pan drain plug that can capture most of the potentially damaging metal particles that may collect in the oil pan.

A seemingly simple procedure like an oil change can potentially have major consequences for your car’s driving performance and longevity. So follow the rules and you will enjoy thousands of miles of driving pleasure.

Courtesy of CarCare News Service

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