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Chevrolet Cobalt General Care & Maintenance

I just picked my 2006 Cobalt LTZ, and I noticed that the electric coolant fan runs at startup even though the water temp. is about 75 degrees! Is this normal? It seems strange to me. Can anyone PLEASE advise me? Also, where is the darn oil filter located at?? I have a 2.2 eng.,sedan. Thank you... Harvey


  • prdmprdm Posts: 145
    If you have the HVAC controls set to defrost and it's warm enough the AC will turn on and with it the fan. Otherwise fan shouldn't run at start up. The oil filter is under that plastic shroud on driver's side of engine. You're looking for a ~3 inch black plastic cap with a large hexagon nut on top. The cartridge filter is underneath.
  • airmn65airmn65 Posts: 14
    Hello, NO I did not have the defroster or the AC controls on. The heat was set to warm! When I backed out into the driveway, I checked the fan again and it was off!! Very strange for sure, but thanks for the help and also for your help with the oil filter.. Take care.
  • airmn65airmn65 Posts: 14
    I called the service dept. about that fan...He said that the fan MAY go on in my gararge because its 70 to 75 degrees in there. My furnace is in there also. Does that make sense or am I crazy??!! I've been a mechanic all my life and I think the fan should come on at about 195 dergees or so, which it reaches very quickly!!
    Any thoughts? I DO love the car though!!! WOW!!
  • I could be talkin' through my hat, but I believe the oil filter is in a canister on the front right side of the engine as you are facing it. I have a 2004 Cavalier, and since the Cobalt shares the same engine, a good guess would be the same location. One of the easiest oil changes you will ever do!! Just remove the top cover, and be sure to install the new filter in the same manner as removing the old.
  • airmn65airmn65 Posts: 14
    Thank you Johnny for the advise...Yes I think you are right about the oil filter, as others have told me the same thing. Now I just gotta figure out why the coolant fan comes on at low temps or at startup. The dealer says thats normal???!!!! Hmmmm! Well take care.
  • wallstfunwallstfun Posts: 12
    How To Change The Oil In Your Chevrolet Cobalt

    When your ready to change the oil in your Chevy Cobalt you'll discover that the Cobalt uses an oil filter cartridge instead of the normal oil filter canister that you screw on.

    1. When Do I Change My Oil? While many times the manufacturer recommends changing your oil every 3,000 miles or so, the Cobalt actually has a computer that uses a working algorithm to calculate the use of your oil based on how much you drive, how fast you drive, and how quickly you accelerate. With the computer you only need to change your oil when the "Change Oil Soon" messages appears on your message board. I myself change my oil every 3,000 miles or 4 months reguardless of what the oil life is.

    2. What materials do I need? You will need 5 Quarts of 5W/30, an oil filter (cartridge) for your car, a #15 metric wrench, a tool to take loose the oil filter plug, old rags, an oil pan, and a funnel.

    3. Make sure the engine is warm Get all of your tools together, purchase the oil and filter, and then drive your car around awhile to get your engine warm. If your heater is blowing out hot air then you are good. This gets your engine oil thinned out which will make it easier to drain.

    4. Drain your oil Put your drain pan under the car's oil pan and loosen the bolt using the metric wrench. Just loosen the bolt first, unless you wish to have your hand drenched in burning hot oil (remember, you just drove it around to get it hot). Once you loosen the bolt with the wrench, you can continue to turn the bolt with your fingers, holding it tight until your ready to pull the plug out and let it drain. Make sure your aim is correct and you pull it quick or you could get oil all over the floor, your hand, your face, or anything else that is in the way. Remember you just drained the oil out of your car, so good luck getting to the emergency room if you burn your face off.

    5. Change your filter While you let your oil drain, go ahead and get under the hood of the car. Once you pull the oil cap off you can pull off the big plastic cover that sits over the engine. It isn't bolted down, so all you have to do is lift up on it and it will come right off. Once the plastic cover is removed, you will be able to see the canister where the filter goes. It's silver, it hangs directly off the side of the engine, closest to the front of the car, and the top of it has a black, plastic plug that you can remove by turning it with a socket or a wrench, but let me tell you it takes a big one. If you don't have a socket that fits, then you can be creative and try to get it loosened another way. Be careful, don't ruin or bust the plastic top. Once you get it unscrewed, just lift up on the black plug and the filter will come right out with it. Put the new filter in. Make sure the filter canister is empty, and then put it back into the canister and tighten it up.

    6. Put your oil plug back in and fill it up Once it's finished draining, put your oil plug back in and tighten it. Now that your filter is in and your oil plug is in, your next step is to put your new oil in the engine. This is where the funnel comes in handy.

