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  • catamcatam Posts: 331
    I have heard the arguement that doing it yourself doesn't really save you any money. This may be true for the fortunate few who really make more than $100/ hr and would be getting paid to work instead of doing car repair.
    For the rest of us this just isn't true.
    Even the simplest of tasks (ie oil change), you will save both time and money. Doing my own oil changes costs me about $7.50, plus about 30-45 minutes. (I plan ahead enough that I pick up the oil and filter when I am at Walmart for any other reason.)
    Unless you live next door to your auto shop and know the owner, it takes more time to drive to/back from the repair shop, not to mention the 30 min or more you sit in their waiting room doing nothing, then the bill $19.95.
    Even the tough jobs, (ie replacing a clutch), last one I did took me around 5 hours labor and the clutch kit cost $135.
    If I remember right the price I was quoted on replacement by a shop was $900. And they couldn't guarantee same day replacement.
    Lets see, time to and from the shop for both me and wife in 2 vehicles (cause I need a ride home and back) 1 hour for each of us. That leaves 3 hours of my time used at a savings of $765. That works out to $255 per hour for my time. Man if I only made that at my job.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    I have subscribed to that logic for many years. For me, doing some wrenching helps to keep life real. That's just another bonus for DIY folks.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Now wait a sec.

    To change the oil you have to:

    Go buy the oil and filter

    Change your clothes, jack up the car maybe, capture the oil, do the filter, etc. etc.

    Then you have to take the oil somewhere and dispose of it.

    Now 4-5 quarts of oil and a filter have got to cost you more than $7.50, and the total time it takes has got to be more than 45 minutes, don't you think, if you put it all down on paper?

    Sounds to me that you are actually spending at least $10 for oil and filter and at least 1.5 hours to get everything done.

    So if you make $20 an hour at your job, and pay yourself at the normal rate to change your oil, you are in the job $40.

    Now me, I consider paying someone else to do an oil change for me a real bargain.
  • leadfoot4leadfoot4 Posts: 593
    If you watch the sales, you can still get oil for $1.00 per quart. 5 quarts, $5.00. That leaves $2.50 for the problem!
    I pull into the garage when I come home from work, the "ramps" are already out there, just set them in place. Drive up, let the engine drain while I go in the house and check the answering machine, and scan through the mail. Go back out, fill the new filter with oil, put the drain plug back in, swap filters, pour in the fresh oil, and Voila! 15-20 minutes total work time at most.
    The local highway department has a waste oil burning furnace in their truck garage, so they collect old motor oil. I've acquired a couple of 5 gallon plastic jugs for waste oil storage, so every 4-5 months I take them dowm to the garage to dump. It takes maybe 20 minutes to do that.
    I keep my cars VERY clean, so actually I could change the oil in a suit and tie, with no cleanliness problems. Therefore, I don't have to spend time finding my oldest clothes to do the job. I'm just a "well oiled machine"!
    One other point....My wife and I are into cars, and between us, we have several. If I were to pay someone to maintain them at the level that I see fit, I'd go broke. Therefore, even if it took me twice as long to do an oil change, I'd still have to do it myself. Secondly, by doing it properly by myself, you won't see me whining on the "Bargain Oil Change Express stripped my oil pan" forum.
    (I'm not trying to be sarcastic, but I don't see an oil change as a big deal)
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,496
    ...well, here's what I do...

    I stop off at the auto parts store on my way home from work, or when I'm doing other errands. I buy oil by the case, and usually a couple filters at a time, and keep the stuff in the garage. On my Intrepid, I can actually change the oil without jacking the car up. Just slide the pan under there, undo the drain plug, and let it out. Then drop the filter.

    Then I just let it sit and drain for a good long time, and go find something else to do, like yard work or something. Come back to the car, put the drain plug back in and then the filter, put the oil in. Out of paranoia, double-check just to make sure it's not coming out the other end ;-)

    As for the old oil, well I have a few 5-gallon jugs and a big galvanized tub that's about 2'x2'. Once I've collected enough old oil from various oil changes, I just put the tub in the trunk, and then load all the junk into it and haul it to the recycilng drop-off about 1 1/2 miles down the road.

