So, a few weeks ago I decided to attempt something that I had never done completely 100% solo. Able-Bodied Boyfriend was away and virtually incommunicado, but it had come time to do the deed and we had a break from the freezing temperatures.
I changed my car's oil, with no help (save the inter-webs).
Now, this is not entirely new to me. Around the time I was acquiring a drivers license, Able-Bodied Father insisted on teaching me many things; among them, how to drive a stick shift, how to change a tire, and how to change my oil. But oil changes are not always easy on every car, so I dutifully went to the local lube shop every... ummm... whenever I remembered...
My newest car, as we have discovered, is super easy to deal with. The oil pan plug and the oil filter are very accessible, so it's just a matter of getting them off and back on again. So for the last two years, all but one oil change have been done in the driveway of our house.
And for all but the latest oil change, I needed help; the oil plug was just too tight for me. Normally, I would give up and ask Able-Bodied Boyfriend (who is most likely hovering nearby anyway) after just a few tugs.
But this time I figured that if I couldn't get past that first step, I wouldn't really be in a pinch. I would just be sad that I couldn't do it myself.
So I dove under my car on a warm, rainy morning. Discovered a new direction from which I could easily leverage the wrench to get the plug off, and I was just fine! I used the inter-webs a couple of times when I hit minor insecure moments of "oh shit, do I really know what I'm doing?!?" but came through unscathed and with a happy car.
Why would I do this when I could have someone else do it?
First, it's cheaper! I spent $4 for a filter and by shopping the sales, I can generally get 5qts of synthetic oil for $25 or less. After having my used synthetic oil tested by Blackstone Labs, I was told I can use it for 13,000 miles between changes. I can spend less than an hour getting happy-dirty-sweaty twice a year, rather than get overcharged for synthetic oil, or sit in the smelly waiting rooms four or more times a year.
Second reason I do it? I CAN. Do you know how many times I've purchased my oil and filter from the auto parts store down the street and have gotten odd looks and offhand comments? Yeah, this Bud's for you. I can also change a flat, replace my air filter, clean my battery, check and replace all my other fluids, and drive and/or roll-start a manual transmission. Go me.
Ok, that sounds like I'm doing it for some feminist reason. It's not that. It's knowing that I have some basic understanding of this thing I bought, I'm still paying for, I'm using, that's pretty much worth more than everything else I own. Both in terms of monetary value and intrinsic value (getting to/from work, my first new car, etc). It's mine, so I really feel much better having some understanding of it's functions and maintenance.
A colleague mentioned a recent survey just prior to this oil change, and I managed to find some trace of it at this link. No supporting/source information included, but just thinking of it made me smile as I lay on a piece of cardboard with grease on my hands... "Women say having THIS makes them feel independent..." Tools. Rock on.
Have you ever changed your oil? Changed a tire? Any other car repairs? If you haven't, what is keeping you from doing so?
Here's my challenge to you. When I do this again in late spring or early summer, you should join me. Bring your car over and we can take a look at it to see how feasible it would be for you to change your own oil. Some cars are indeed a pain in the ass, some are better. You can watch/help as I do mine. And hell, maybe we'll run to the shop, grab some oil and a filter, and do yours too... who's in?!?!