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As a travel blogger and frequent road tripper, I’ve learned it’s important to take simple steps to ensure that your trip goes off without a hitch. Basic vehicle maintenance, including frequent oil changes for those of us that drive a lot, can extend the life of your engine. And you know what that means, don’t you? More road trips, of course!
Before I set out on a road trip, there are a few basic steps I take to make sure my vehicle is road trip ready. Here they are:
- Check the tires to make sure you don’t see signs of uneven wear and make sure the tires have sufficient tread. You can check this easily with a penny. Insert a penny into the tire’s groove with Lincoln’s head upside down, facing you. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace your tires.
- While checking your tires, you also want to check the tire pressure with a tire pressure gauge. Make sure you’ve not driven your car for at least three hours and check the pressure. You’ll find what the proper pressure is for your vehicle in the owner’s manual. Proper tire pressure improves the fuel function and safety.
- Check your brake fluid, power steering fluid, windshield washer fluid, motor oil, and coolant and top them off as needed.
- Check your belts and look for cracks or tears. You may want to schedule a consult with a mechanic.
- Replace your windshield wipers if necessary.
- Check your motor oil. If it’s dark, or it’s been awhile since your last oil change, you should consider changing it along with the air filter.
My personal vehicle nearly 180,000 miles! More often than not, if I’m traveling a long distance, I opt to rent a vehicle these days. But that doesn’t mean that I neglect my minivan. My vehicle is over ten years old, so my husband changes the oil every 3,000 miles using full synthetic motor oil. We rarely pay a serviceman to change our oil since we can save money changing it ourselves and it only takes a few minutes. And when I say “changing oil ourselves,” I mean my husband. I really have no interest in changing the oil, but now I do know how to do it, just in case I ever get the urge to perform routine maintenance on my vehicle. I’ll show you how easy it is.
First, I went to my local Walmart with my husband to buy an oil filter and oil.
We purchased Pennzoil Platinum full synthetic motor oil. This high-quality oil has been specially designed to give your engine complete protection, including:
- Cleaner pistons
- Better Fuel Economy
- Horsepower Protection
- Unsurpassed Wear Protection to protect engines from loss of power
- Excellent Performance in Extreme Temperatures
- Backed by a 10 year/300,000 mile Lubrication Limited Warranty.
When changing your own oil, make sure you adhere to standard safety procedures. And you should always refer to your car’s manual before changing your oil. Your owners manual will tell you how often you need to change your oil as well as what weight and grade your vehicle requires. For example, my minivan uses 5W 30 motor oil.
Now, how to do your own oil change.
First things first. You can jack your car up, or drive it up on a ramp like we do. Place bricks or wedges behind the tires to make sure your vehicle doesn’t roll.
Make sure your car’s engine isn’t hot- you don’t want to burn yourself.
Place a container under the oil pan to hold the used oil.
Using a socket wrench, or vice grips, loosen the bolt on the oil pan.
Drain the oil into some type of container.
When the oil has drained, replace the oil plug.
Remove the oil filter. Mine is at the front of the engine and is hard to see. You may be able to remove it by twisting it with your hand, or you may need a specially designed, adjustable tool just for removing oil filters.
Replace the filter.
Now you’re done under the car. Stand up and open the hood if you haven’t already. Find the oil cap and remove it. It’s clearly marked.
Remove the cap and begin to pour the oil into the hole. Using a funnel makes this process easier. If the oil drips onto your engine, it will smell as your engine heats up until it burns off.
Pour until you’ve added the amount specified by your owners manual. You can use the oil stick to double check that you’ve added enough, but be careful not to overfill.
That’s it. Now you can clean up and put your tools away. It’s important that you don’t pour the oil out on the ground- you can get fined for that. Simply pour the oil into the empty oil container (if you used it all) and recycle it at an oil change facility that accepts oil containers or at a household waste recycling facility.
By the looks of that oil, my minivan was way overdue for an oil change!
That was a quick run down on how to change your oil. If you want a more in depth, step-by-step version, watch this 20-minute video on how to change your own oil.
Want to learn more about Pennzoil Platinum Full Synthetic Oil and how easy you can get your vehicle road trip ready with a DIY oil change? Visit this page for more tips and tricks for changing your oil. How do you get your vehicle ready for road trips?
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