Oil changes are one of the most important maintenance tasks for any vehicle owner.  It is one of the few tasks that you can do yourself, without the need for a professional mechanic.  But while oil changes are relatively straightforward if you have a bit of knowledge and confidence, it’s not uncommon for people to make mistakes.

Let’s look at some of the most common mistakes people make, that way you can avoid the same mistakes yourself.


Mistake 1. Using the wrong type of oil

There are a number of motor oils on the market that each have their own set of benefits: synthetic, high mileage etc.. One brand can also have different viscosity to another, but choosing one over the other can not only be beneficial, it can be harmful too.

If you use motor oil that is too thin for instance then your engine parts may not be sufficiently lubricated and wear prematurely; if an oil is thin can also leak through seals. If the oil is too thick then there can be an increase in friction which can lead to a degradation in engine performance.

Always use the engine oil recommended by your manufacturer – if you are not sure what this is, speak to a professional mechanic.


Mistake 2. Over or under filling

Too much or too little engine oil can reduce performance and increase wear and friction.

Always use the amount of oil recommended by your vehicle manufacturer


Mistake 3. Not replacing the oil cap

As silly as this may sound, it’s easy to forget to replace the oil cap; if this happens then you may end up with oil spraying all over your engine, and its components will not be lubricated and grind together. Some cars will let you know something isn’t right by showing the check engine light, but don’t rely on it.


Mistake 4. Not putting the filter back properly

It’s common for people to not put the oil filter back properly, which can lead to dirty and leaking oil. This may sound like a ludicrous mistake, but it happens; and you really don’t want the mess that ensues if it does.


Mistake 5. Damaging drain plug threads

This is perhaps the most damaging of all the mistakes you can make when changing your own engine oil.

Many modern vehicles have drain plugs made of soft metals such as aluminum that strip easily. It’s vital that anyone changing the oil takes care when handling it. If you use too much force then you can end up with an improper seal and that’s not good news for your engine.

A stripped oil drain plug can lead to slow-leaks which may not be immediately obvious. Since there’s no oil protecting your engine the parts can grind together and become damaged. Eventually your engine may just fail altogether, so don’t take the drain plug lightly. If you are not confident opening and closing the plug, seek help from a trained mechanic.

Though in theory you can do your oil change yourself, when you consider the potential problems and hassle you can face, it’s often best left to the professionals.  After all oil changes are inexpensive and almost always included as standard in any service.
Now you know the most common mistakes people make when changing their own motor oil. So what some people might consider to be an easy maintenance task can pose a wide range of risks. If you are not 100% confident then always seek the help of a professional oil change service. Fred’s Auto Center also provides oil changes as part of our full-service gas station.

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