man fixing vehicle engine

How to change your engine oil like a professional

Oil changes are critical when it comes to your vehicle’s well being and reliability. However there are many people that do not stay on top of this, many find out how important oil changes are the hard way.

Getting your vehicle’s oil changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles should be a priority.

In the grand scheme of things regular oil changes are relatively cheap and provide piece of mind.

The benefits of staying consistent with maintaining your vehicle far outweigh being hit with a major mechanical issue that could cost you thousands.

What’s wrong with “just” an oil change?

The problem is a quick oil change is usually just drain the oil, then change the filter.

That’s about it, maybe a quick inspection and done.

However….

A simple oil change is not enough. Read on to learn the way your mechanic should be changing yours.

Before we jump in, when should you be getting your vehicle’s oil changed?

For most vehicles oil changes should be done every 5,000 miles if using synthetic oil. Every 3,000 if using conventional oil.

Always change the filter with a high quality replacement.

How do professional mechanics change engine oil?

As shop owners and professional technicians we need to create value for our customer.

Getting customers isn’t all that tough…… keeping customers who won’t let another person other than you work on their car however….that takes some work.

When you perform oil changes for a customer on a regular basis you can really develop a great relationship with that person.

You become trusted to tell them about issues, before they become major things that can ruin their day.

You provide them value and reassurance.

How do we professionals earn this trust?

Maybe it’s when we caught that engine belt idler pulley that was about to fall off and leave them stranded before it actually did.

Or the tire with a huge bubble in the sidewall that would have blown out on their son or daughter on the way to school.

Maybe it’s the time you performed service on their vehicle and told them the brakes still have 20k left to go……..

After the guy down the street said they needed to be done today.

All of this builds trust between you and the customer.

Take a second to ask how they are, make them know that the person taking there money appreciates them as a valued customer.

Do this genuinely, when the time comes to call them to sell a major job they will give you authorization, because they respect your diagnosis and trust you.

professional oil change

The typical customer is thinking…..

The car needs a oil change.” They are not wondering if their sway bar links are worn , or if they have a leak, bad water pump, etc.

It’s our job as Automotive Technicians to make sure these types of things are safe.

How a professional mechanic changes engine oil.

First and foremost you need to be using high quality oil and filters, there is no reason to try and save a few bucks here. Cheap oil and filters are just that…..cheap.

With direct injection these vehicles are running much hotter and internal tolerances are much tighter than ever before.

It’s hard on the oil.

Crankcase vapor can be a real issue, especially with cheap engine oil.

Massive carbon build up on the back of the intake valves is mainly an issue that occurs when hot crankcase oil vapor slowly condenses and builds up into hard carbon deposits over time.

Direct injected engines no longer have the back of the intake valve cleaned by the spray of a traditional injector.

Many people go well over the service interval with cheap oil and bad filters. This is where you start to see cartridge filters sucked in when removed with sludge and pieces of the filter media missing.

We have proper parts and oil, lets get started.

Many oil filters these days have different tools needed to properly remove the housing.

One that I highly recommend is the Lisle 5 piece socket set.

The first thing is to make sure the engine is warmed up. This will let oil flow out quickly, sludge has a better chance of getting out of the engine.

Next we perform a full a light check, have a guy come over and check all exterior lights, replace any burned out bulbs.

Set the vehicle on the lift. Remove the oil cap, and dipstick. If it has a cartridge style oil filter, crack the filter cup loose, this allows for venting so the oil runs freely.

Next we lift up the vehicle and access the drain plug.

Bring over a drain pan and remove the oil plug.

Once the oil is draining, check all the tire pressures. If you are doing a tire rotation now is the time to pull off the wheels so we can get a good look at the brakes.

Check brake pad wear at all four wheels, inner and outer pads !

You will lose your customer’s trust very fast if you miss one big thing…..especially brakes!

Metal to metal brakes a week after because you missed the left rear inner pad that was much more worn.

