Monday, April 18, 2011

Wentworth's first oil change

As the original intention of this blog was to document my ownership in addition to my fuel economy notes, here's a rundown on Wentworth's first oil change.

It happened to be my first solo oil change(!). A friend who's building his own car and likes to do some racing showed me how to change the oil on one of his cars. That same weekend he also showed me how his car can go 0-60 in about 4 seconds, and what it's like to travel over 100 mph (which was awesome!), though of those three things the oil change seemed the only thing in common with the Prius that I could try myself.

I should mention that this thread on Priuschat was also a great resource.

Clearance is quite low on the Prius, and being difficult to get to the car's floor jack point(s), I forewent my neighbor's borrowed hydraulic jack and instead bought a pair of Rhino Ramps 8000 for about $47 total with tax, which I'll be able to use for many years. It was easy to get up on the ramps, and didn't scrape as far as I could tell.

This last pic also shows Wentworth's wonderful makeshift grill blocking. Better contains heat in the engine and allow it to warm up faster in cooler weather - for better mileage, of course!

I needed a 14mm socket for the wrench. (don't bother reading the computer screen in the background, it's just this post in the works!)

Now under the car we can see the oil drain plug (and a bunch of rust, that's for another day, though).

This thing was on tight. I believe it had only been previously changed at the dealer by the first owner, and being the skinny, opposite of brawny sort of guy I am, after struggling with it for awhile, I had this terrible feeling that after buying the filters and "crushable" washers in bulk that I'd have to go to the dealer anyway to get it changed.

My dad suggested gently hitting the end of the wratchet wrench with a hammer, or warming up the engine for two minutes, but luckily I found a slightly longer wrench before I had to try any of this. All it needed was a little more leverage, and it came off no problem.

I then saw why Hobbit suggests unloading the suspension on the driver's side for an oil change. It took forever to drip out, what seemed like much longer than when my friend showed me on his car, and would've drained much more quickly if it were tilted a little bit. Not an option with the ramps, though, so no big deal, just took longer.

Then came the filter. I had bought an oil filter wrench which conveniently attaches to a ratchet.

Oil filter and filter wrench (and Mac!).

On the ratchet.

Fits right onto the filter.

On the car, the filter's really wedged up there. Not really knowing what the hoses around it do, I just tried not to touch anything else!

At first it wasn't working too well, and there were a couple minutes of medium level panic when I thought I wouldn't get the filter off after draining the engine of all its lube (ruh-roh!), but in the end it worked out. There's no possible way that would've come off by hand - the oil filter wrench was essential.

I also learned a valuable lesson (which I'm sure all of you know - humor the newbie with some laughter): push UP on the oil filter while unscrewing it to keep the gasket sealed so that it doesn't drip all over you as you continue to unscrew it. Oil covered hands after the filter...

Drain plug back on with a new washer, new oil filter with a little oil smeared around the gasket snugly hand tightened to avoid the ├╝ber-tightness of the dealer, and in went three quarts of 5w-30 up top. Since it's almost summer and since my engine has been used to it for almost four years, I'm going to stick with that weight even though we've heard recently 0w-20 is alright even on older model Prii. No need to make my car the test case.

I then ran the engine for a minute, then let the oil settle so I could check the level and add a bit more.

Cleanup as I waited for the oil to drain into the pan:

The oil ended up so light on the dipstick that I couldn't tell where it went up to, so I may skip this in the future. I put in another half quart. Today after I drove somewhere, I checked it and found it slightly below the top dot, so it appears 3.5 quarts is absolutely perfect for the 2004-2009 second Gen Prius (mine is 2007), I'll just aim for that in the future.

All done!

Such a cool little beast under there. Can't wait to try the transaxle fluid at some point...

Altogether a good deal. Took me way longer than everyone else in the world, being my first time, but learned a lot, and it didn't cost much. Filter from a pack of 10 was $4.80 total, and $1.40 for the drain plug washer. Oil was oil. Easily under $20 for the change, and was a lot of fun!

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