Automobile Maintenance

How to Get a Good Oil Change

Motor Era Auto Repair Manuals
Motor Era Auto Repair Manuals

People need to understand how to get a good oil change. Many car owners believe that this is a simple service. They also think that anybody can do it. Although these statements contain a few glimmers of truth, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Yes it’s a simple service on some automobiles.

However, on some cars and trucks the maintenance procedure becomes more complicated. Auto repair shops might have to remove belly pans and stone guards to gain access to the drain plug and filter. In some cases the oil filter is located over the top of electrical components like alternators or starter motors. In this situation you don’t want oil to drip on these electrical devices. Sidebar: a good mechanical sees this situation and places a rag on top of these components. This soaks up the oil before it reaches the internal workings of the electrical devices.

Nevertheless, you don’t need a certified master technician to perform the operation to achieve the desired results. With that said, you do need somebody that cares about the job they do and has enough experience to carry it out properly. In addition, to these vehicle specific issues that make getting a good oil change more difficult, there are common items included in all maintenance services. Here we’ll discuss these items so you’ll know how to get a good oil change.

Problems with an Oil and Filter Service

Engine Preventative Car Maintenance
Engine Preventative Car Maintenance

Let’s get the facts straight about what the oil and filter service means to the shop and to the consumer. First, let’s tackle how a retail automotive center feels about it. The simple fact is, they make very little profit in performing the maintenance operation. With the cost on the rise of oil and the filters, coupled with disposal regulations, the auto repair center is lucky to make a few dollars. Although they would like to charge more for the service the competition created a cap on what they can realistically charge for the service. The best thing they can hope to achieve is to gain a loyal customer by doing a good job.

From the consumer’s point of view, a good oil change service is extremely important. Regular car maintenance remains necessary to keep the engine clean inside. Use of high quality filters and the correct viscosity of oil becomes another critical component of the oil change. This also becomes one of the rare opportunities that a professional gets to look over the vehicle. Any outstanding maintenance or safety problems can be discovered during the short time the automobile is in the shop. A consumer needs to understand what the shop includes in a lube oil and filter maintenance service. Then they need to make sure they get what they paid for.

Things Included in a Good Oil Change

Space Saver Spare Tire
Space Saver Spare Tire

A good oil change includes checking all the tire pressure including the spare tire. Car makers hide the space saver spare away to maximize cargo space and reduce weight. When something is out of sight it’s often out of mind of both the driver and the mechanic. A flat tire from debris on the road remains a common occurrence.

Digging out the space saver spare and discovering that there’s no air in it or that it’s low is an aggravating experience. Therefore, a good oil change service will include properly inflating the spare tire. Many people don’t realize, because of its small size, that a space saver spare has twice the pressure of a regular tire. This means that 60 to 70 psi inflation is necessary for the spare to operate correctly.

The higher the pressure the more likely a slow bleed down occurs. A really conscientious mechanic will go one step further and make sure that you have a usable lug wrench and a jack that isn’t rusted closed. Sometimes water makes its way into the storage area rendering the jack useless in an emergency situation. Making sure the spare tire is ready to go, verifying the jack works and the lug wrench is included becomes an important part of the service. It’s even worth tipping the mechanic or paying an extra few dollars to make sure it gets done.

Resetting the Maintenance Notification System

Maintenance Reminder Light
Maintenance Reminder Light

Automotive manufacturers are making maintenance notification systems an integrated part of the automobile. Gone are the days of the windshield stickers. These on-board reminders remain important for drivers to stay on top of their maintenance requirements. However, most of these systems require a reset after an oil change service. Failure to do so can notify the driver too early or too late for the next maintenance period.

As drivers become more dependent on these maintenance notification systems resetting them at the time of service becomes more important. Unfortunately, some of the resetting procedures become confusing and more complicated. Although these details are outlined in your auto repair manual or owner’s guide, few read these materials. A good oil change includes resetting of these maintenance reminders. With that said, there’s nothing wrong with asking if they did it at the end of the service.

Miscellaneous items Included in a Good Oil Change

I remember when completely refilling the windshield washer fluid use to come with every standard oil change. However, as mentioned with the rising costs and the decreased profit margins, some auto repair centers will just verify that some fluid remains in the reservoir. What we need as consumers is for them to fill this container completely so it lasts until the next maintenance service.

In addition, we want to make sure they add a full strength washer fluid with an antifreeze component. Many shops water down there windshield washer fluid to stretch it between more vehicles. Unfortunately, a cold winter day can render your windshield washer’s inoperative when you need them the most. Our vehicles include many other types of fluids. Automatic transmission fluid, engine coolant, power steering fluid and brake fluid should at least have the levels checked. Any problems with these hydraulic oils should be brought to the attention of the driver.

Note that the different fluids included with your automobile often depend on the year, make and model. With the push towards driver-less cars, many power steering systems converted from hydraulic to electric. Also note that I would rather not have my coolant refilled if they’re just going to add water to bring it to its proper level. In the end, it’s the driver’s responsibility to make sure they get what they paid for. And this is how to get a good oil change service.