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Old 10-05-2003, 07:24 PM   #1
Lil PZEV
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Oil Change Help

Ok, here's my situation: I have never changed a car's oil before, but I'm considering trying to do so for my Focus. I went to the dealer recently and was reading the quick look-up board and it advertised Oil Change for $34.95 + up!! I was beyond shocked, because my first car had always gone to the local mechanic, who charged me no more than 20 and that included filling up any low fluids, not just oil.

I asked him about my car, and apparently since he's in RI, none of their other customers have PZEVs yet... and he doesnt carry the right filter. I feel $35 before tax is obscene for an oil change so I've been wondering, since my car's first is coming up soon if I should do it myself. Here's where I need all the help I can get... so spare no 'stupid' details if you will.

I know I need oil and a filter. That's sort of it. I saw the millions of posts about filters and types of oils from the old forum and someone posted a shot of the underside of the PZEV, showing the oil filter, so I think I could find it alright. What I need to know is what else is required... are there weird-sized wrenches, do I need those stands you drive up on or will the jack do, do I need to buy anything except the oil and filter? I noticed the PZEV engine is more crowded than some I've seen, but if space is a huge issue I do have small hands to work with.

I realize I sound like a big idiot, but I'd rather know exactly what's up before I go assuming I understand more than I do, and get stuck with an oil-leaking busted car. What would you rate this project on a scale of 1-10? And if you think I should just suck it up and pay $35 or bring the right filter to my mechanic, then say so... otherwise any help you can offer would be great! Thanks in advance!


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Old 10-05-2003, 07:30 PM   #2
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www.myfordfocus.com has a how too.... 35 isnt a bad price.. you'll spend about 15 on oil + a filter anyway. out here a synthetic oil change can cost up to 60-70 bucks... a lot of times oil changes are more expensive because of the oil used.
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Old 10-05-2003, 08:17 PM   #3
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Difficulty, on a scale from 1-10, 1 being easy.

Zetec: 3
PZEV: 1

Its real easy. Drain plug is at the bottom, unobstructed. Oil filter is vertical and in the front(not sideways, above half shaft like on the Zetec).

This is the front of the engine:


Real easy to get to. Drain plug is on the back, equally easy.

I usually go to Walmart, and get Mobil-1 there. They carry it pretty cheap, like 4.50 a quart. If you don't want to go synthetic, any 5w20 should do. As for the oil filter, there are none down here, so I had to order mine from a dealer. Its somewhere between 7-10 dollars.
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Old 10-05-2003, 09:39 PM   #4
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Thanks guys... I guess that doesn't sound too bad. Two questions on the How-To page: It mentions ramps or jacks, does that mean a tire jack on both sides or will the one supplied with the car get it high enough? And secondly it says a 3" oil filter wrench... is this any different than your run of the mill 3" craftsman model, and if so is it something easily found at say, Wlamart or Autozone? Thanks again you guys, I appreciate your responses.

And Euro, $60-70 really?? Yikes that seems harsh... I guess I can't complain about $35, I've clearly been spoiled!
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Old 10-06-2003, 12:24 AM   #5
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i got mine changed at the dealer for 50 bucks. but that was the 5000 mile checkup, so i got tires rotated, brakes checked... that kinda stuff
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Old 10-06-2003, 12:33 AM   #6
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I get an oil change and tire rotation for $42 at the dealership, but it takes a couple hours too long so I go to the GM dealer right down the road now, about the same price and only about 20 minutes.
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Old 10-06-2003, 09:37 AM   #7
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Re: Oil Change Help

Quote:
Originally posted by Lil PZEV
... I know I need oil and a filter. That's sort of it. I saw the millions of posts about filters and types of oils from the old forum and someone posted a shot of the underside of the PZEV, showing the oil filter, so I think I could find it alright.

What I need to know is what else is required... are there weird-sized wrenches, do I need those stands you drive up on or will the jack do, do I need to buy anything except the oil and filter? I noticed the PZEV engine is more crowded than some I've seen, but if space is a huge issue I do have small hands to work with.

I realize I sound like a big idiot, but I'd rather know exactly what's up before I go assuming I understand more than I do, and get stuck with an oil-leaking busted car. What would you rate this project on a scale of 1-10? And if you think I should just suck it up and pay $35 or bring the right filter to my mechanic, then say so... otherwise any help you can offer would be great! Thanks in advance!
That shot posted by Egz tells the story of the filter: it is by far the easiest filter to reach that I have ever seen, and being the graybeard here, I have seen a bunch of them.

But first, a word about safety. DO NOT!!!! work under your car if you are using nothing but the factory-supplied jack which is for tire changing only. You are going to need either drive-up ramps or a real hydraulic jack plus a set of jack-stands. Personally, I've never been a big fan of the ramps, but that's just me. In some situations it can be kind of stressful getting the car up on them - sometimes they tend to slide forward, or worse, just one might want to slide so the car goes up unevenly. ATX is a bit easier but all my experience is with manuals. But, the ramps do work once you get used to them and they are both easier and cheaper than a real jack plus jackstands. Not to mention that with a jack, you need to find a good solid place to apply the jacking force, and to a newbie it will not be real obvious where to put it. Same comment for the jackstands, not real obvious where to put them. You NEVER rely on just a jack to hold the car up when you are under it, period, end of story. (Jackstands are heavy-duty tripods with an adjustable post that you use to prop up the car so you are not relying on the hydraulic jack.) One more point: it is absolutely mandatory that you are on perfectly level ground before you jack or ramp the vehicle. This is both for safety and also because you need to be on level ground at the end of the process to adjust final oil level. Once the car is jacked or ramped, use some kind of bricks, blocks, hunks of firewood, whatever, and block the rear wheels so it can't roll - in addition to setting the parking brake.