    If I don't let the car do an extended drain, I can do the whole thing in about 10-15 minutes. Or I could drive to the dealer, who's about 20 minutes away, wait for him to get to the car, have him get more bulk oil on the engine than in it, and get charged $26.95 for the privilege.

    Or I can take it somewhere else, and have them lie to me about what weight oil they put in the car, forget to tighten the drain plug (or better yet, strip it...thanks Leadfoot, hadn't thought about that one!), try to sell me a bunch of useless stuff, forget to lube the chassis (on older cars that still require that), and so on and so on.

    I guess I could take it to my regular mechanic, but he's not set up to do a quickie lube. In this case it would be one of those drop it off, get a ride to work, and pick it up after work type of things. If I were having other work done on the car anyway, that'd be a different story, but for the most part, I find it easier, quicker, cheaper, and more reliable to just do it myself. Besides, nobody's going to care about my car as much as I do, so nobody's going to have as much incentive to not screw it up!
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    There are self-sufficiency issues here. Self esteem is bolstered by acts which prove to oneself that you can, and do, provide much for yourself with less dependency on others. Yes, you could stay at work longer to "make the money" and never have to spin a wrench again. The monotony looms large, and the discomfort of questionable competency nags at you. I prescribe rebuilding a set of McPherson struts as therapy for the deeply troubled sojourner. Did it myself. I felt better for weeks... >:oÞ
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I absolutely guarantee you (lunch on me if I'm wrong) that if you change the oil and filter just once on my car you won't want to do it again.

    So we are looking at the same thing but from a different perspective.

    And what, pray tell, do you do with the old oil? This must also take time and expense. You have to have a drain container, and then haul it off somewhere.
  • leadfoot4leadfoot4 Posts: 593
    and ask the next obvious question. What kind of car is it??

    (think how many taxpayer dollars are saved by my town heating the highway garage with old motor oil!)
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    ...I save one gallon milk jugs, etc., as receptacles for dirty oil. When I am making a trip past AutoZone, I drop in and leave it. It is a service they offer to all their customers.
    Worn out old MB's are painful to own, I realize, and you may not want to change oil in one of those yourself! (:oÞ
  • catamcatam Posts: 331
    About a year ago, I had a door to door salesman at my house peddling oil changes of all things. I was in a good mood so I had a little fun with him.
    "What do you spend for oil changes?
    "Well lately 6 bucks, (at the time auto zone had their oil change special on 5 quarts and a filter for $5.95, and I had stocked up.)
    "huh, you have to pay more than that?!!"
    "why, so that you can work the numbers to justify my using your service. I guess even the most creative person can't make it sound good to pay your $15.95 with every 10th change free, when I pay less than half to begin with."
    "yeah, but think about the time and trouble you'll save. Isn't that worth a little extra money."
    "hmm, maybe you have a point, let me see, takes me about 30 minutes to do the job myself, and I know it is done right using the right oil. How long do you guys need to do it??"
    "We guarantee the job is done in 30 minutes or its free."
    "So takes me 15 minutes to get to your place, wait there for 30, and 15 minutes home, that makes an hour by my count, guess you're not going to save me any time either"
    "Well here's our card in case you change your mind"

    A little planning ahead makes an oil change a very quick job, even on my wife's Venture which is one of the more difficult vehicles that I have changed oil on.
    Like I said, I am usually at Walmart at least twice per month if not more, while I am there I just pick up the oil and filter if I don't already have it at home. Then anyday after work it is a quick easy job.
    Recycling is not any more difficult, let the oil collect in jugs, then next time I am on my way to auto zone I just take it with me.
  • haspelbeinhaspelbein Posts: 227 community actually has free curb pickup for used oil, but only in containers issued by the recycling company. It never hurts to check if such a service is available where you live.
  • kinleykinley Posts: 854
    Easy on the 66 Mustang 289

    A little more difficult on the SeaRay 302

    Not too bad on the 94 Towncar, turning wheel left helps.

