The Last Oil Change


I can't say I actually enjoyed it, but for the past three decades I have changed my own oil on two of our cars. Yesterday, I did it for the last time because we are selling the Camry to make way for the new Subaru. And I have no intention of doing any work on a 2014 vehicle. Hell, I have never touched our 2003 Acura, either.

Changing oil on an older car isn't too difficult though, but it is messy. I liked doing it because I could use the higher-end synthetic oil and not have it cost me $75+ for an oil change! And, I could do it safely, without jacking up the car and risk the thing crushing me. There's enough clearance under a '92 Camry that you can just slide under there, unscrew the plug and let it drain.

Never in those three decades did I make the mistake I made yesterday. I did not position the oil pan correctly and all of the oil spilled directly onto the garage floor. Ugh... Off to Shopko for cat litter and that pretty much sopped it up.

Otherwise, the experience over the years has been pretty uneventful, with the exception of the time all of the oil leaked out of my '85 Toyota Tercel and fried the engine. Yeah, that was a heart breaker.

On every oil filter there is a rubber ring that seals the filter to the engine. When I replaced my filter after an oil change, unbeknownst to me, that black rubber gasket came off the filter and stayed on the car's filter mount. When I put a new filter on after the oil change, I had no leaks and I thought all was fine, as per usual. But when the car heated up, rubber on rubber doesn't seal and the oil just squirted out. (The new filter has a rubber ring, too).

Perhaps the most notable takeaway from this experience is that it truly is nearly impossible for a regular person to do any maintenance on a modern car. You'd have to take off all kinds of stuff to get near plugs or hoses or oil filters or... It's just not worth it, and there's too much at risk if you screw something up. This is a distinct possibility for me, as I managed to find trouble on the simplest of cars!

No, I happily give up my oil filter wrench, messy pans and appropriately-fitted ratchet. And I certainly won't miss dumping off my waste oil and supplies at the Badger Road drop-off site. What I will miss is being able to do something with my car without having to rely totally on a mechanic.

Posted on February 21, 2014 .