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Oil change tricks

by Alain Hoffmann

The quick-change valve

This is an quite cheap solution. If you ever found yourself crawling on the frozen floor at 10° below 0 to remove a stubborn bolt from a hot engine and get the arm (and the driveway) full of boiling hot oil do this. Remove the offending bolt. Borrow your wife's car and drive to the nearest hydraulic specialist (see yellow pages). Get a 90° bow (I think on 300 TDi's you can get without this) and an industrial grade manual shut-off valve. Those typically have a large plastic "tongue" for actuating but that's ok. Get also on the other side a fitting for a plastic tube. It makes it easier to direct the used oil into a plastic container. Mount it all using hemp (german: Hanf) at the engine side. For the other connections teflon tape is ok. You want an turnable base as that way you can push the whole assembly up when not in use. Put some bolt in the plastic tube as added safety measure. You can remove that bolt by hand later on. You can take off the plastic valve switch blade so only a very small brass head will remain. That way it can't be opened accidentally when driving through brushes.
I have this assembly on my 90 V8 for several years now and never had any problems. And I drive it quite hard sometimes.

Changing oil is quite easy if you use our valve trick. But what to do with the oil filter? As soon as you unscrew it hot oil starts running around it until it happily drops onto your forearm, finding it's way further and further down until you smell like something the dog found in the garbage bin.

Avoid this by hammering a screwdriver through the body of the old filter and wait some minutes for the filter to drain. This makes the chore much cleaner and avoids stains on your driveway. <grin>

And while we're at it: Get a thick waterproof writer and note your mileage and date onto your new filter. Twice. It makes it impossible to loose your records. BTW, that way someone found out the used car he bought had already covered 100000 kilometres more than the dealer pretended. Sadly the crook forgot to change the filter... true story.


If you're once in a mood to spend some minutes in welding get an old gear or a similar heavy piece and weld some inches of 1/2" tube on it. This gives an good stand you can put in the drain so all the used oil drops out.

BTW, if you cut up your old oil filter you can see any metal worn off the engine. It's very useful if you suspect an internal component. By the color of the particles you can even determine which part is failing. To do this you must however use some tube cutter or the filter will be contaminated by it's own material.

If you have to fill your auto trans on the trail you rarely will have a funnel. But if you pull out the dipstick about halfway you can slowly let oil run along the dipstick and into the filler hole. Sure it takes some minutes but it may safe you a transmission.
Greasing those hard to reach nipples on driveshafts is sometimes hard. Try grinding 2 sides off a grease gun head so they can be inserted into the joint. Don't grind all around as this will weaken the tip too much