    The worst = 95 T Bird 4.6 and your suggestions are welcome. Next time, I'm drilling a hole in the filter - draining the oil out of it before removing it.

    When my Dad let me help him change the oil in the 37 Chev in '39 he would mix kerosene with the old oil and then spray that on the dusty alley (kept the dust down) so the wash on the clothes line would stay cleaner. My Dad taught me to do what I could for myself and the satisfaction following the completion of the task was reward enough.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,496
    ...when the car's harder to do the oil on, I'd be even more leery of letting someone else do it. For instance, the oil filter on my '57 DeSoto is a royal pain to do...between lining up the cannister and the cover and all the little takes time and patience.

    Oh yeah, like I'm going to let the guy at Firestone who came in with a hangover try to rush through THAT job!! I guess if nothing else, they could just wipe off the canister and leave the old cartridge in, just like they did back in the old days ;-) Hey, maybe that's one of the reason older cars didn't last so long...people changing the oil but then not even bothering to touch those annoying filters!
  • rubicon52rubicon52 Posts: 191
    I've tried the dealer, quick lube places, and now I'm back to changing it myself. I find that changing it myself takes about the same time and is a little cheaper, but the real advantage is that it is done right with the best oil possible. When you take your car to the dealer and it comes back a quart low, how careful do you think they've been to clean the mounting face, lubricate the oil ring, properly tighten the filter, or let the oil drain completely?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I think rubicon has it right here. If I stopwatched you guys (wouldn't THAT be annoying?) for the complete job from picking up the oil to the disposal part, it really is an investment in time, but eh advantage is that you do it yourself and don't muck it up.

    So it sounds to me that it's just as much about "control" as it is about saving any money or time, maybe more so.

    My car is a Mercedes diesel which is not a pain to own at all. One of the best cars I ever owned (and I've owned a few). However, the oil filter is a cannister type (drop-in) that requires undoing four large bolts from a large cast receptacle sitting at the back of the engine. Then the filter pulls out in all its disgusting diesel glory, and you somehow lift it, dripping and stinking, over the left front fender.

    I have a trusted shop so I'm not worried about the control issue, but if I didn't have a good shop I certainly would not give it to an oil change facility. First of all, you need the exactly correct filter in there otherwise it will just by-pass, and secondly, one loose bolt on that high-up receptacle and all hell will break loose if you start the engine. What a mess that would be!

    Also on top of all that I need 7 quarts of oil, and it should be diesel rated.

    Can you imagine Jiffy Lube getting ALL that right?
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    One of the big advantages of changing your own oil if you have access to a hoist (or even high ramps) is being able to poke around in the engine bay and under the car to give everything a quick once over. I like to be proactive.
  • leadfoot4leadfoot4 Posts: 593
    Excellent point!
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    One of the best things that ever happened for the auto repair industry was the introduction of self serve gas bars. Back when the Earth's crust was still cooling and I was in high school, I worked part time in a service station. "Check under the hood?" was SOP. The station owner was obviously interested in increasing profits by selling product, but we found lots of frayed belts, soft or bulging coolant hoses, low oil or trans fluid, etc, etc. Now, how often do you see a hood up at a gas bar? People drive 'em until something falls off or blows up. Don't pay me now, I'd rather you pay me later.......
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    We;ve talked about this before...NOTHING is nastier than changing an old filter on a fifties mopar with a hemi engine!

    Those nasty little o rings and gaskets that have to be lined up just right. No room between the engine and frame for that long bolt to come out etc...

    Hell, just wipe it off!
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,496
    ...just out of curiosity, would it have been even worse to change the filter on a Chrysler than a DeSoto back then? My DeSoto's the only Hemi I have any experience with, but I think the Chrysler Hemi was even wider!

