My Little Red Car: Oil Change


I own an number of cars and although you don’t see them all in one spot, they do exist. I tried to keep it so that I only had a couple (one primary, one backup) but my passion for an old car to tool around in pulled in more vehicles. Unfortunately, that passion has led to stagnation mostly because I haven’t had the money to restore the old timers to any usable state.

By far my favorite vehicle so far is my 1987 Nissan Sentra. Yeah, if you see me on Facebook I talk about it a lot but that just shows how much I enjoy the little thing. It’s not the prettiest with numerous rust patches but it’s a 5-speed manual and just a hoot to drive around in. Plus, I’m a big guy so it must be interesting to see me get in and out of this car.

With it being nearly 30 years old though, there is always something new to challenge me.

Tonight I figured I would change the oil myself instead of taking it to Valvoline. I really did consider taking it to the Nissan dealership but I never got around to getting an appointment. I’ve changed oil on numerous cars and truck on my own before and the only reason I had stopped was out of convenience for just driving in and driving out without worrying about getting dirty or where to dispose of the used oil. Yet tonight I have decided to stop dealing with Valvoline.

This choice isn’t wholly on my experience tonight, that I will elaborate on shortly, but also because they are getting really annoying with pushing repairs on me.

VIOC: Do you want an oil change?
Me: Yes
VIOC: Your wipers look worn. We can replace them for $19.99
Me: No
VIOC: Your air filter is dirty. We can replace that for $23.95
Me: No
VIOC: You have an upper brake light out. We can replace that for $5.00
Me: *Sigh*, No

Why not just change the oil, list the other items, and then let me know at the end if there are other problems that I should consider? Instead, they keep pushing things on my like a drug dealer.

But tonight I drained the oil from the Sentra and got ready to remove the oil filter but it wouldn’t budge. I tried from different angles and that thing was on so tight there was no way I was getting it off with my bare hands but I didn’t have the special wrench to remove it. So, I went redneck and punched it with a screwdriver. That didn’t work either and I was just tearing the but off without getting anywhere. And so I drove back to town and got the wrench I needed then back home to a now dark driveway to remove that filter.

Still, with the wrench it took all I had to grip down on it and get it to barely twist over and finally become loose enough to remove it. I really want to find the guy that put that filter on there, cut his wrist tendons, and have him remove that filter for me because I definitely hurt after that.

In between my attempts to remove the filter and resting under the car, I looked over the underside to see what was what and how the new exhaust system was setup. There was a couple wires leading down to something in the transmission and I reached up to touch it, and it broke. *sigh*

Fortunately for me I have the actual shop manual for the car and was able to find that it was a wire to the reverse light switch. I got in the car, put it in reverse, and sure enough the backup lights never came on. By the time I got this figured out though it was too dark to work on it so that will be my project in the morning.

In addition to that fiasco I see now that there is another problem that I need to contend with. There is a seal leaking on the back of the transmission that I really should get replaced and also that means I really need to get the car on a lift so that the transmission fluid can be checked properly.

My only limitation is actually finding the parts. Some cars become classics and parts remain on the market but in the case of this car, not so much. I know where to get new and salvage parts but depending on the item, it has been getting more and more challenging to find exactly what I need without paying a huge amount for them.

All of this is maintenance and that is why the older cars haven’t manifested into anything yet because of the costs involved with just getting them going is outweighed by the costs of keeping my main two vehicles going. But, since I have so much fun with this car, I’m going to keep putting money into it to not only maintain it but also get some upgrades. I want to tint the windows and put in a new radio with Bluetooth and some nice but simple speakers in it yet. Then it’s a matter of finding replacement body panels with less rust on them.

I just hope that by doing my own oil changes again now, that I don’t have to struggle so much with the corporate charm or the impossible to remove filters.

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