A popular advertising slogan of years gone by was "You can pay me now or pay me later". The automotive filter manufacturer was making a point that a timely investment in changing the oil and replacing the filter, as opposed to neglecting this service, could avert a major repair expense. Even with improved engines, oils and filters, and despite educational efforts by the auto service industry, people still neglect their vehicles.

Statistics from vehicle check lanes during NCCM (National Car Care Month) show a failure rate of 86%. Near the top of the list of discrepancies is low or dirty engine oil. "Inspection lane volunteers have told us some horror stories," reports Car Care Council’s Vice President, Donna Wagner. "There have been cases where oil isn’t even up to dipstick level. You can imagine the condition of those engines."

Low or dirty oil suggests an accumulation of contaminants in the crankcase and in the passages that carry oil to internal engine parts. This can result in restricted oil flow within the engine. Eventually inadequately lubricated engine parts wear out and the owner pays the price of this oversight.

Inadequate coolant protection was the leading discrepancy, having had the dubious distinction of having been the cause for 32% of all vehicles to fail inspection. The Council suggests having your coolant checked annually, flushing and replacing as needed (at least every other year).


In today’s complex vehicles it is not as clear as it once was when vehicle maintenance should be performed. Cars that were made 25 years ago had much less efficient systems than cars of today. One example of this is the ignition system. Contact sets and condensers were much more prone to failure than today’s Distributorless Ignition Systems (D.I.S.). These point sets, as they were known, were parts that gradually wore out and were very inefficient. As they wore out, fuel economy would get worse plus the harmful emissions out of the tailpipe would increase to dangerous levels. The only real "advantage" to this system was that the gradual wear gave the motorist some advance warning that this system needed attention and repair. Tune-ups every twelve thousand miles were common, as motorists would sense the impending trouble and avert breakdowns with preventive maintenance.

The dramatic improvements in technology helped to replace these inefficient systems with high tech solutions that were very fuel and emission sensitive. The Federal government mandated that the car manufacturers do two things; improve fuel economy and reduce harmful emissions from the tailpipe. Both of these problems had some common fixes. Igniting a leaner mixture in the combustion chamber was one. It improved fuel economy while reducing the unburned fuel, thus reducing the amount of raw gas that would come out of the tailpipe. This raw gas, known as hydrocarbons, was one of the chief pollutants that the car manufacturers were trying to eliminate. To achieve this they needed to create a "hotter" spark at the spark plug. This is what created the need to evolve and improve the ignition system. Gone were the contact sets and condensers. They were replaced in the early to mid 70’s with a control module and magnetic pick up. The key difference is that these parts did not come in contact with each other. They replaced the old wearing points. They operated electronically, hence the name electronic ignition. As time went on, these electronic ignition systems continued to evolve and get more sophisticated. By the middle 90’s most cars were operating a computer controlled ignition system that probably did not contain a distributor. These new D.I.S. systems receive information from a variety of sensors. With the help of these sensors the computer would determine the most optimum time to fire the spark plug, plus when to allow the fuel injectors to open and for how long. This system works very well. It is very efficient compared to the old ignition systems of the 60’s and 70’s. Most importantly it has allowed the car manufacturers to improve fuel economy and reduce harmful pollutants.

The only drawback that the average motorist has encountered as a result of this sophistication is the lack of a gradual warning to possible problems. The old systems went bad gradually, and you knew when to expect trouble. These new systems may go bad without any advance warning. Or said differently, sitting on the side of the road waiting for the tow truck as you were on your way to an important appointment. To compensate for this lack of warning, the car manufacturers installed the "check engine" light on your dashboard. This light is there to warn the motorist about possible problems with the operation of the vehicle. Sometimes this light goes on when there are no apparent symptoms or problems. BUT don’t take this lightly. It is the car manufacturers way of giving you as much advance notice to potential problems as possible. In a lot of cases this will be the only warning that you will receive before a crisis hits.

The key point to remember is that when you see the "check engine" light on, you should seek advice. This advice can come from any qualified service technician, it does not necessarily mean only the car dealership where you bought your vehicle. Most qualified, ASE Certified technicians can assist you when the "check engine" light comes on. You do have choices, check with your service professional, car dealer, or auto parts store for referrals to find a qualified technician. Remember, "check engine" means just that.

