Oil Change Zen

There’s an old Zen Buddhist saying that says something to the effect, when you walk, just walk, when you eat, just eat, when you sit, just sit. The saying advocates the wisdom and beauty of performing one task at a time. This is certainly not multi-tasking in any way, shape, or form.  I try to practice “mono-tasking” whenever possible.

The ol’ Camry was in dire need of an oil change, so I decided to do it myself.  Step by step, I’d focus on each aspect of the chore.  How about a zen-like oil change?  I had not performed a DIY oil change for about 15 years because I had been using the services of a local oil change specialty garage.  They provided the service and products I needed at a fairly reasonable price. Lately, the quality of their service has slipped and they have been cutting corners by using a cheaper grade and different brand of oil than I prefer. Plus, their fees have increased markedly.  It was time for a change regarding oil changes.

The very first time I ever performed this task was as a 15-year-old.  Dad’s 1961 Buick LeSabre provided the opportunity. Ever since then, I had changed the oil in all of my cars, until I bought the Toyota.  Then, I decided to save time and have it done professionally.Oil01

On May 2nd, I took advantage of a beautiful afternoon.  The weather was perfect for some shade-tree mechanical enjoyment. The first thing to do, was to bring out the necessary tools and supplies.  My car care toolbox contained a selection of filter removal wrenches, regular wrenches, and a torque wrench (inside the long red cardboard box.  Some disposable paper shop towels work best to keep this messy job neat.  My trusty drip-pan and a small funnel was found.  The fresh oil and a new filter had been purchased the day before.

Oil02I had driven the car before my task, so the engine was hot.  I allowed about half-an-hour for it to cool a bit and to enable most of the old oil to collect in the crankcase oil pan. I popped open the hood and quickly eyed the engine. The engine block was dirty because the oil change company had begun to get sloppy. They had not allowed the filter to sufficiently drain before removing it, so oil had accumulated and attracted dirt. The old filter is the white object with “38” written on it.  The dipstick handle is the yellow object.

I didn’t need any of the filter wrenches, because I was able to unscrew the filter by oil03hand.  It came off rather easily.  Because I allowed plenty of time, not a single drop of old oil dripped from the old filter when I removed it. I then cleaned off the filter area of the engine with one of the shop towels.  I  dipped a finger into some fresh oil and coated the rubber gasket of the new filter, then installed it.  The filter  was snugged up, hand-tight. (Don’t use a wrench to tighten these.)

Oil04I discovered that my old drip-pan barely cleared the undercarriage of the Camry.  I’d never had that problem with my other cars.  There was no room for the pan and my arm in the same place.  I knew I had to do a quick shuffle to remove the drain plug.  The wrench loosened the plug. Then, I unscrewed it the rest of the way by hand.  The moment the oil began to flow, I quickly shoved the drip-pan underneath.


Only a small amount of oil missed the pan, but plenty got onto my hand. I’m glad I had allowed the engine to cool down somewhat.  After the last of the old oil had dripped out, I re-installed the drain plug and snugged it tightly.  I later tested the tightness with the torque wrench. Oil06

The best part came next.  I removed the filler cap and checked it for contamination.  There was none.  Then, using the funnel, I poured new oil into the engine.  Consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual or service manual for the proper amount, type, and recommended weight to use. Different people have their own preferences for the brand name they use.   Personally, I’ve only used Pennzoil for all of my cars. Your choice may vary.

Oil07When filling with new oil, check the dipstick to make sure you have the proper amount.  When the dipstick shows that the engine has the proper level, put the filler cap back on the engine to keep oil from spewing out when the engine runs.

Start the engine, and carefully look for leaks.  Shut off the engine.  Check the dipstick again. You’ll notice that the level is slightly lower.  That means oil has filled the new filter.  Top off the engine with a little more fresh oil, but not too much.  Check the dipstick again, to be sure. Be certain to replace the filler cap and the dipstick.  Make sure there are no tools, rags, parts, and so forth under the hood and car.  I also take the time to check the other engine fluids. This is also a good time to add windshield washer fluid to the proper reservoir. Then close the hood.Oil08

Next, I transfered the old motoroil into empty oil containers so I can bring it to the recyclers.  Never throw it away in the regular garbage.  We don’t want this stuff in our landfills.

Finally, I cleaned up my tools and put everything away.  I wrote a reminder about the date and car’s odometer reading onto my refrigerator with a white-board marker.  The zen-like oil change job was complete.  The chore was an enjoyable way to spend part of the afternoon.

mini-moiThe Blue Jay of Happiness knows that this blogger kind of likes the messy feel and smell of motor oil.

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Environment, Gadgets, Transportation and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Oil Change Zen

  1. Doug says:

    I miss doing the oil change on my car. My Mazda is set up so it has to be done by a mechanic. The car has to be hoisted up to get to the filter and drain plug. Glad you had fun!

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