Perils of the Quick Lube

Post by blogger | July 6, 2010      

I usually make about $60/hour in savings by doing my own oil changes as opposed to a lube shop. But not with the time it took me yesterday to do a change on our Silverado Duramax. We’d had a change done at a quick lube in Anchorage, and employee X over-tightened the filter. Getting the filter off required nearly destroying it with my oil filter grabbers, and felt like a good session on the free weights. Whew.

The stubborn filter finally gave in to the pliers.

The stubborn filter finally gave in to the pliers, but only after a lengthy ordeal that resembled a cage fight.

For you motor heads out there, I’m using Mobile One Turbo Diesel synthetic oil, changing at 5,000 miles for light service (highway miles) or 4,000 for heavy service (winter trailhead driving). The Duramax takes 11 quarts of go slime, so an oil change isn’t trivial in terms of expense. At some point I’ll probably switch to the Amsoil filter and oil system that I’m confident can be run for many more miles between changes, and thus save a ton of coin. But using the Mobile One is convenient as we can pick up a jug or two while we’re under the evil spell of Wally World.


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17 Responses to “Perils of the Quick Lube”

  1. john dough July 6th, 2010 9:21 am

    I bet the grease monkey forgot to lube the threads before putting on the new filter. Had a guy do that to me before in Montana and the filter was welded.

  2. Lou July 6th, 2010 2:56 pm

    Yeah, it felt like it had thread locker on it or something. I’ll bet that’s exactly what happened, the guy forgot to put some fresh oil on the gasket, and perhaps wiped the threads down with a rag… bogus, and I thought the place was pretty on top of it when we stopped in there. Another thing I’ve learned over the years is you don’t have to tighten an oil filter very much at all, and you just glance at it now and then to make sure it’s not seeping…

  3. Nickites July 6th, 2010 3:09 pm

    My cage fight with a filter involved running it through with a screwdriver in order to develop the torque and grip I needed to get it unseated. I like the looks of the pliers. My technique was nothing short of a complete mess. Now I throw an old old tarp down underneath my catchpan so I catch any spills and speed my cleanup.

  4. John July 6th, 2010 5:02 pm

    I’ve done the screwdriver trick and it worked like a charm. Especially when coupled with the tarp.

  5. Lou July 6th, 2010 5:21 pm

    Done the screwdriver trick, what a mess but it works if you have room. This situation was so tight that the pliers were better as I could move them in small increments unlike a rammed through screwdriver, which would have immediately moved into an inaccessible position. I’ve also got a plastic “socket” wrench that might have fit on the flutes at the rear of the filer, but that thing tends to deform and slip so I like the pliers.

  6. Ed July 6th, 2010 6:35 pm

    For stuck oil filters, my Dad showed me a trick years ago – use an old fan belt to put on about three or four wraps, as close to the oil filter base by the engine block as you can get. When you get this snugged down, it should turn the filter slowly by reefing on one end. I have used this for the problem you mentioned with success, whereas the screwdriver trick has destroyed a filter, yet left the base of the darned thing still stuck firmly to the block. Surgical removal then required. May the force (torque) be with you!

  7. Lou July 6th, 2010 6:37 pm

    Ed, cool!

  8. altis July 7th, 2010 3:41 am

    I’ve never used the screwdriver method as I didn’t like the thought of no oil and and a still stuck filter.

    I made a custom tool out of a length of webbing and a small piece of wood. I measured up the webbing so that it would go once round the filter and then bolted it to the end of the wood. Now I just slip the loop over the filter and then pull on the other end of the wood. The twisting action makes the webbing grip well and then I have a long lever to apply enough torque.

    These days I have several Boa Constrictor wrenches in various sizes which do for all sorts of similar jobs including removing stubborn jam jar lids.These products work on the same principle but have adjustable straps. I’m not sure if these are as readily available in the States but there seem to be a couple on Amazon.

  9. John Gloor July 7th, 2010 6:18 pm

    You can’t trust the quick lube guys with anything. I was on a biking road trip and realized I was overdue for my oil change. Usually I do all maintenance, but I had no gear to do it with. As the guy was pulling my 4runner into a bay, I had to stop him and point out the expensive mtn bike on top. They rolled the door all the way up and pulled it in. After the oil change, another dude jumped in and promptly drove into the other garage door on the exit side, which was also rolled half way up. Then they whined about having to buy me a new seat and carbon post.

  10. Bar Barrique July 10th, 2010 1:54 pm

    Yeah, I have an assortment of filter wrenches, a strap wrench, and, a vice grip chain wrench, though my powerstroke diesel uses an over priced proprietary cartridge filter. I also change my own oil, and, use Chevron 5w40 heavy duty synthetic, works nice for cold weather starting.

  11. gus July 11th, 2010 3:25 am

    almost nobody up here uses those,
    theres alot of better local garages and even more backyard mechanics.
    nobody up here trusts the franchises,
    i guess its just an alaskan thing.

  12. Scott July 11th, 2010 5:31 pm

    I have friends that run 20,000 miles in their diesels before oil changes. I was skeptical at first, but several oil manufacturers that sell synthetic oil will also include a test kit with the case of oil. You include a sample every 3-5000 miles, send it in (free) and they will test it and advise you whether it is still adequate.

    The sysnthetic oil is super expensive, but if you get 15-20k miles then it is quite cheap. Just a thought, I know an owner of a 2001 Cummins that finally changed at 40,000 even though the oil was fine according to the company.

  13. Lou July 11th, 2010 6:01 pm

    Gus, yeah, I guess I didn’t have the local beta on oil changes! Sure were a lot of people using the place, and the employees were nice…

  14. John Gloor July 11th, 2010 7:43 pm

    Scott, I am running Amsoil synthetic in my 4runner (gas engine) and they say their oil could go 25,000 mi or one year, which ever comes first. I change it at 5-7 thousand and it is getting kind of dark. Do diesels usually go further between oil changes than gas engines?

  15. Jon July 12th, 2010 11:28 pm

    I think diesels usual go longer between changes because they almost always require synthetic oils anymore. Diesel oils also are designed to handle the higher soot levels that diesel fuel creates, and it turns dark almost instantly because of this soot. For this reason, color of the oil isn’t a very good indicator of needing to change the oil.

  16. Lou July 13th, 2010 6:37 am

    Jon, yeah, my Duramax oil is instantly black after a change… I’ve heard there is a filter that’ll take that soot out, but the soot particles are so small they cause little to no wear, it’s just that it builds up in the oil to the point where a change is necessary due to the amount of soot getting ridiculous. With the soot filter, it’s said you can drive nearly forever on the same oil, which is pretty cool when you think of the savings in money and environment. See

  17. XXX_er July 21st, 2010 5:47 pm

    The manual recommends 505 spec 5-40 castrol synthetic at 10$ a litre in my VW TDi changed every 16000 kms and the oil instantly goes black

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