For more information on BWD Automotive’s "Check Engine" program, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to BWD Automotive Corporation, Attn: Advertising Department (Check Engine), 11045 Gage Avenue, Franklin Park, IL 60131.


Three women stranded alongside I-24 near Nashville, Tennessee regretted having ignored the early warning signs of an overheated engine.

While the check engine light never turned on, they thought they detected that pungent smell that signals trouble. They had a leaking heater hose. Luckily a passing motorist donated enough antifreeze to their cause so they could limp into a service facility.

Not so lucky was the owner of this car, whose thumping tire long had been hollering for help. He had waited too long to find out why his car was shaking. When the tire failed, he discovered he had no spare, and there was no one who could help him.

Car Care Council emphasizes that most mechanical failures are avoidable.

First measure: preventive maintenance and, if needed, repair.

Next, be aware of unusual sensations, sounds and/or smells that suggest mechanical trouble.



Under-inflation is the leading cause of tire failure. It results in unnecessary tire stress, irregular wear, loss of control and accidents. A tire can lose up to half of its air pressure and not appear to be flat!


A bad jolt from hitting a curb or pothole can throw your front end out of alignment and damage your tires. Have a tire dealer check the alignment periodically to ensure that your car is properly aligned.


Regularly rotating your vehicle`s tires will help you achieve more uniform wear. Unless your vehicle`s owners manual has a specific recommendation, the guideline for tire rotation is approximately every 6,000 miles.


Advanced and unusual wear can reduce the ability of tread to grip the road in adverse conditions. Visually check your tires for uneven wear, looking for high and low areas or unusually smooth areas. Also check for signs of damage.


Hot, humid weather gives your car’s A/C a workout. A/C evaporator freezing can occur during high humidity conditions (water condenses and freezes, restricting air flow), resulting in reduced A/C performance or no cold air output. One sure sign that you may have a problem is a large amount of water draining from under your car. Another sign of evaporator freezing is if normal A/C performance returns after the A/C system has been off for 30 minutes or so. The most common cause of A/C freezing is a clogged evaporator drain tube, which is a simple fix for you or your mechanic. Other causes include a faulty evaporator temperature sensor or a bad/dirty interior ambient temperature sensor.


That foul smell from your car`s A/C is not only offensive, but it can also be bad for you. The air entering into your car passes over the A/C evaporator (the cooling element). When you operate your car`s A/C, water condenses around the evaporator coils. The moisture on the evaporator makes it a magnet for air pollutants, including dust, dirt, grime, pollen, spores and germs. These pollutants form bacteria, dust mites, and fungi, which all add up to create the bad smell that often occurs in A/C systems.

Most luxury cars now offer filter canisters to scrub pollutants from the air entering the car, however, the smell may still remain. In any case, it`s still a good idea to treat your car`s A/C each year with a quality A/C and heating system cleaner. The product I prefer is Wurth A/C & Heating System Cleaner. Simply spray Wurth A/C & Heating System Cleaner into the exterior air intake vents and inside heat and A/C vents. It eliminates odors caused by bacteria, fungi, mildew and stagnant water.


This year when you go to buy antifreeze, keep in mind there is a safer alternative, propylene glycol-based (PG) antifreeze. Each year it is estimated that 90,000 pets and wildlife die from accidentally ingesting conventional ethylene glycol-based (EG) antifreeze. What makes EG-based antifreeze even more insidious is its sweet smell and taste, which is appealing to some animals.

Over the past few years, PG-based antifreeze products have become increasingly popular among safety-conscious consumers. To meet this demand, PEAK Performance Products introduced SierraÂ; the first nationally marketed PG-based antifreeze. PG-based antifreeze provides the extra margin of safety without compromising engine protection.

PG-based antifreeze provides performance and protection comparable to conventional

EG-based antifreeze in four key areas of engine protection: boil-over, freeze-up, corrosion and heat transfer.


