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Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Oil Change

After yesterdays tire changing endeavor, I received another lesson in basic automotive maintenance today: how to change the oil.

Since it's getting colder, we needed a heavier motor oil. We got a 5-qt jug of 5W-30 to replace the summer blend of 10W-30 that my hubby put in just before I gave birth in the spring. I had watched him do that job, and now I wanted to do it myself under his supervision.

After getting the necessary items (oil, fuel filter, drain pan, wrenches, mat to lay down on, jacks) and opening the hood, I jacked the car up and put the safety jacks underneath the frame so that if for whatever reason the car slipped off the main jack, 4000+ lbs of steel death wouldn't come crashing down on me. Unfortunately, staring at and imagining 4000+ lbs of car crushing me was all I could think of as I lay down on the mat searching for the oil pan. My hubby offered to do it, but I told him no. I needed to face this fear or else I would be forever beholden to someone else for the purpose of changing the oil. My hubby got down with me and pointed out where the pan was, and where the bolt plug was too. He started the bolt and told me to unscrew it, but to be careful not to lose the bolt in the oily deluge that came pouring out into the drain pan. I carefully unscrewed the bolt, trying to keep my hand as far out of the way of the oil drip as I could. Though we had been home for about an hour by this point, I wasn't sure how hot the oil would be and I didn't want to find out by burning my hand. Fortunately, the oil was warm, but not hot and I triumphantly cheered as I pulled out the bolt and held it high for my husband to see. He was watching the baby as she played on a blanket in the grass, and told me the baby was imitating my victorious cheer.

Me, holding up the oily plug like a pro. Pic found here

After taking a few minutes break to let the oil finish draining, it was time to change the fuel filter. My hubby acquired a strap wrench for the purpose of loosening the filter. I had never used such a tool before, and my husband gave me a crash course in using it. However, when I tried to use it on the old filter, I could not get the wrench to grip the old filter! It didn't help that the filter is positioned at an odd angle, so it's kinda hard to get to. My hubby gave me a rag to try and loosen it, which I tried, but just could not unscrew the old filter. With daylight fading, my hubby told me to go tend the baby as she had begun to fuss and that he would finish the job. I was disappointed, but the baby was fussing for me. As for the gorilla-ed oil filter, he managed to unscrew the damn thing with his bare hands. Again, he has muscles, I don't.

I was not going to handle the baby with dirty oil-covered hands, so after washing them a few times with the laundry soap we use to launder diapers, I went back outside to tend to her. By this time, some of our neighbors were passing by and upon seeing me with the baby, they just had to come over and see her. Pretty soon, a small crowd of nanas (Mexican grandmothers) had gathered at the gate to see the baby and play with her. My husband ended up finishing the oil change by pouring in the new motor oil and topping up the fluids.

Despite my disappointment at not being able to complete the oil change, my hubby promised me the next time the oil needed changing, he would have me do it from start to finish under his supervision. As I told some of the neighbors who passed by and saw me under the car, I had to learn how to change the oil cuz like changing a tire, it's costly to be beholden to someone else to do it. Likewise, it will likely fall on me to instruct our children in basic auto maintenance when they're old enough. It's not "dirty work", it's empowerment by taking one more step towards self-sufficiency.

1 comment:

  1. There is nothing as powerful as being self sufficient and independent. This is the most exciting story I have ever read. Do-it-yourself is principles that can help one save a lot of time and money in equal measure. Women should brave themselves to do some of these male jobs if they want to remain self sufficient and taking small steps towards learning is a good start.

    Abraham Yates @ Apache Oil Company