Okay, whew, sorry to start out so heavy but it is a critical point. Next, you will need an oil filter wrench, plus either a socket wrench or a normal box-end wrench to remove and replace the oil drain plug. I don't know exactly what size the drain plug is... somebody? Anybody? Bueller? I bet it is going to be metric, but that's about as far as I can guess from here at the keyboard. The drain plug should be very easy to find. It will be very close to the bottom of the "oil pan" (which is just the cover on the underside of the engine). Since the idea is to get out as much of the oil as possible, the drain plug is as close to the very bottom as practical, and it's at the back so more oil will flow out because the front of the car jacked up.

Some oil-filter wrenches have a sort of adjustable band that wraps around the filter; others are more like a giant socket wrench that fits over the end of the filter. The giant-socket style is real easy to use, although with the PZEV filter placement just about anything is going to work like a charm. If you are strong enough you may need no wrench at all.

It goes like this: engine should be warm but not hot. Drive up on ramps, or jack and support. If too hot, let it cool for a while. Next, place a drain pan under the drain plug, and remove the plug. Have a rag under the car with you, just because. I also strongly recommend safety glasses - road grime can fall off the underside into your eyes, or the oil may splash around a bit. The drain pan needs to hold about 5 quarts, plus you don't want to fill it to the brim, so it needs to be pretty big. Remove the oil filler cap to help vent the engine and drain quicker. Once it is down to a little drip (they never seem to stop entirely!) replace the drain plug. Not too tight - try to apply just a bit less force than it took to remove. Now pull your drain pan forward to align with the filter. Put your filter wrench on it and remove it. Lefty loosey righty tighty, correct? Removal is always counterclockwise in other words. Hold the filter upright because it will still be full of oil. Some will drip out of the engine too. Now, take your brand-new filter and crack open one of the quarts of fresh oil. Take a little bit of oil and smear it onto the filter gasket (rubber thing). Oh - at this point, take a look at your old filter and make sure the gasket is still on it. They have been known to occasionally come off the filter and stay on the engine, which is a BIG problem if you don't catch it - you end up with two gaskets where only one fits, so one will slip out of position, and cause a catastrophic leak. Okay, now, spin the new filter in place until the gasket contacts the engine, then about another 1/2 turn. Normally, if you have decent strength, you can do this without a wrench. Now, stop and take a breath. Let's see - you have replaced the drain plug, RIGHT? And you have replaced the filter, RIGHT? Okay, then, it's time to put the fresh oil into the engine. You are likely to need, or at least want, a funnel for this part. Put close to the correct amount in. The capacity is in the owner's manual - from memory, it is 4-and-change quarts, close to 5 I think, but don't take my word for it, get the actual number. Put in about 1/3-1/2 quart less than it calls for. Now take it down off whatever you used, ramps or jackstands. Run it for about a minute, which will fill the filter. Now shut it off, let it sit a minute, and check the level with the dipstick. Continue to add until the dipstick tells you it is precisely full.

Congradulations, you just changed your oil.

If you are still excited about doing it yourself, I would strongly suggest you seek the assistance of someone you know and trust who is an old hand at this game to help you out the first time. Again, back to the safety thing one more time, don't ever climb under your car unless there is another competent human being within shouting distance.
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Old 10-06-2003, 08:20 PM   #8
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Thanks!

Haha, thanks Steve (nice choice of car you've got )! Long reply but basically just what I was looking for... there were some things that make sense but I don't think I would intuitively think of them! If I do do it I will make sure someone's there, especially for the first try. Probably gonna end up being my dad now that I think about it... he's got some ramps actually so I guess I could snatch those off him, he hasn't played with the MG in a long time. And I've got an auto, so I guess one bonus is that its easier to get the car up on them. Very helpful comments guys, I appreciate it a lot! We'll see what happens and I'll tell ya if I end up doing it, especially if I get it right! But now, it's time for my Sox to play ball!!
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Old 10-07-2003, 07:47 AM   #9
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Re: Thanks!

Quote:
Originally posted by Lil PZEV
Haha, thanks Steve (nice choice of car you've got )! Long reply but basically just what I was looking for... there were some things that make sense but I don't think I would intuitively think of them! If I do do it I will make sure someone's there, especially for the first try. Probably gonna end up being my dad now that I think about it... he's got some ramps actually so I guess I could snatch those off him, he hasn't played with the MG in a long time. And I've got an auto, so I guess one bonus is that its easier to get the car up on them. Very helpful comments guys, I appreciate it a lot! We'll see what happens and I'll tell ya if I end up doing it, especially if I get it right! But now, it's time for my Sox to play ball!!
You're welcome... ditto on the car choice. It's my daily driver but my wife wanted to choose the color, so she gets the credit. Sorry for the length, but, while an oil change seems like sort of a no-brainer to someone who has done it hundreds of times (cars, trucks, motorcycles, tractors, lawnmowers, power equipment...) when you get down to it, the task really is the sum of a lot of little details so I gave you the whole nine yards.

Sox fan? You're a happy camper this morning!
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Old 10-07-2003, 01:25 PM   #10
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Oh I'm beyond psyched! GO to school about 30 minutes outside Boston too, so it was nuts. I'm a diehard (only way to be!), I bleed, well... Red, literally! ha, not funny. WHere's Sterling, west or east Connecticut? One of my roomies is from Norwalk, and another from Cheshire... both Yankees fans so we're on rough terms right now!!
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