I have done this in my younger days and it is very hard to gain back that customers trust. If you even get the chance.

Get a good mirror so you can inspect brakes well with the wheels on.

If you are a professional working on a consistent customer vehicle, check your recommendations from the last service. See if anything has gotten to the point of needing to be done now.

Ok let’s move on. You want to really look the vehicle over and jot down anything that needs attention.

Remember, safety is the absolute most important value you can offer your customer period.

My old shop teacher used to say “if a surgeon messes up he kills the person on the table, but if you mess up bad enough you can hurt or kill a lot more”

Every tech needs to take what they are doing seriously. Mistakes will always happen, from the boss to the guy sweeping, but make no mistake Neglect is something not to be tolerated period.

Some things to put eyes on

  • Brakes, pads, rotors, flex hoses etc.
  • Suspension components for wear such as torn bushings etc.
  • Tire tread , sidewall bubbles, wear pattern, cracked wheels etc.
  • Driveline , cv boots , axles, u joints etc.
  • Leaks , coolant, oil, etc
  • Engine mounts, belts, hoses etc.
  • Check for rot.
  • Also look for mouse activity, we see a lot where we are. Customers appreciate the heads up so they know to set traps in their garages.
  • Look it over good for any other signs of needed work.

Good techs never sell unneeded work…..ever

Remember we are looking for work to sell. Make damn sure that any work you sell is something your customer truly needs.

We are not out to rip people off.

If that’s your deal stop reading now

Use the minor service platform to your advantage. It is a win for you and your customers. Owners out there make sure you train new and old techs your variation of this list.

You should take time to develop a general outline followed by your techs.

Every tech in our shop follows the same general procedure. Of course they all have a different spin, but they know what is expected in the shop.

A good tech should be able to complete a minor service in no more than a half hour. This is the standard labor charge for a minor service.

If you are a diy take your time here and follow the general outline.

Once we are finished looking the vehicle over.

Install the drain plug with a new seal and tighten.

Reinstall any panels or covers as well.

We are set underneath , we have everything buttoned up, and cleaned up. Don’t be the shop that leaves all your fingerprints on the grease covered oil filter!

It is very important that you and all your techs take real pride in what they are doing. Small stuff adds up.

Moving on we lower the car and fill the crankcase. Clean the cap, give a quick wipe if the dust is a foot high on the engine covers.

Remember, some customers do open their hoods from time to time. Let them notice these small things, it can never hurt you.

Now let’s check all fluids and top off where needed. Follow the same style as underneath, check belts, hoses, valve covers, oil stands, etc. Start the engine, look and listen , are there idlers wobbling or exhaust leaks, maybe rough running?

Think like a salesman that is finding the next product to sell.

Next we blow out the engine compartment good with a blow gun to remove leaves and debris from the cowl drains.

Make sure the windows are closed. Unless you wanna be doing a interior detail as well.

Almost done, here is another tip for full time mechanics. If you find certain items that need attention, Lets say brake fluid darker than the swamps of Florida.

Let the writers know at some point while the car is up in the air.

Let them know so they can try to make the sale to the customer while you still have the car in the shop and ready to go.

It doesn’t always work out but anything to increase efficiency is alright with me.

Finishing up and pulling the car out, then telling the writer can do two things. They don’t sell it and you are done.

Or you will be pulling it back in and costing yourself time.

Now reset any maintenance reminders and make your oil sticker. If you are a full time mechanic still writing with marker on the oil stickers like your son’s preschool art project stop now.

You need to step up to a oil sticker printer.

Our kids school projects are the best thing ever but they don’t belong on your customer’s windshields.

That’s all folks, pull it around and make sure when you go into the office, if the customer is waiting you smile and don’t give the impression that Oscar the grouch just changed their oil.

I hope this helps generate some thoughts for not only for the DIY out there but for techs as well.

Thanks for reading.

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