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The Oil Change




Evening Times Editor

I am a man who enjoys the satisfaction and the savings of changing my own oil. While I’m not especially mechanically inclined, I do have enough ability (and the occasional YouTube video) to do regular routine maintenance and the occasional simple repair (for example, I changed my purge valve canister a few months ago, even though I have no idea what that actually is or what it does, even now…).

So, on Saturday afternoon, I set out to change the oil in my wife’s Explorer. She drove it to Gulf Shores, Alabama and back a couple of weeks ago, and we’ve had a lot of “away” softball games lately, so it was time.

I made sure I had everything I would need ahead of time, including the right size socket and ratchet, a funnel, my old litter box that I now use as my oil-catching pan, my drive-up ramps,


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my safety glasses and a rag (just in case).

I then headed up to one of our local car-parts-and-such stores, bought six quarts of oil and an oil filter. Usually, I just thumb through the book or click through the electronic version of the book and find the right filter, but this particular time, a nice employee asked what I needed and I told them.

In seconds flat, they were ringing me up and I was out the door. Back home, I got everything ready and only ran into one small little bump… the bolt on the oil pan was stuck. I rummaged around my shed and found something that would pass for what my father would call a “cheater bar” in the form of an old metal rod that I think used to go to a volleyball net or something (I never throw anything away. Armed with my cheater bar, I crawled back under the SUV and slipped it over the ratchet. It took a few different angles but I eventually found one that gave me the extra leverage I needed to get the bolt to turn and the old oil was soon flowing into the pan. I almost always somehow get the pan in the wrong spot at first, but I nailed it this time.

While that was happening, I tinkered with the filter wrench until I got it to bite and worked the filter off. Once all that was taken care of, I put the bolt back in the pan and


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fetched the new filter out of the box. It was a little larger than the old one but it was also a different brand, so I figured it would be fine.

You might already see where this is going…

I screwed the filter into place and seemed like a tight fit but in my head that was a good thing. I popped the hood, unscrewed the oil cap and stuck in the funnel. I added all the oil and screwed the cap back on. Mission accomplished, right?

I backed the Explorer down from the ramps and as soon as it rolled off and onto my driveway, the oil light came on.

I thought that was odd but thought it might just take a few seconds for the SUV’s sensors or whatever to register the oil change… or something.

But no, as I stepped out of the Explorer, I immediately saw something was wrong.

Underneath my wife’s SUV it looked like I had run over Mrs. Butterworth.

That filter that I thought looked a little big was indeed too big and once the internal pressure kicked in as I started the engine, it all spurted out of the space between the filter and the oil pan.

It looked like the BP oil spill. Needless to say, I was miffed. I got in my truck, took the bad filter box to the car-partsand- such store where the same nice employee looked the part up again and whaddya know, it was the wrong filter.

The store was kind enough to set me up with another supply of oil and the right filter, so I was able to go home and do the oil change again.

This time there were no disasters… except for the one still in my driveway.

Following the internet’s advice, I dumped a bag of kitty litter on it and used an old shop broom to spread it evenly over the mess. An hour later, I went out and swept it all up and bagged it. I did a pretty good job of absorbing the oil and I tried to spray the rest off with my hose but I’ve still got a pretty large oil stain on my driveway. I’m hoping to have time tomorrow to get the power sprayer out and see if that helps.

In the meantime, at least I got the oil changed. And while I did save some money, I definitely did not save any time. I’m still a young-ish man but I might now be “have your oil changed by a professional” years old after today.

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