Oil Change For Your Truck
Save more by changing your truck’s oil.
By Tim Walton
I don’t always work on trucks, but when I do, some things are actually easier. It’s true that engine bay work often requires a stepladder to reach inside, but there is usually plenty of room compared to the import cars I see. For the DIY mechanic some maintenance tasks like oil changes can be easier because there is more room underneath a truck.
Oil is the life-blood of any engine, and big pickups are no exception. While their larger stature can be a bit intimidating, they’re virtually the same as a car for basic maintenance such as oil changes. In fact, their higher oil capacity means a greater opportunity to save money on an oil change when you do it yourself.
There are some differences when it comes to doing an oil drain, filter change and refill on a large vehicle. For example, you need to make sure the drain pan you’re going to use has enough capacity so you’re not fighting with an overflowing, sloshing container of oil.
There are also a few tools that will make the job easier. Depending on the clearance underneath your truck, you might be lucky enough to access all you need by crawling under or, better yet, rolling under with the aid of a creeper—something which is almost never true of an oil change on a car or lower vehicle. If you do need extra clearance you can utilize a jack and jack stands or wheel ramps. Be sure that jacks or ramps are heavy-duty and rated for the weight of your truck. Follow all safety precautions listed with the jacks and ramps.
Whichever method you use, set the parking brake and use chock blocks to ensure nothing moves.
Depending on how tight the oil filter is, having a filter wrench to assist with removing it can be key. Filter wrenches come in a variety of designs. Filter cap wrenches are designed for a specific filter. Plier and gear style wrenches tighten down to fit different size filters using a metal band, rubber strap or chain to cinch down on the filter. They all have their different applications that work well, but take into account how much room you have to access the filter.
In a pinch, you can drive a screwdriver through the walls of the filter near the bottom to gain more mechanical advantage to spin the filter off. This method almost always proves to be messy, and if you’re going to continue to perform your own oil changes, investing in an oil-filter wrench is well worth it.
It is very important that you get the proper fitment of oil filter for your vehicle. Just because a filter screws on doesn’t mean it’s correct. Make sure you’re purchasing a filter that is specific for your vehicle. There are other thread pitches and sizes that are close enough that the filter will thread on and feel like it’s tight but could come loose once the full oil pressure of the engine is applied to it, especially combined with the heat and vibration of a running engine.