    7. Start it up and check for leaks Once you have filled your car with the proper amount of oil you need to start it up and make sure it isn't leaking or dripping from the oil plug or from the filter canister. If everything is tight you shouldn't have a problem.

    8. Reset your computer As soon as your oil is changed you need to reset your computer. Read the manual on your Cobalt to figure it out... it is easy.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    That's very helpful, thank you. :)
  • airmn65airmn65 Posts: 14
    Great info on the oil change..Thank you! I was wondering how that plastic eng. cover is removed. Now I know. I love my Cobalt and I like to do myown work when I changes, but I was not sure how to remove that cover!!lol.
    Thanks again wallstfun. Take care.
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    Great summary on the oil change. I would just add the following:

    1. Inspect the condition of the threads on your drain plug bolt at every change. If in doubt replace it (they cost about $4.50;its probably a good idea a spare around, both in case you ever need to actually replace the old one, and to compare conditions).

    2. Wipe off the magnetic tip (if your drain plug comes with one - the spare I bought does) on the drain plug.

    3. Make sure the drain plug bolt threads are clean - no debris. Wiping off the threads with a shop rag ISN'T a good idea (unless you dropped the plug in some leaves etc.) because even a clean rag can actually introduce debris - coming out of the oil pan, your plug should only have old oil on it, and the "particles" in used oil are so microscopic they don't need wiping off. If in doubt, spray off the threads with WD40 or similar. For the same reason don't wipe off the oil pan drain hole threads (but you SHOULD have wiped the area surrounding the drain plug bolt, and the exterior of the bolt, before removing it in the first place).

    4. Gently put the drain plug bolt back in - it should thread in WITHOUT ANY FORCE, by hand, nice and easy. If it feels at all sluggish, it might going in "cross-threaded" so back it out and adjust it (shift it around) until you can easily thread it in by hand; it should be really easy. No wrench, no socket.

    5. Tighten the drain plug as firmly as you can BY HAND, NO WRENCH. THEN put the wrench on and turn it 1/4 to 1/8 of a turn further - no further than that, even if it didn't take much force to turn it that far. Double check by trying to unscrew it with your fingers. It shouldn't move (unless you have one heck of a grip). If your grip is weak, it's ok to use the wrench to tighten it the last part, but count the 1/4 to 1/8 turn from the point where the drain plug bolt face first contacts the oil pan face. I emphasize not overtightening since drain plug bolts are steel, pans are aluminum, and guess which one strips first? And guess how much pans cost? (Around $500?.)

    6. Topside, don't overtighten the filter top. It's only plastic and doesn't call for a death grip tighten. With plastic threads, it's easier to strip it than you think. But this is not as costly a mistake as stripping the drain pan below, since the filter top is relatively cheap to replace.

    It's a good idea to carry a spare drain plug in any car you own, and a little Loctite non-permanent gasket sealer. That way if you have an oil leak (hopefully only after thousands and thousands of miles of driving and many, many oil changes) you will have a plug handy, no matter where you stop for service. On the Cobalt, the same thing with the top plate over the oil filter. If an aggressive mechanic at a non-GM shop breaks it, you have a (cheap) replacement ready to go. If you do oil changes on Saturday and there's time to get the factory part from a nearby dealer (if they stock it) it might not be so bad, but imagine a Sunday oil change and an overtightening mistake.

    Even if you don't do your own oil changes, carrying in a drain plug and asking them to swap plugs (notch one with a file so you can tell them apart)lets you monitor the condition of the drain plug and its o-ring. Treated right, the original drain plug SHOULD go the life of the car. If you see problems developing, there should still be plenty of time to save your oil pan (with a new plug, an oversized plug, or "thread savers").

    In terms of topping off the oil after a filter change, add 4.5 quarts (or a little less than the manual indicates for an oil and filter change). Don't worry about what the dipstick shows - it SHOULD show a little low, because it takes about 15 minutes, at least, for your oil to drain down to the oil pan. Either re-check it in the morning after parking it all night, or at least 15 minutes later, and it should be ok; if not, add a little more oil and you will have a better sense of how much to add next time. But do check the dipstick before quitting on your oil change. One of the common errors people make is to undercount or overcount the number of bottles of oil they are using. Count them going in, then double check your count when you put the empties in the trash. Unless you have a bullet proof memory, check the number of quarts you use against the owner's manual each time. Most small cars take 4.5, but some take less, some take more. You can write the number down with a marking pen some inconspicuous place on the hood, trunk hood, or door jamb so you don't have to pull the manual.

    Be careful about the oil filler cap. These often get forgotten at the end of an oil change. Have a mental checklist of "D'oh!'s" to go through.

