Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Even as the bikes are sleeping in the garage for the winter, life goes on. Today, it was time to change the oil in my truck. I hate that job.... Why? It's not hard, but the oil change on my truck is just unnatural...

I've been wrenching on cars, trucks, lawnmowers, heavy equipment and motorcycles since my high school days, and I graduated in 1978... so I've done a few things. I took Auto Shop my junior year and have been doing all my own brake jobs, wheel bearings, tire rotations, transmission fluid/filter changes, engine oil changes, grease jobs, tune ups, water pumps, belts, hoses and exhaust work since then. I serviced my parents' and sister's cars.
Back when cars had points and a distributor, I changed points, set ignition timing and dwell, changed countless spark plugs and air filters, adjusted choke coils, replaced carburetors and intake manifolds.
I've swapped a few engines, replaced the main bearings and oil pump in a 3.8 L Buick V6, replaced a clutch in a Ford Ranger pick up truck, swapped a few GM TH-400 automatic transmissions, changed the turbo charger on a 1980 Pontiac 301c.i.d. Trans-Am...

I mount and balance my own motorcycle tires, replace my own sprockets and chains, change engine oil, brake fluid, air filters...

30 years ago, I worked in the shop of a excavation and demolition company and I bought Snap-on tools off the truck that would come around each Friday afternoon.

I consider myself at least semi mechanically inclined.

But I absolutely hate changing the oil in my truck. It didn't help that it's -5 deg F outside, and the garage was just above freezing. Just warm enough to have the ice/snow built up under the truck melt and drip on me as I'm rolling around under it.

The oil filter on GM's 5.3 liter is mounted vertically and recessed a ways up toward the engine block. I have to use a cup style oil filter wrench on a 12" extension. Because of the vertical orientation of the filter and the fact that the truck is up on ramps, oil runs down the sides of the filter as it's being loosened. It drips onto the side of the oil pan, onto the frame and skid pans... It drips down onto my hands, runs up my arms...

Then, the drain plug is positioned horizontally... So when I remove it, 6 quarts of warm oil shoot out almost 2 feet... It's a huge pain to try and catch it in a drain pan. After a few seconds the flow slows down and the oil falls almost vertically... Better keep an eye on things or the oil will be falling on the floor and not in the pan(that's happened more than once)...

On 2 of my motorcycles the oil filter is horizontal and the drain plugs are vertical. When I loosen the oil filters, oil drips out in a single, easy to catch, stream. The oil drains from the sump straight down.... No messes, no spills, no surprises. Oh, if everything in life were that easy!

To top it all off, I spilled a bunch of the drain oil as I was pouring it into my 7 gallon waste oil container! The last time I brought my drain oil into town to recycle it, the place I took it to wouldn't take all my oil. Their tank was full. I had to bring home nearly half my old oil. I knew it would be close, but I over filled the container and made a mess on the garage floor. I had to find a milk jug to pour the last of the oil into. I'll be taking the oil in this week... I hope they have room for it all this time.

Sorry for whining, but I feel better now... or for at least the next 3000 miles...


  1. Ugh, messy work. I like tinkering around but changing fluids isn't my favourite. Also, in Germany there are (no surprise here) rules against potential contamination, and will be heavily fined. In our rented garage maintenance of any kind is verboten!

  2. Just one more reason I'm glad to have a good mechanic ... and it isn't ever going to be me. But I know you enjoy it, really!

  3. I agree with Sonja, ugh messy work. I think if it was that much of a hassle I'd just take it to the shop. You know you can do it, but that doesn't mean you have to do it.

    Glad you feel better with a little venting.

  4. I can understand the problem. On my truck, I installed a small ball valve replacing the drain plug which allows me to drain the oil directly into gallon milk jugs. No pan to mess around with at all. After loosening the oil filter (also vertical) I put a gallon zip-lock bag around the filter which catches all of the oil that wants to drip down your arm. When finished, nothing to clean up.

    The motorcycles make more of a mess...

  5. Eric, I'm with you. I'd rather do it myself even if sometimes you make a bit of a mess as you can save yourself big dollars by doing the easy things yourself.

    Happy New Year to you and your wife.

  6. It's minus 2 here with an awful wind.

    I spent $43 yesterday to have a friendly mechanic in a warm shop change my oil, check brakes, fill fluids, etc. I feel really lucky.

  7. I change oil on 3, the last one gets done by people that can reach up, behind and over from beneath......These days I'm only willing (and able?) to go so far.

  8. Happy New Year Eric. I used to change the oil in my cars but now I take them to Mr. Goodlube, $35 bucks with oil and filter, not worth the aggravation. I don't think engineers really think about where the oil goes when you remove the filter or plug or they just don't care. On the Tenere I still do it myself.

  9. great shed setup you have there
    like the tire changing bit
    wish i had one sometimes