In anticipation of warmer weather, millions of Americans get in physical shape. NAPA (National Automotive Parts Association) recommends that consumers do the same for their vehicles by following a simple checklist to ensure safe and headache-free summer road trips and driving. The checklist is relatively inexpensive and can be completed by an ASE-certified (Automotive Service Excellence) automotive technician in a short time.

Spring Clean Checklist

Wiper Blade Check. Your wipers worked hard all winter getting rid of dirt and debris on your windshield. Replacing them now means that you can drive with confidence during April showers.

Cleanliness Check. Check the radiator and the cowl (area on your hood just ahead of the windshield) for accumulated debris from winter. Remove any leaves or trash so that air intakes are clean.

Cooling System Check. Have your cooling system analyzed, including a check of your antifreeze. Fresh antifreeze is vivid in color (usually bright green or blue), whereas dirty antifreeze looks dull. If the thermostat in your cooling system isn’t operating properly, your engine can run too hot or cold, causing either your gas mileage to decrease or, worse, your engine to overheat.

Belts and Hoses Check. In the winter, your belts and hoses take a lot of abuse from snow, salt and sand. They should be checked each spring to ensure they’ll endure the summer’s temperatures.

Brake Check. After cold weather driving, a brake check is a smart safety precaution. One of the most obvious warning signs is brake noise, including excessive grinding, squealing, screeching or chatter. If you have driven frequently through standing water, an inspection will ensure your brakes are free of corrosion and operating properly.

Air Conditioning Check. Spring is the perfect time to have your air conditioning (A/C) evaluated. In addition to diagnosing and correcting any problems before the hot weather sets in, it’s usually less expensive and easier to get an appointment before the summer rush.


Many people believe that “premium†gas is the best gas. Not true. Premium simply means “premium price†for higher octane. Octane is a simple measurement for a gasoline’s ability to resist engine knock, a rattling or pinging sound that results from premature ignition of the compressed fuel-air mixture in one or more cylinders.

Most gas stations offer three octane grades: regular (usually 87 octane), mid-grade (usually 89 octane) and premium (usually 92 or 93). The ratings must be posted on bright yellow stickers on each gasoline pump. The misnomer about octane is that the higher the rating, the better or more smoothly your car will run. In fact, premium gas can be bad for your engine if it was not designed to run at a high-octane level.

Although it may seem that the term “premium†or “high octane†implies that more energy is available, premium gas does not produce more energy than regular or mid-grade fuel. The octane grades are designed to accommodate engines with different compression ratios. High compression engines, found in most performance cars, require a fuel that burns efficiently at a higher temperature. That’s what premium fuel does, it burns hot under high compression. In a normal engine, premium fuel does not burn completely, resulting in excess carbon build-up and carbon fouling of the spark plugs. The end result is a less efficient engine that requires tune-ups more frequently. Oh, yeah, did I mention it also wastes money?

The only time you might need to switch to a higher octane fuel is if your car engine knocks when you use the recommended fuel. This happens to a small percentage of cars. Check your owner’s manual to determine the right octane level for your car. Regular octane is recommended for most cars. However, some cars with high compression engines, like sports cars and certain luxury cars, need mid-grade or premium gasoline to prevent knock.

Why You Shouldn`t Run On Empty

Have you ever heard someone say, "It seems like I’m always running on fumes, but I just can’t afford to fill it up." Think again, warns the Car Care Council. Maybe you can’t afford NOT to keep the tank at least half full. There’s a risk in running on empty. The reason: on fuel injected vehicles the fuel pump, mounted inside the gas tank, is cooled by the gasoline that surrounds it. Insufficient gas in the tank can allow the pump to overheat.

Further, if the fuel filter is dirty the pump works harder to move the gasoline from the tank to the engine. More work, more amperage, more heat and more wear on the fuel pump.

The bad news is that in hot weather, when gasoline returns to the tank from the hot engine (these systems continuously recirculate fuel between the tank and the engine) its cooling capability is diminished, further shortening the life of the pump. Replacing a fuel pump on the typical car can cost $500 or more.

All of this adds up to two valuable bits of advice: gas up when the gauge shows half full and change the fuel filter every 10,000 – 20,000 miles.

