OIL LEVEL CHECK
Since the lubricating oil in the engine is the life blood of your motor, it's a good practice to keep a close watch on engine oil level. Check it at least everytime you refuel. The best time to check the engine oil level is before operating the engine or after it has been sitting for at least a few minutes in order to get an accurate reading. This allows the oil to drain back into the crankcase. To check the engine oil level, make sure that the car is resting on a level surface, remove the oil dipstick, wipe it clean and reinsert the stick firmly for an accurate reading. The oil dipstick has two marks to indicate high and low oil level. If the oil level is at or below the "add" mark on the dipstick, oil should be added as necessary to bring it up to the "full" line. The oil should be maintained in the safety margin, neither going above the "full" mark or below the "add" mark. Be sure that the dipstick is in the tube tight after checking the oil to prevent dirt from entering the oil pan.
OIL & FILTER CHANGE
In order to maintain adequate engine protection and performance, the oil should be changed at least every 6 months or 7500 miles (5000 miles for 1976 models). The manufacturer recommends that the oil filter be changed at the first oil change and every other one after that. It may be a better idea to change the filter every time you drain the oil. The filter holds one quart of dirty oil and the expense of a new filter is more than outweighed by increased engine protection.
The recommended oil change interval is only for cars driven normally. If your automobile is being used under extremely dusty conditions, change the oil and filter sooner. The same thing goes for cars which are constantly driven in stop and go city traffic; extended idling can cause an acid and sludge buildup problem. Always drain the oil after the engine has been run long enough to bring it to normal operating temperature. Hot oil will flow more easily and more contaminants will be removed with the oil than if it were drained cold. A large capacity drain pan (5 or 6 quarts), oil filter, strap wrench, oil can spout, and a wrench to fit the oil pan drain plug are the only necessary tools. These are readily available at any automotive parts store or most large discount stores. These tools will more than pay for themselves after a few do-it-yourself oil changes. One other necessity is containers for the used oil. You will find that plastic bleach containers make excellent storage bottles.
To change your oil and filter:
- Run the engine until it reaches normal operating temperature. Jack up the front of the car and support it on jackstands or use drive-on ramps.
- Slide a drain pan under the oil pan drain plug. Be sure that it holds at least 5 quarts.
- Loosen the drain plug with a wrench and then turn it out by hand. If you maintain a slight pressure on it with your hand, you can prevent hot oil from squirting onto your fingers.
- Remove the plug and allow the oil to drain into the pan.
- When all oil has drained from the engine, clean the plug and install it in the pan. Don't overtighten it.
- Move the drain pan under the oil filter. The filter is located on the lower right side of six cylinder engines, almost in the center. The V8 oil filter is located at the right rear of the engine.
- Install the oil filter strap wrench on the filter and turn it slowly off, allowing the oil to drain into the pan. This can be done from the top on six cylinder engines.
- Completely remove and discard the old oil filter. Use a clean rag to wipe off the filter mounting base on the engine.
- Wipe a small amount of fresh oil onto the rubber gasket of the replacement filter.
- Spin the filter into place by hand. When the gasket is flush with the mounting on the engine, give it another 1 / 2 to 3 / 4 of a turn. If you overtighten the filter, it will probably leak and will surely be difficult to remove for the next oil change.
If you cannot remove an old filter that someone has overtightened, drive a punch or screwdriver through the filter and use it to turn the filter off.
- Clean up the area around the filter. Oil invariably drips onto the V8 exhaust pipe and the side of the six cylinder engine.
- Remove the oil filler cap and add five quarts of fresh oil (only four if you didn't change the filter).
- Check the oil level with the dipstick, it should be at "full." Replace the oil filler cap.
- Start the engine. The oil pressure warning light should go out in a few seconds. If it doesn't, stop the engine and check for the problem. Perhaps you forgot to replace the drain plug and lost your oil.
- With the engine running and the oil light out, check for leaks at the filter and drain plug.
- Stop the engine, wait a few minutes, and then check the oil level again.