Monday, January 30, 2006

Changing my oil

I'm a stubborn sort. I was raised with the belief if you can do something yourself and not screw it up, that's better than paying someone else to do it.

These days, an oil change is hardly worth doing at home. You can get one done just about anywhere for $20-$25. Even less if you go with el cheapo oil or don't have a high mileage engine. I can do it myself for about $15. So it's probably not worth my time and effort to save $5. And if I truly thought critically about it, I would see that.

But as I mentioned, I'm stubborn. So I change my own oil.

The good people at Nissan do not want you to change your own oil. I can say this without hesitation because I currently own my second Nissan vehicle. I previously owned a 2000 Xterra which required you to remove the skid plate from the bottom and contort your arm in a way that would make a Chinese acrobat cringe just to get the oil filter off. But I did it, and got pretty good at it. I'm also the only man in America that has a joint in his arm midway down the forearm. Evolution moves fast.

I now own a 2000 Altima. I performed my first oil change on the Altima this weekend. I had no problem getting to the oil pan and draining it. It only required jacking up the car enough to get the catch pan underneath it. Then, as the oil was draining I began searching for the oil filter. It was not on the front of the engine, as on the Xterra. It was not anywhere that could be seen from above the engine.

I consulted the manual.

The manual indicated it was on the back of the engine, about 1/3 of the way up the block, on the passenger side. I had absolutely no way of reaching it from above. No hole surrounding the back of the engine was large enough for me to sqeeze my double jointed forearm through. So I jacked it up even more. (Side note, I hate getting under a jacked up car. I just don't trust those wimpy jacks they have these days.) I looked and looked and still could not see it. Only by blindly running my hands around the back of the engine did I finally find it.

Ah, a space large enough to get my hands around the filter, but small enough to not allow a filter wrench on it. (Side note #2, when you get your oil changed somewhere, there must be a contest to see who can get the filter on the tightest.) LOOOOOOOOOOOOONG story short, my shoulder is killing me, and I got my oil changed. In just under an hour.


BRATCH said...

I read an article online that talked about how much one's own time is worth. Time as in every hour of the day regardless of whether or not you were working on the clock for pay.

It actually had a formula to figure it out and then it started talking about things like washing your car and other stuff you can either pay to have done or do it yourself.

The example they gave was a person who's time figured up to be something like $35 an hour. They liked to wash their car by hand, but it took an 30 minutes to an hour for them to do it. They could run it through a carwash for 10 bucks and still come out way ahead.

Changing oil is strictly a "pay someone else" task. Why roll all over the ground for an hour and spend $15 when you can spend $20 and have someone change the oil, top off your fluids, grease your front end and get rid of the oil in less time?

Piccu said...

Better yet, come back into the OC and get your oil changed at the Muffler House in Hartford and help out a community business. Down with Wal-Mart!!!!

Travis said...

Because I'm sick. Actually, worse yet, I'm cheap. I can't stand paying someone for something I can do for cheaper. Even if it is just $5 cheaper.
And to be precise, I get high mileage oil, so if I got an oil change somewhere, it would probably cost closer to $30.

Top off your own fluids, pansy!

BRATCH said...

I have about six grease fittings on the front end of my truck that need grease occasionally so things don't literally fall off. You do too. I got my oil changed recently, front end greased, wiper fluid topped off and have had tranny fluid topped off before all for $20.

While that extra stuff seems small. Wiper fluid, tranny fluid, grease and a grease gun all cost extra if I do it myself and then I have to dispose of the oil.

And by the way "high mileage" oil is for suckers. Unless you are talking full synthetic, oil is oil. In fact, you don't even have to change your oil every 3,000. In my 1991 Jeep Cherokee owner's manual it suggested changing it every 5,000 miles or 7,500 if you didn't drive very often.

While you can tell me that I'm stupid for changing my oil every 3,000 when 5,000 is fine, but I'd rather change it every 3,000 with regular oil than spend more for "high mileage" oil. If you don't have to buy premium gas, don't buy anything other than regular oil.

The only reason you have for doing it yourself is so you don't get screwed over by a crooked mechanic down there in BG. Piccu and I know where we can and can't go here. We don't go to the place that tried to charge me $300 for something the Muffler House fixed for FREE. You don't have that luxury down there.

Piccu said...

Yeah, you dang city slicker!