Reason #2 not to run near empty, of course, is to reduce the danger of running out of gas. How can you be sure you won’t be stalled in traffic with the engine running and the gauge on "E"?

Reason #3 is to prevent contamination from getting into the gas line. Whatever moisture or sediment may be in the tank is more likely to be drawn into the system when the tank is nearly empty. That can cause the engine to run poorly or stall out completely.


When Your Car Battery Plays Dead

Half-century ago, used car shoppers recognized RH &WW in the classified ads as radio, heater and white wall tires. That was about the limit of options on most cars. Smokers could install a cigarette lighter. Air conditioning? Forget it! Electrical systems were 6 volt. That`s all a car needed. Not even windshield wipers were electric. They were powered by vacuum from the engine.

Our appetites for all the "bells and whistles" demanded more electricity and , in the mid-50`s, manufacturers upped the 6-volt systems to 12. Then came higher demands brought on by air conditioning, electric windows, seats mirrors, sun roof , high powered sound systems, lumbar seats, electric fans (instead of engine driven fans) on the cooling system`s radiator, electric fuel pumps instead of engine driven, heated windshields and mirrors, GPS, various computer functions and more.

Battery designs keep improving; they`re lighter and they hold up better. But they`re still 12 volt batteries being worked to the max. For these reasons and more, automotive designers are considering higher voltage systems, possibly 42 volts rather than 12.

But no matter how powerful the battery, it can`t deliver the current to do the job with faulty connections. Accumulated corrosion, the white stuff on the battery`s terminals, causes it to act dead. It can neither deliver power to the starter and accessories nor can it accept a charge from the alternator.

Eventually, it not only plays dead, it is dead. To prevent your hard working battery from letting you down, says the Car Care Council, keep the terminal connections free of corrosion. Special cleaners and protective material are available at your auto supply store.


Cooling System Maintenance

As the verdant hues of spring and summer change to a rich pageant of reds and browns, it is once again time to contemplate the condition of your vehicle’s cooling system. Cooling systems, heavily taxed by mid-year summertime heat, play an equally important part in winter when the mercury dips below freezing in many parts of the country. This makes cooling system preventative maintenance a year-round affair. The same system that protects against boilovers in summer is also needed to protect against freeze-ups in winter.

Unfortunately, many motorists only think about their car’s cooling system when a problem occurs. A Department of Transportation study* cited cooling systems as the number-one cause of mechanical breakdowns on the highway; this clearly indicates the need for a more-proactive stance on cooling system inspection and maintenance.

Maintaining a properly functioning cooling system is important regardless of where you live or the time of year," said Charles Howlett, Jr., General Manager for Wynn Oil Company, a leader in professional products and equipment for automotive technicians. "Regular coolant inspections and periodic refills are keys to keeping your car’s engine healthy."

Inspecting a vehicle’s cooling system is a task, which can be performed by anyone. First and foremost, make sure there is enough coolant/antifreeze in the system. An owner’s manual will illustrate where to inspect the coolant level. With many recent model cars having semi-transparent plastic coolant reservoirs, inspecting the level is a simple matter of looking at the reservoir; typically there will be high/low markings on the side.

Having enough coolant/antifreeze in the system isn’t enough to ensure trouble-free motoring. The vehicle also needs to have the proper coolant/antifreeze mixture, usually 50 percent antifreeze/coolant and 50 percent water. The age of the coolant mixture is equally important as the coolant contains corrosion inhibitors which are vital to engine longevity. Failure to keep fresh coolant in the system can cause rust, scale and acid formation that can cause overheating and engine damage and the only way to prevent this is to periodically replace the coolant.

The proper coolant replacement interval for many vehicles is typically 30,000 miles or 24 months, but some newer cars with extended-life coolant can go 100,000 miles or more between changes. While some motorists may elect to perform this task themselves, many take their car to a mechanic to have the job done. Regardless, not all coolant changes are equal.

The old school of automotive repair dictates opening the radiator petcock valve and removing the lower radiator hose to drain the fluid into a catch pan for later reclamation. However, this procedure gives rise to a few problems.

