Question Of The Day: Have You Ever Messed Up… An Oil Change?

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
question of the day have you ever messed up an oil change

I missed.

The oil drain container was placed right below the drain plug. Everything seemed to be fine.

I did a little left loosey. Got the drain plug off. A brief torrent of black fluid followed the nearest path of escape.

Straight to the floor of my driveway.

It seemed like I was getting it all. But thanks to a slight hill, about a quarter of it was spilling off to the side and onto the pavement.

I didn’t even notice the spill until it had crept out of the shadow underneath my car and onto plain sight. It reminded me of the old 1950’s move, “The Blob”. Except the mad scientist of the moment was nothing more than a young guy who apparently could not aim at anything right between his eyes. .

A rush under the car. A quick move six inches to the rear, and all was fine again. Except now I would have to use a few rags to dry off the spillage on the container and a long trip to the parts store to buy a heaping load of absorbent.

It took multiple doses of the stuff and a power washer from a neighbor to finally undue the damage. Thankfully, I learned my lesson and moved forward with continuing degrees of self-reliance.

But what about you? Were you ever involved or directly associated with an oil change that went the way of an old Three Stooges sketch? Feel free to include any botched repair if the world of oil has always been good to you. It’s Monday.. let’s enjoy a story.

Editor’s Note: I can be reached at steve . lang @ thetruthaboutcars. com (no spaces) .

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4 of 92 comments
  • Broo Broo on Jul 09, 2012

    Whoever put the 3.0L in the Ford Ranger never had to change the oil himself on a driveway. You have 2 choices : A - You get under the engine to remove the filter, you have to position yourself so that you will receive all the oil on you when you pull it. B - You pull the filter from OVER the engine. You have to get burned by the headers. I imagine standing up under the truck, the filter removal is a trivial process. So changing the oil in the Ranger means waiting until the engine is cold.

  • Ziptech108 Ziptech108 on Jul 09, 2012

    Not a *change* story per se... but just as amusing one about oil and epic fail... I was a powersports dealer tech in AZ in the late '90s, just getting into the work, when a Honda TRX400EX sport quad came in with a complaint of top end noise. Owner said the quad began rattling horribly after a a day at the dunes, so being that Arizona and dune play are pretty synonymous, (and the TRX-EX/XR400R have a dry-sump tank that is easily filled improperly by new owners), I suspected a lack of oil failed to quiet the camchain tensioner, as I rubbed my chin. A proper fill with an inspection and test, and they're on the trail again, I thought... It sounded *loud*, way too loud for a camchain. I removed the valve cover to discover a blackstrap mess with little metal flecks in it, rocker arm pads worn to oblivion. Holy crap, I thought... and took off the RH engine cover... TRXs and XRs have a plastic oil pump gear driven by the crank, held onto its shaft with a circlip. This circlip was nowhere to be found, and the gear was lying in the sump, free of gear-wear marks. It was never secured to the shaft at all at the factory, as the gasket was clean and unmolested. Owner of course got a brand-new TRX-EX on the spot, after a call to American Honda and some photographs. But that Honda had run with zero oil pressure, and only what oil it had been assembled with, for several hours of WOT dune riding before it finally gave up. It still ran, just crappy and noisy. Wish Hondas were still made this way. :)

  • Boosted_sled Boosted_sled on Jul 09, 2012

    Double-gasketed an F150 for a 4 quart mess. Always make sure you have the old gasket in hand!

  • Smallenginesmakemesad Smallenginesmakemesad on Jul 09, 2012

    When I was 16 (probably the 3rd oil change I had ever done) I forgot to put the plug back in and tipped about 2 pints of oil straight through the engine onto the garage floor before I realized. I have never made that mistake again.