GM Cavalier/Sunbird/Skyhawk/Firenza 1982-1994

Engine

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OIL LEVEL CHECK



See Figures 1, 2 and 3

On some of the vehicles covered by this information, the oil fill cap contains the oil level indicator (dipstick).

Every time you stop for fuel, check the engine oil making sure the engine has fully warmed and the vehicle is parked on a level surface. Because it takes some time for the oil to drain back to the oil pan, you should wait a few minutes before checking your oil. If you are doing this at a fuel stop, first fill the fuel tank, then open the hood and check the oil, but don't get so carried away as to forget to pay for the fuel. Most station attendants won't believe that you forgot.



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Fig. Fig. 1: Locate the dipstick, remove it from the guide tube, then ...



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Fig. Fig. 2: ... wipe the dipstick clean and reinsert in the guide tube

  1. Make sure the car is parked on level ground.
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  3. When checking the oil level, it is best for the engine to be at normal operating temperature, although checking the oil immediately after stopping will lead to a false reading. Wait a few minutes after turning off the engine to allow the oil to drain back into the crankcase.
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Fig. Fig. 3: On some vehicles, such as this 2.2L (VIN 4) engine, the oil fill cap contains the oil dipstick

  1. Open the hood and locate the dipstick which will be in a guide tube mounted in the upper engine block. Pull the dipstick from its tube, wipe it clean (using a clean, lint free rag) and then reinsert it.
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  3. Pull the dipstick out again and, holding it horizontally, read the oil level. The oil should be between the FULL and ADD marks on the dipstick. The the oil is below the ADD mark, add oil of the proper viscosity through the capped opening in the top of the cylinder head cover or filler tube, as applicable. see the oil and fuel recommendations listed earlier in this section for the proper viscosity and rating of oil to use.
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  5. Insert the dipstick and check the oil level again after adding any oil. Approximately one quart of oil will raise the level from the ADD mark to the FULL mark. Be sure not to overfill the crankcase and waste the oil. Excess oil will generally be consumed at an accelerated rate.
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WARNING
DO NOT overfill the crankcase. It may result in oil-fouled spark plugs, oil leaks cause by oil seal failure or engine damage due to oil foaming.

OIL & FILTER CHANGE



See Figures 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8


CAUTION
The EPA warns that prolonged contact with used engine oil may cause a number of skin disorders, including cancer! You should make every effort to minimize your exposure to used engine oil. Protective gloves should be worn when changing the oil. Wash your hands and any other exposed skin areas as soon as possible after exposure to used engine oil. Soap and water, or waterless hand cleaner should be used.

If you purchased your J-car new, the engine oil and filter should be changed at the first 7,500 miles or 12 months (whichever comes first), and then at least every 7,500 miles or 12 months thereafter it the car is operated on a daily or semi-daily basis and most trips are for several miles (allowing the engine to properly warm up). If the car is driven under severe conditions, such as in extremely dusty weather, or when the car is used for trailer towing, prolonged high speed driving, or repeated short trips in freezing weather, it is suggested that the oil and filter be changed every 3,000 miles/4,800 km or 3 months.

Under certain circumstances, General Motors recommends changing both the oil and filter during the first oil change and then only replacing the filter at every other oil change thereafter. For the small price of an oil filter, it's cheap insurance to replace the filter at every oil change. One of the larger filter manufacturers points out in its advertisements that not changing the filter leaves as much as one quart of dirty oil in the engine. This claim is true and should be kept in mind when changing your oil.

Oil should always be changed after the engine has been running long enough to bring it up to normal operating temperature. Hot oil will flow easier and more contaminants will be removed along with the oil than if it were drained cold. The oil drain plug is located on the bottom of the oil pan (bottom of the engine).

You should have available a container that will hold a minimum of 6 quarts of liquid (to prevent spilling the oil even after it is drained), a wrench to fit the drain plug, a spout for pouring in new oil and a rag or two, which you will always need. If the filter is being replaced, you will also need a band wrench or a filter wrench that fits the end of the filter.

  1. Drive the car until the engine is at normal operating temperature. A run to the parts store for oil and a filter should accomplish this. If the engine is not hot when the oil is changed, most of the acids and contaminants will remain inside the engine.
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Fig. Fig. 4: Using a wrench, loosen the oil panel drain plug, then ...



