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Don't overlook the details of performing an oil change

Thursday, November 1, 2018 - 07:00
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No substitute for “right”

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After the filter and drain plug are taken care of, the vehicle is let down and the correct oil specified for the engine is installed. Using the correct oil along with the proper level is a very important step. Today’s engines are very expensive and not using the correct oil, or under- or over-filling the crankcase can become a very costly repair.

In my shop, we prefer to use Pennzoil (Figure 3), LiquiMoly (Figure 4), Motul (Figure 5), Pentosin or in some cases the OE oil to ensure the proper oil for the application. We always make sure that the oil meets the required specifications for the engine it is going in. Before we pour the oil in the engine, we use one of our many special oil funnels to prevent any spills. After the oil is poured in, we leave the funnel in place with a rag on top of it and start the engine. The oil indicator, light or gauge is observed for proper operation and then the engine is shut off and the oil level is rechecked. If the vehicle does not have a dip stick, we follow the OEM procedure, usually using a scan tool, to make sure the oil temperature and level are correct. Once that procedure is completed we make up an oil sticker on our oil sticker machine and install it on the upper left hand corner of the windshield.

Figure 3 Figure 4 Figure 5

We are not done yet, now comes the difficult part if you are not familiar with the vehicle you just change the oil on. Since most new vehicles have an oil change, tire rotation or maintenance reset procedure you have to either go through a dash or infotainment screen and perform the dance. Most vehicles are easy but there are some Euros and other vehicles that are a real pain. On some vehicles the reset can be performed with a scan tool or you can look it up in service information. There are also apps that provide reset information; Oil Reset Pro, Reset Oil, and Pro Reset Oil Service among others. So, an oil change that was once a quick simple service has become a more difficult and time consuming process.

Maintenance lamp reset — the easy to the difficult

The easy? GM has a procedure where you select Info until you see Remaining Oil Life, and then press the SEL button until you see Oil Life. After a beep is heard the Oil Life will be reset to 100 percent and you’re done. Now that’s nice and easy, the way it should be.

Now let’s turn the wheel to an oil reset that is on a difficult vehicle. On many early Mercedes Benz products, it’s like a game of spinning the wheel and hoping you land on the right spot. Well maybe it’s not that bad once you’ve done it a couple of times, but you don’t know it until you have done it. The following is an example of a Mercedes E class that uses the steering wheel control buttons that you need to know the proper procedure on. First, may I suggest that you must make sure that the trunk lid, liftgate, hood and doors are closed in order for the procedure to work. Your next step is to make sure the ignition is in the on position, engine not running.

Now you’re ready to press the Page In button that is located of the left side of the steering wheel until Temperature is displayed on the dash. This is followed by pressing the Reset button that is located to the left on the instrument cluster. The cluster should now display UB 12.1 or so, next return to the left side of the steering wheel and press the Down Arrow. The Service Menu will now be displayed, now get ready to switch to the right side of the steering wheel and press the – (Minus) button until Confirmation is highlighted. This is followed by going back to the Page In button on the left side of the steering wheel until you see Full Service. Don’t worry you’re almost done, press the Page In button again until you see Service Confirmed, now you can turn the ignition off and go back and see that the oil life is reset. It makes you wonder why any car company would make it so complicated. Thank God most of the newer vehicle are easier and many have the function to be reset right through the scan tool or oil reset tools.

Figure 6

On many of the higher end, newer vehicles that we service there is an extra step since the engine does not have an oil dip stick. So besides from just filling the oil up and just checking the level on the dip stick, the engine operation temperature has to be up to the correct level. There is also a wait time before checking the oil level either on the vehicle display, or by a scan tool. I like using the scan tool since it allows easy access to changing the date, miles, light reset and oil level. Now this is not to say that we don’t double check the oil level by using the vehicle’s oil level display, since this is how the vehicle owner is going to check it. The procedure on a Porsche, for example, can vary from using the console control knob or the steering wheel to display the oil level information. The display has the following: oil level OK, minimum oil level reached, oil level below minimum, oil level above maximum. The important thing on this vehicle is the eye candy display (Figure 6) that will indicate if the oil level is correct. It’s a good idea to stay on the lower end of the oil level required amount. Pouring in just under the specified amount is the way to go since it’s easier to pour more in than removing extra oil. Too much or too little oil can cause engine running issues or even damage. The extra time it takes to double check is well worth it when your dealing with any vehicle — never mind this expensive engine.

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