11:12:14 Oil Changes

I've consistently done two things for my cars to keep them going a long time. One, I always garage them. I once paid rent separately for a garage where they were in short supply, so I don't take my garage--as car shelter--for granted. Most of my neighbors, however, think garages are just a place to store stuff. They'd as soon not bother with opening and closing a garage door to use their car.

Two, I change oil religiously, including oil filters and drain plug gaskets.

[Oil Change]

For years I followed the 3,000 miles or 3 month rule of thumb on oil changes. But in the last ten years or so, as I've learned more about advances in motor oils and car engine technology, I've upped the change interval to 10,000 miles, which makes it more a yearly chore. I still, however, change the oil filter three times during that 10,000 miles as low-cost insurance to keep my oil performing its best. (But I once talked to a guy who never changes his oil, just changes his oil filters, but that's a whole different argument to pursue.)

One reason I justify changing oil at the new extended duration is the availability of fully synthetic motor oil, which by almost any measure holds up better than ordinary mineral-based motor oil. As one Portland cabbie once told me, he only uses synthetic oil in his car because in winter, when temperatures dip below freezing, starting a cold engine without clingy synthetic oil on your pistons and rings, means a dry start and asking for trouble down the road..

I'm convinced some people never bother with oil changes. For one thing, not many people would even know how to go about doing it. So for those that can't change their own oil, the choices seem to be the dealer or an independent mechanic (both appointments and not cheap) or the $20 oil-change franchises that have popped up everywhere. Many of the latter seem too ready to check other things on your car (wipers, headlights, engine belts), hoping to find on your dime a bigger bill.

I'd much rather do it myself.

I took up car maintenance mostly as a DIY defense against BMW dealers who seemed to have had a knack for ransoming my car. So oil changes (and changing spark plugs, ignition points, adjusting valves and so on) became a rewarding avocation.

While I'm sure many can cite rituals for car maintenance that they know guarantee auto longevity, I'd just point to some mileage figures: 264,000 miles on a BMW 1600, 218,000 miles on a Mazda Miata, and 112,000 miles, and counting, on a Toyota ECHO HB. I like my automotive engines long-lived.


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The Cat at Light's End

Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection, The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:

.mobi (Kindle)
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)

Also, a flash fiction, "Ylena Thinks Nyet," is at Cigale Literary Magazine.



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