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Fig. Fig. 5: ... quickly withdraw the plug and allow it to drain into a pan



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Fig. Fig. 6: Use a strap-type wrench to loosen the oil filter

  1. Shut the engine OFF , make sure the parking brake is firmly set and the drive wheels are blocked.
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  3. Clearance may be sufficient to access the drain plug without raising the vehicle. If the car must be lifted, be sure to support it safely with jackstands and be sure to position the drain plug at a low point under the vehicle.
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  5. Slide a drain pan of at least 6 quarts capacity under the oil pan. Wipe the drain plug and surrounding area clean using an old rag.
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Six quart plastic drain pan/containers are available, which can be capped, and taken later to a recycling station to dispose of the dirty oil. DO NOT pour the oil on or into the ground.

  1. Using a ratchet, short extension and socket or a box-wrench, loosen the drain plug from the engine oil pan. The drain plug is the bolt inserted at an angle into the lowest point of the oil pan. Turn the plug out by hand, using a rag to shield your fingers. By keeping an inward pressure on the plug as you unscrew it, oil won't escape past the threads and you can remove it without being burned by hot oil.
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Fig. Fig. 7: The oil filler cap is usually located on the camshaft carrier or valve cover - 1988 2.0L Sunbird shown



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Fig. Fig. 8: Fill the crankcase with the proper amount of engine oil, then check the oil level

  1. Quickly withdraw the plug and move your hands out of the way, but be careful not to drop the plug into the drain pan, as fishing it out can be an unpleasant mess. Allow the oil to drain completely in the pan, then wipe off the drain plug, removing any traces of metal particles. Pay particular attention to the threads.
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  3. Install and carefully tighten the drain plug. Be careful not to overtighten the drain plug, otherwise you'll be buying a new pan or a trick replacement plug for stripped threads.
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Although some manufacturers have at times recommended changing the oil filter every other oil change, we recommend the filter be changed every time you change your oil. The added benefit of clean oil is quickly lost if the oil filter is clogged and the added protection to the heart of your engine far outweighs the few dollars saved by using an old filter.

  1. On some vehicles, the oil filter is at the back of the engine. It is impossible to reach from above, and almost as inaccessible from below, because of the location of the fender skirt. It may be easiest to remove the right front wheel and reach through the fender opening to get at the four cylinder oil filter. Use an oil filter strap wrench, or a wrench that fits like a cap over the oil filter, along with a rachet wrench, to loosen the oil filter; these are available at auto parts stores. Cover your hand with a rag and spin the filter off by hand. Keep in mind that it's holding about one quart of dirty, hot oil, so be careful.
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  3. Clean off the oil filter mounting surface with a clean rag. Be sure that the rag doesn't leave any lint which could clog an oil passage.
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  5. Apply a thin film of clean engine oil to the filter gasket. Screw the filter on by hand until the gasket makes contact. Then tighten it by hand an additional 1 / 2 - 3 / 4 turn. Do not overtighten. No more, or you'll squash the gasket and the it may leak.
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  7. Remove the oil filler cap, after wiping the area clean, then refill the engine with the correct amount of fresh oil Please refer to the Capacities chart in this section. If you don't have an oil can spout, you will need a funnel. Be certain you do not overfill the engine, which can cause serious damage. Replace the cap.
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  9. Check the oil level on the dipstick. It is normal for the level to be a bit above the full mark. Start the engine and allow it to idle for a few minutes.
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WARNING
Do not run the engine above idle speed until it has built up oil pressure, indicated when the oil light goes out.

  1. Check around the filter and drain plug for any leaks.
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  3. Shut off the engine, allow the oil to drain for a minute, and check the oil level.
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After completing this job, you will have several quarts of filthy oil to dispose of. The best thing to do with it is to pour it into plastic jugs, such as milk or old antifreeze containers. Then, locate a service station or automotive parts store where you can pour it into their used oil tank for recycling.


CAUTION
Improperly disposing of used motor oil not only pollutes the environment, it violates Federal law. Dispose of waste oil properly.

 
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