    Trust me, I've left a few oil puddles on the garage floor trying to change the filter on that beast!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I'm thinking of designing some kind of dialysis machine for my Mercedes diesel so that I don't ever have to change the filter again.
  • catamcatam Posts: 331
    You got to be in the hospital (shop) 3 times a week for 4 hours. Wonder if cars would suffer from lethargy and poor performance after dialysis too. :)

    Actually, we just need to force the auto design engineers to manually change the oil on every vehicle type they sell 3 times before putting a vehicle to market, then we would see every car on the road with a vertically mounted filter at the bottom of the engine next to the pan, with a nice big hole to access it easily.

    Yawn, stretch..... man I just had the strangest dream.....
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I've heard Miata oil filters are a pain.

    My Alfa Spider was such a struggle (it had the a/c unit) I finally ended up ordering specially made filters designed especially to clear the alternator and belly pan, at $10 a clip. Problem is they were very tiny--oil thimble-filters.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    On my Miata...can't tell you but after hearing that, I KNOW I'll have it done!

    Andre...I remember, as a kid working in a Mobil Station, a customer with a '52 0r '53 De Soto. The car was old then, and we hated to see it come in.

    It had a hemi engine, and that filter was a B**** to change! I remember fighting it for a half hour one hot summer day. Started the car and it leaked everywhere. The owner of the station decided I had had enough for one day and bought me a coke. He calmly re-did the job. Another half hour later, he turned the air BLUE with obsenities as his handiwork also leaked all over.

    And the old guy would bring that De Soto in every other month for an oil change!

    Think the canister ever got shined up.....?
  • leadfoot4leadfoot4 Posts: 593
    The widow across the street from my mother has a 1996 Ford Contour, with the 4 cyl. engine. Twice a year, I doll it up, and change the oil and filter for her. What a pain the filter is on that one!
    The filter is located on the backside of the engine. After driving up on the ramps and draining the crankcase, you have to put a jack under the crossmember and lift a little, so you can turn the wheels full lock left. Then you squeze your hand and filter wrench between the frame and tie rod. Loosen filter, and have it drain 50% of it's contents in the drain pan and the other 50% on the frame members.
    You then install new filter, spray frame with degreaser, refill engine, hose off degreaser, and drive car around the block a couple of times to blow off degreaser. The next day, you explain to owner that the car isn't "leaking", it's just the excess degreaser that seeped into all the little crevices, and is finally coming out. What a picnic!
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    Ever change a PCV valve on one of those? Step #1, raise vehicle on hoist. Step #2, remove catalytic converter. Yep, the cat's at the exhaust manifold for a faster cat warmup, and the PCV's right behind it. It can be changed without converter removal, but it takes longer and you'll learn some new words along the way.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    That is astounding. If I didn't trust your word, I'd say you were joking! Remove the catalytic converter to change the PCV?
    I was going to gripe about a little inconvenience, but never mind... (:oÞ
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    My Mitchell Labor Guide lists Contour 4 cyl. PCV valve replacement at 2.2 hours. Getting the valve out was one thing. Getting that sucker back in there was a whole 'nuther thing. By the time it was finally re-installed, it would have been faster to R&R the catalytic converter. I coulda strangled the brain-dead fool who designed that setup.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,496
    ...are you supposed to replace the PCV valve on the Contour, anyway? I hope you dont have to replace them every 12-15,000 miles like you did back in the day!! That'd get expensive enough that I'm sure a lot of people would just pass on it. I do my Intrepid's PCV valve about every 15,000 miles, but it just screws out and takes maybe 2 minutes to do.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    According to my manual on my '97 Geo Prizm, you can remove the PCV valve and inspect its condition including shaking it after some solvent cleaning. If you hear the ball valve rattling inside, it is okay. Reinstall it and that's it. I'd say on a Contour the "nonFool" procedure is to replace it anytime you have the access!
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