First, there is the issue of old fluid being trapped in hoses, the heater core and the engine block. In some cases, over half of the fluid is held captive only to be mixed with the fresh coolant. This contamination greatly reduces the new coolant/antifreeze’s efficiency and corrosion inhibitor longevity.

Secondly, any rust or scale deposits in the radiator, heater core or engine remain after the drain and refill. This blockage further reduces the cooling system’s efficiency and increases the chances of boilovers.

Finally, properly disposing of old coolant dictates capturing all of the old coolant, including that which was flushed from the system with water, and delivering it to a recycling center.

Recent years have seen an increase in professional cooling system flushing technologies. Wynn Oil Company markets its POWERFLUSH Flush and Fill equipment designed to perform a complete cooling system service in 20 minutes or less. Wynn’s system offers advantages over the old fashioned methods by removing rust and scale deposits from the entire cooling system that can cause overheating and engine damage, not just removing the old fluid from the radiator. So effective is the Wynn’s system, 90-95 percent of the old fluid is removed. Wynn’s also makes a radiator sealant engineered to prevent minor leaks, foaming and lubricate the water pump seals.

Protect Your Car With The Right Antifreeze

This fall as you prepare your house for the onslaught of winter, it’s also time to turn your attention to your car’s cooling system to ensure a season of trouble-free motoring. Motorists who neglect their vehicles’ cooling system run the risk of doing serious damage to their car’s engine.

As many know, antifreeze/coolant plays a crucial role in engine longevity. It not only protects a car’s radiator and cooling system from freezing up or boiling over, but it also contains special additives, called corrosion inhibitors, that protect cooling systems against damaging rust and corrosion. However, over time these additives wear out and the antifreeze/coolant no longer provides the protection against corrosion of cooling system metals your engine needs.

If you haven’t inspected your car’s cooling system recently, or don’t remember the last time you changed your antifreeze, there is no time like the present. Changing your antifreeze not only protects your engine against problems like freezing up, overheating and corrosion, but it can help prevent expensive repair bills for radiators and other cooling parts. Not to mention the headaches and problems associated with your car breaking down.

It’s important to keep the proper level of fresh antifreeze in your cooling system," said Craig Gullett, brand manager for PEAK and Sierra Antifreeze products. "Preventive cooling system maintenance is crucial to keeping one’s car healthy for the long term."

Most weekend mechanics can inspect and maintain the cooling system in their vehicle using a few tools. An antifreeze tester, available at your local auto parts store, can be used to measure the ratio of antifreeze to water. For the best year-round protection, a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water is recommended. When checking your coolant, the engine and cooling system should be cold; opening a hot radiator or coolant overflow tank can cause severe burns.

A trip to the auto parts store can be a confusing experience due to the number of antifreeze products on the shelf. Armed with the proper information, you can be assured to make the right choice.

If your antifreeze is reasonably fresh and the antifreeze-to-water ratio is correct, you can simply top-off your system with a pre-mixed 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water ready-to-use antifreeze to maintain the proper ratio. PEAK Performance Products offers its Ready Use AntifreezeTM for this purpose. Because it’s pre-mixed, there is no need to add water.

For a complete antifreeze drain and fill, you’ll need to purchase antifreeze to mix with water. Most vehicles use conventional green-colored ethylene glycol-based antifreeze; PEAK’s original formula antifreeze is a leading brand. However, many new cars, particularly most 1996 and newer GM cars, come factory filled with and require the new extended-life antifreeze. PEAK Extended LifeÂ, a popular brand, incorporates an inhibitor package designed to go for 150,000 miles, or five years between service.

In recent years, propylene glycol-based (PG) antifreeze products, such as Sierra: the safer antifreeze, have become popular. The PG-based formula is safer for people, pets and wildlife if accidentally ingested compared to conventional ethylene glycol-based (EG) antifreeze products. Propylene glycol antifreeze provides performance protection comparable to conventional ethylene glycol-based antifreeze in four key areas of engine protection: boil-over, freeze-up, corrosion and heat transfer.

"Buying antifreeze has changed over the years. No longer do you have one type of antifreeze for all types of applications. You should check your vehicle owner’s manual for specific requirements," Gullett said. "As you prepare your vehicle for winter, get the right antifreeze to keep its engine from freezing and make cooling system checkups a twice-a-year event."

