Changing Your Engine Oil
Short Cuts

Authoring and Photography By: Chris Perosi
First Published: February 2000

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The arrow points to the oil pan drain plug, located at the lowest point of the oil pan.

Changing Your Engine Oil

Changing the engine oil is one of the first mechanical experiences most people have with their vehicles, because it is one of the maintenance items that needs to be done most often. It is relatively simple to do, and can be done by anyone with a ratchet set and a drain pan. However, many four-wheelers take this for granted, and have their oil changed at a "quickie lube" shop. Furthermore, there are a lot of people out there who don't even know how to change their oil. Granted, you won't save yourself much money by doing it yourself, however, what happens if you have to change the oil on the trail? You'd be wise to try it at least once in the comfort of your own driveway or garage first.

The first step in an oil change is to purchase the necessary fluids and a filter. Your owner's manual will indicate the proper viscosity oil for your application (i.e. 10W-30) and your local auto-parts store should have a listing of which oil filters are used on even the newest makes and models. Once you have all the supplies you'll need, you can get out your ratchet set, and go to work.

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Be sure to position the drain pan so it will catch the oil, taking into account the position of the drain plug.

Before starting this, you should warm up your engine for a few minutes. This will help the oil flow better, and you'll get better and faster drainage as a result. You'll need to locate the drain plug for your crankcase. This should be located at the lowest point of your oil pan, underneath the engine. Once you locate this plug, position your drain pan to catch the oil, and loosen the plug carefully and slowly. Take special care to position the drain pan so that it will catch the oil even if it doesn't flow straight down, as shown in the picture. Once the oil is flowing out, remove the plug, being careful not to drop it in the drain pan, and allow the oil pan to drain completely. After the oil begins draining, remove the fill plug at the top of the engine to help the oil flow better.

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The red arrow shows the oil filter, near the front of this particular engine.

Once the oil has completely drained out, you can remove and replace the oil filter. You should be able to loosen it by hand, but if it's too tight, use a filter wrench. Note that a small amount of oil will come out of the filter area, so position your drain pan accordingly. Once the old filter is removed, apply a small amount of oil to the seal surface of the new oil filter with your finger, and twist it into place. Tighten it until the surfaces touch, then continue to tighten an additional 3/4 turn. Be sure not to overtighten it as this will ruin the seal.

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Fill the crankcase back up via the fill hole on the top of the engine, checking the dipstick periodically so as to not overfill.

After the new filter is in place, replace the drain plug at the bottom of the oil pan and tighten to specifications. Once everthing is sealed up tight on the bottom, you can refill the oil. Unlike the author, be sure to use a funnel if you intend to keep your engine looking shiny and clean. Pour approximately one quart less than the manufacturer specifies, then check the dipstick. Continue doing so until the level is between the "add" and the "full" marks on the dipstick.

That's all there is to it. The entire process should take you under 15 minutes even your first time. If you position your drain pan carefully, you won't even get very dirty, so there's no reason everyone shouldn't try this themselves at least once. After you've done it and see how easy it is, if you still choose to bring your truck to the "quickie lube" shops, at least you'll know what you're doing should you have to do this on the trail. To discuss this and other regular maintenance items, please visit the Isuzu Forum and post to this thread.

Reminder: Be sure to bring used oil to your local recycling center for proper disposal.

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