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Dave and I are always looking for ways to teach the girls pride in ownership. This includes both of the girls helping with laundry, vacuuming and dusting with me, and making sure to care for their belongings gently and helping with repairs of any toys- from loose screws to taping ripped book pages and sewing the ears back onto stuffed animals. While skills such as sewing are very important, I truly want the girls to appreciate and understand how things work- especially cars. From changing my oil to changing a tire, my Dad taught me a lot about simple maintenance of a vehicle for my own safety, and I hope to pass that onto the girls.
Since making the move, Dave’s commute is about 40 miles less a day! It’s quite a change for the good, for sure, but it’s still a hike, requiring maintenance on his 2006 Subaru Forester, more often than most. Now that we have the driveway space, doing oil changes ourselves isn’t out of the realm of possibilities, so… no time like the present to get started!
Be sure you have all the tools you will need for your oil change, including a box-wrench, rags, funnel, oil filter wrench (yes, every time you change your oil, you need to change the oil filter, too), oil drain pan and some plastic sheeting to protect your drive way, gloves and goggles are also recommended to protect your hands and face from any fluids from your vehicle.
Most Subarus have the oil type printed on the oil cap – it will likely be 5W-20, 5W-30, 5W-40, 10W-30 or 10W-40. If it isn’t printed on the oil cap, check your owners manual for the exact type before adding new oil. The owner’s manual gives all the information necessary to put the right viscosity oil, such as 10W-30, 5W-30, etc., into your car. Most will have a temperature chart showing which conditions are best for different viscosities. Using the oil that meets the Subaru’s standards, is very important for the care and warranty of your vehicle. Most automakers require the oil used to have an American Petroleum Institute certification. This is signified by the API-certified’s “starburst” logo printed on the oil container, signifying the oil meets the most up-to-date oil-performance standards.
Our 2006 Subaru Forester uses Pennzoil Platinum full synthetic SAE 5W-30. Most Subarus after 2011 require the use of full synthetic oils, but I choose to use them on both of our Subarus (2006 Forester and 2010 Outback) because synthetic oils give better low and high temperature viscosity performance, resist oxidation, thermal breakdown and oil sludge problems, extend drain intervals with the environmental benefit of less oil waste, improve fuel economy in certain engine configurations, give better lubrication on cold starts and is proven to extend the life of your engine! Using the books Walmart has in the auto department, I chose a filter that matched for the Subaru AND for high-mileage vehicles.
For this tutorial, I enlisted the help of a professional mechanic, to make sure we got this right! My brother-in-law is amazing- thanks, Steve!!
*Mechanic’s Tip* Before you begin, be sure you can get the oil fill plug off. There’s nothing like draining the oil from your car and then not being able to refill it!
To start, make sure the oil in your car is warm. Driving to the store to get your tools and back home is sufficient (or run the car for a few minutes). If the car is hot, let the oil cool for about 30 minutes. Drive your car onto the plastic sheeting to protect your driveway and prepare to lift it. Most likely, your Subaru Forester is too low to get under without the car being lifted. To do this, jack the vehicle up on ramps or hold with jack stands- both available at any local store with car parts. I chose to go to the Walmart near my house to find them. Always secure the rear wheels with chocks, as well. An unsecured, rolling vehicle is incredibly dangerous.
After your car is secured, get under there and loosen the drain plug with a properly sized box-end wrench. Place your drain pan a bit to the side while loosening. Subarus are notorious for the oil coming out however it wants, and then changing direction- this is where the sheeting will serve you well! The last bit of oil and removing the filter are also likely to cause spilling away from the oil pan, so best to be protected.
*Mechanic Tip* If you spill on the driveway, use sand or kitty litter to soak it up, then sweep up the mess.
Make sure your plug is in good shape, and replace the o-ring if needed. It may have fallen off into the oil pan, or still be on the car- check the details! Once all the oil is drained, replace the plug- tight, but don’t strip it, and move onto the filter. PUT GLOVES ON NOW, if you’re not already wearing them! You may need an oil filter removal wrench for this.. and you will definitely need a lot of rags! Once the filter is removed, hold it over the pan to drain it, then place away from you on the plastic. Wipe yourself up with some rags- trust me, you’ll need to!
Use rags to clean as much oil away as you can, paying special attention to the filter sealing surface. Remove the old filter’s O-ring if it stuck itself to the surface because a double stack of O-rings won’t seal, meaning your new oil won’t to pump out and this will ruin your engine. Staying with the theme of messy oil filters, smear some of new oil on the new filter’s O-ring. Remove your gloves so you can get a good grip, and place the new filter on. Spin it slowly until the O-ring is sealed, then tighten about three-quarters of a turn to a full turn beyond the point where the O-ring first contacts the sealing surface. Make sure your plug and filter on are tight, and then, it’s time to refill!
I chose Pennzoil Platinum full synthetic in the 1.5 gallon container because it’s just about the right amount to fill up our 2006 Subaru Forester. Consult your owner’s manual to check the amount of oil your car will need. You want to use about 1 quart less than the manual says. Replace your oil cap and clear the space around the car and then turn it on and let it run for a few minutes while you check under the car and make sure there are no leaks. If you’re sure you’re all set, lower your car back to the ground. Check your dipstick and add the rest of the oil. And… ta da! You just changed your own oil!
The last step is to properly dispose of your oil by draining your oil pan (by using the funnel) into your now empty oil containers. Many Walmart stores, as well as car parts stores and local waste centers will take your oil for recycling. As easy as that! Always use standard safety procedures when changing your oil. You should always refer to your own car’s manual before changing your oil, to make sure you are on the correct path to your DIY oil change! For a video tutorial, check this out:
Now that you know, who will you be teaching? What skills do you teach your kids to help them respect what they have?