While you’re getting your car’s cooling system ready for winter, it’s also a good time to fill your car’s windshield washer reservoir with a de-icing wash. Leading brands, like PEAK Premium WashÂ, are formulated to not freeze on your car’s windshield, and to help melt the frost and light ice that build up on windshields in the winter.

This fall, don’t fall behind; check your vehicle’s cooling system.


Most automotive service professionals would agree that changing your oil is the best preventative maintenance you can perform on your car. But I’m here to tell you that just simply knowing you should change your oil may not be enough. I intellectually know I should change my oil every 3,000 miles, but it wasn’t until the day my dad lifted the hood of my car and yelled at me because he could barely see any oil on my dipstick that I started to realize just how important changing my oil is to the life of my car! I didn’t understand that without oil, my engine’s a goner! By neglecting this simple maintenance, you may encounter costly repair bills that could have been prevented. This following information was written to cover the most important maintenance job for your car.

Why is oil so important?

Just as your body needs blood to deliver oxygen to all of your essential organs, , your car needs oil to properly maintain all of the moving parts in the engine. Oil serves a few different purposes. Oil lubricates, cleans & cools your engine. The moving parts of your car have to fit tightly together in order to properly function. Without lubrication, these tightly fit pieces would quickly wear and bond together (seize) because metal against metal causes friction, which causes heat, which in turn causes wear. By performing it’s job as a lubricant, oil is serving another purpose at the very same time. It’s separating the parts of your engine; therefore it’s keeping your engine cool.

Because oil is a relatively good conductor of heat, it attracts some of the excess heat as it flows around the hot combustion chambers and carries that heat to your oil pan below. This special design functions like clockwork if the following things are in check:

Your oil is at the proper level

Your oil is clean and of the proper weight (viscosity)

Your filter and pump are functioning properly

Your oil passageways are not restricted in any way

So, how does oil work?

Your engine has an oil pump that pushes dirty oil through an oil filter. The oil filter collects small particles of dirt and contaminants, and stores them until you change your filter. The oil is pushed through small tiny passageways that are cut into the engine block. From there, the oil moves to the bearings, connecting rods, and inside your cylinder walls, pistons, and valves, where it then acts as a lubricant. The oil coats the metal parts with a thin film of lubrication that acts as a slippery cushion.

Choosing the right oil

Various types of oil are on the market, each created for a particular purpose. To choose the oil that you need, it’s essential to understand the importance of oil additives, viscosity ratings, and codes that you will come across when buying oil. Additives help in the following ways:

To pour better in cold weather

To prevent corrosion of the metal parts in your engine

To reduce friction between the moving parts

To prevent foaming at high temps

Oil viscosity (ability to flow) is one of the most important ratings to understand. In order to properly lubricate the internal parts of your engine correctly, oil should flow like regular cooking oil. In order to be sure that your oil is flowing correctly, you must know that the consistency of oil changes as the outside temperature changes. This means that in very cold climates, oil becomes very thick, almost like honey. If the oil is too thick the oil may not reach the moving internal parts in time to separate them and protect them. In very warm temperatures, oil becomes thin, like vinegar. When the oil is too thin, it does not coat; thereby not separating the parts because it doesn’t stay on them long enough.

In order to solve this viscosity problem, multi-grade oils were created. Special additives allow the oil to broaden its working capacity. For instance, these special additives gave oil with a weight of 10W-30 the ability to flow freely at more than one temperature. The 10W means that the oil is suitable for winter (that’s what the “W†stands for) and the 30 means that it would flow well in the summer. The range of numbers refers to the oil’s ability to flow at different temperatures. A range indicates this ability, 5 through 50. The smaller the number, the thinner the oil. No matter what, it’s always best to check the owner’s manual for your car to see what type of oil is recommended.

How to check your oil

Most cars consume (burn) a small amount of oil during normal operation. As a car ages (in miles, not years), oil consumption increases. New cars may also burn more oil than normal until all of the moving parts settle in. Because your car consumes oil, it is very important to check the oil level on a regular basis. Some experts recommend checking your car’s oil level each time you fill your tank with gas. This may be excessive. At a minimum, you should check the oil level in your car every 1,000 miles.