    As for changing the oil more fequently than the oil life monitor (OLM or DIC computer) indicates, I do the same. There are a couple of points here: First, consider doing the "extra" oil change when the OLM indicates 50% remaining life, instead of by mileage - the OLM takes into account YOUR driving habits and conditions, so why not let it work for you? Second, don't reset the computer after an intermediate oil change, since the current owner's manual ties inspections and minor services to the OLM indicator life, NOT to mileage anymore (which will save you money with less frequent services). So you need the OLM to be a "maintenance clock," not just an oil change indicator. Third, consider whether an oil filter change is necessary during the intermediate oil changes. I would do it every time with a conventional cannister oil filter, but the filter in the Cobalt lets all the oil drain out - when you chuck that naked element, you are really not getting much extra oil out. Since GM engineered the oil filter for FULL OLM indicated life, why not leave it in until the OLM really says you need an oil change (for this reason I will probably use only a GM branded oil filter, not aftermarket).

    Finally, the engine shroud is "plugged on" in the lower right hand corner and upper left hand corner. Don't twist the cover by pulling up on only one corner; try to lift the whole thing straight up (or wiggle one side up then the other). It's just a metal prod with a rubber donut on each side.

    BTW, I got a computer calculated 36.5 mpg and a manually calculated 33.62 mpg on my first tank of gas! I figure the discrepancy in mileage figures is the result of a small variation in the fills between the full tank I got from the dealer, and my own first fill up. This is great mileage for a very quick car!
  • rico13rico13 Posts: 2
    The OLM on my daughter's Cobalt has expired and the council display reads "change oil soon". In this case should the oil filter be changed and is it located under the engine shroud you mentioned? Most auto parts stores carry Fram or other brands of filters, not necessarily GM. Is there a significant problem using one of these? Lastly, the manual provides instructions that the OLM should be reset when performing an oil change. Would you consider this a good time to reset the OLM? Thanks for your assistance.
  • rico13rico13 Posts: 2
    Can this oil filter cartridge be purchased at a local auto parts store or is it a dealer item? Thanks for your assistance.
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    My honest recommendation is to go to Wallyworld or an autoparts store, buy your favorite oil, then call around a few Chevy dealers to find out (i) do they have a quick oil change lane (some do), (ii) how much is their oil change, and (iii)do they have any specials that include a multipoint inspection (21 point etc.) (which is essentially a look-see under the hood and under the carriage). Then carry in your own oil to your dealer of choice and get the oil change, usually with a $5 credit for bringing in your own oil.

    You just can't beat a dealer for oil changes, especially on a new car during warranty period. They use a factory filter (after market filters are generally ok, but if something goes wrong, you have two companies to deal with in terms of their warranty, and the filter company needs to come out and inspect their filter and write up a claim, whereas if the dealer installs a filter that fails, they take care of it). I used to get mad when dealers tried to upsell me on services before the owner's manual called for them, or for services that don't even exist in the owner's manual (like power steering fluid flushes), or for additives when every reputable oil company says DON'T USE ADDITIVES (snake oil). But I've learned the power of a friendly "no." And the value of keeping all your potential warranty/damage (stripped oil pan?) claims under one reputable roof.

    About the only negatives of a dealer oil change are - it's generally about $10 more than a Wallyworld oil change (but comparable to Jiffy Lube etc.); and it isn't always as convenient.

    BTW, the Fram etc. filters for the Cobalt, even at Wallyworld, are about $7.50, not much less than the dealer's filter, I believe.

    If you are committed to DIY, you need to gently lift up the diagonal corners (upper left, lower right) to get the shroud off the engine, and on your lower right you will see a black plastic top, about the size of the top of an old fashioned coffee can, with a large "bolt" on top - the bolt is just a large molded piece to apply your wrench to - it's oversize since the top is plastic. Your drop in filter lives under there. Some filter kits, I've heard, include a new 0-ring, most don't.

    BTW, general consensus among oil fans, is that if you are going to change oil by the OLM, you should use a good quality oil. Some us us prefer full synthetics, but if you want a lot of the quality of a synthetic for a much lower price, the Conoco line of oils are now reportedly 50% full synthetic, with the other 50% being a good quality Group II base stock. Kendall, 76, TropArtic, Motorcraft are all made by Conoco; all satisfy the somewhat obscure GM oil spec (which is concerned with low temperature pourability, really only an issue with a solvent refined, Group I, dino oil). I get TropArtic for $1.52 a bottle at Wallyworld (I use it in our PT Cruiser, which gets 3,000 mile oil changes due to my wife's very short trips), cheaper than Pennzoil/Castrol/Chevron.

    Another well-regarded non-synthetic is Halvoline, very cheap in jugs at Wallyworld. Then you have Chevron Supreme (probably similar to Halvoline, since they are both owned by Chevron now); Pennzoil; Castrol; Quaker State. Rumor has it, that Goodwrench branded oil is Mobil Clean 5,000, an ok but not great conventional oil - thinking being there are better conventional oils for the money.