Here’s how:

Park on level ground and wait about 5 minutes after turning your engine off.

Pull out your oil dipstick.

Wipe it down with a clean cloth.

Put your dipstick all the way at the same angle in which you pulled it out.

Pull it out again and look to see where the level of oil is.

If the level of oil is below the add line, add a quart of the oil that is recommended for your car.

If the level of oil is between the add and full lines, be sure to check it regularly and add more oil when needed.


Be sure that your oil level is always high enough – but not too high. If you have too much oil, your engine seals and there is no escape through the joints and they may burst.

In order to get the maximum mileage out of your car, you should have your oil changed as recommended by the manufacturer. On pre-1990 cars, every 3,500 miles is about right. Cars built after 1990 may go as long as 7,500 miles without needing an oil change.

If you drive a turbocharged or supercharged car, use only turbo-rated oil. This oil is specially designed to handle the extreme heat of a turbocharger.

So, how do you change your oil?

Changing your oil is fairly easy unless your oil filter is impossible to reach. First you’ll need to make sure that you have all the supplies that you need. If you have everything you need, you should be able to change your oil in about an hour.


Oil. Make sure to get the right amount. Most cars take about 5 quarts. Get one extra so you have enough to top-up between oil changes. Check your owner’s manual for the correct amount and viscosity.

Oil filter (make sure you have the right filter for your make & model of car) Under your hood, sticking out of the engine is what looks like a can screwed into your engine. This is your oil filter.

Box wrench or allen wrench – This tool helps you loosen and tighten the oil drain plug.

Oil drain plug gasket – Some cars do not have a drain plug gasket, instead they rely on a tapered metal-to-metal contact to prevent oil leakag.

A large pan to catch the oil (drain pan) – Something low enough to fit under your car and large enough to hold the oil.

A funnel – Just to help prevent messy spills!

Rags – This is for wiping your oil dipstick.

A work light – A well lit area helps you see better under your car.

The Process

Warm up your engine for a couple minutes so that the oil gets churned up and flows freely out of your engine (the engine should be slightly warm, not hot!).

Place drain pan underneath the oil drain plug so that it will catch all of the oil.

Use your box or allen wrench to unscrew the oil drain plug until it’s almost ready to come out. Grab one of your rags and place it over the plug, give it that last turn by hand and release it. Pull your hand away quickly so that you don’t get warm oil all over you.

Next, remove the cap from your oil filler hole at the top of your engine.

Unscrew the oil filter by using an oil filter wrench if you are unable to do this by hand. Like most things the oil filter unscrews if you twist it counterclockwise. Your old oil filter will still have oil in it, be careful not to dump it on anything when you remove it.

Empty the oil from the filter into the drain pan. Once the filter is drained, wrap it in something like newspaper or special containers to transport to a recycling facility.

While the oil drains out of your engine, get your new bottles of oil ready.

Prep your new oil filter by wiping a dab of fresh oil on the rubber seal. This helps the filter seat against the engine without binding. Screw in your new filter into the engine where the old one was. Turn it gently until it seats. Then turn it another three-quarter turn.

Replace the oil drain plug and use your wrench to tighten until it’s good and snug. Do not over-tighten.

After you install the oil filter and replace your drain plug, using your funnel, pour in all but 1 quart of the fresh oil into the filler hole.

Replace the oil filler cap and run your engine for about a minute while you check for leaks under your car. Be sure not to rev up your engine at this time. Your oil pressure is low while the filter and oil passages are filling with fresh oil. Running your engine circulates oil into the new filter.

Now, shut off your engine and wait about 10 minutes for the oil to settle back into the pan. Remove the dipstick; wipe it clean with your rag and shove it back in. Pull it out again to check the level. If the oil level is low, add one-half quart and check again.

Remove your drain pan from under your car and take a short drive. Let the oil settle down again and check your oil one more time†for good measure! :-)

Although this job has many steps it really shouldn’t take you more than an hour to completeâ€maybe a little longer if it’s your first time.