    In terms of resetting the oil life monitor, it is quite easy to do and the method is in that little "brochure" style quickie owner's manual in your glove box. But, yet another reason to go to the dealer, alternate "OLM resets" are used to determine the frequency of minor services, instead of 7,500/15,000 miles. So theoretically on the second OLM reset, you are supposed to have a minor inspection and tire rotation (check your manual). Certainly the OLM should be reset when you do the oil change, regardless of who does it, just remember at the next OLM reset you need to do the inspections noted in your manual.
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    I forgot to mention, that the "multipoint inspection," usually free, cover most of what your minor services call for. AND, on the Cobalt, there are NO major service items that I noted, for non-severe driving, until you hit 100K miles.
  • poncho167poncho167 Posts: 1,178
    I would avoid the Fram oil filters. I have known and recently read on another forum that these filters have poor debris catching internals, and cut-offs show inadequate protection in comparison to a stock AC/Delco oil filter cut-off.

    Yes, I have also heard Mobile oil is the base AC/Delco oil.
  • cogukcoguk Posts: 7
    The Mobil Clean 5000 is not Goodwrench oil. It is one of Mobil's new oils - a 'superior' conventional oil that has additives in it. The additives protect your engine parts better, and they make it last longer than regular oil - 5000 miles (as the name suggests). That's why it cost a few cents more.

    When you think about the fact that your Cobalt engine is designed to be driven for five years or 150,000 miles (whichever comes first) before replacing the coolant, for 100,000 miles before changing the spark plugs and, based on driving conditions, without ever changing the automatic transmission fluid ... it doesn't seem so strange that you can go 5000 miles before changing the oil! ;)
  • airmn65airmn65 Posts: 14
    Hi, I have a 2006 LTZ, 2.2 auto...Have any of you noticed high coolant temps? I have seen mine go up to between 212 to 219 degrees and I think it kind of high!! I know that the coolant is flowing because the outlet hose gets hot after awhile. Also the temp. hits 130 degrees in about 3 to 4 minutes of idleing. Anybody have any thoughts on this? Also...I do not see a thermostat housing!! Does the Cobalt have a thermostat??
    I'd appreciate any input here. Thanks!!
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    You must be reading the temperature from the digital display. I have the same temperature readings - 189 normal, up to 220 etc when in stop and go traffic. I think it's normal. At least the Cobalt is honest. For years people have been telling me that the "dials" on most cars have been "normalized" to never fluctuate unless you are in the danger zone - in other words, they are like idiot lights. The Cobalt actually gives you temperature. It's a feature, not a problem.

    I know nothing about the thermostat location but it's got to have one, or it wouldn't warm up fast enough and it wouldn't comply with modern emissions standards (which usually require a quick warmup).

    BTW posting the same question multiple times in a short period doesn't really help. It takes time for people to read new posts, and some people check in really infrequently. Your car is under warranty, you can always ask your service advisor a question (it pays to make friends with your service advisor, donuts early in the morning works wonders).
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    I think airmn65 is just trying to get this post under his own user ID.

    Airmn65 I've asked someone to look at this. Hope we can figure it out.
  • airmn65airmn65 Posts: 14
    Thank you micweb for your very good info and for your reply. I DO feel better knowing that the temp. is normal. Its true, I've always had a gauge without numbers, or an idiot light in the past. Now I see how things REALLY are!
    Sorry for posting my message many times and I hope it didn't seem silly. YES I did want to post my proper name, so thanks again for your great help... Airmn65
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    It certainly was an eye opener for me to see how the actual temperatures can vary. What has been a big surprise is that on a hot day cruising on the freeway, with or without aircon, the temperature is very stable, but on a cool day, early in the morning, on city streets the temperature kept spiking. So I guess that is why the oil companies say to change oil more frequently if you do city driving, it is actually harder on the operating temperature, at least, than high speed freeway driving.

    I am now curious to see what happens to operating temperature if I drive up one of those grades (grapevine north of LA, for example) where they tell you to turn off your aircon to prevent overheating.

    The Cobalt is a neat little car. I have 1900 miles on my stick shift coupe now, and am just beginning to get a feel for the engine. For example, it accelerates briskly from 50-75 in 5th gear if I give it some throttle - compared to my former stick shift rides, Focii ZX3, which usually required a downshift to 4th to get moving. Obviously GM (generous motors) was pretty good to us to give us a 145 hp 2.2 engine instead of the 120-136 hp engines common to most of these cars.

    It's also reassuring to see the side impact tests, which indicate a very strong body structure (but I do wish side curtain airbags were standard on all these cars).
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