Oil Change Adventure

Today was the first day I had a free chunk of time in the morning and decided to get all my car stuff out of the way. Registration at the town hall was easy; for the record, it cost me $177.20 and I got new stickers for the plate. Unfortunately, I did not realize I also needed to do the NH state inspection as well because I have a June sticker on my car (which apparently was a mistake on the inspection site’s part). The City Clerk told me she was surprised I haven’t been pulled over yet! I haven’t been pulled over at all since I started driving and I am NOT looking forward to the day it happens.

Then I headed over to Wilson Tires for an oil change. I liked that it was on my way to work and that they accepted the Goodyear coupon for a winter care package, which included an oil and filter change, tire rotation, other car fluid refills, and tire pressure check (see picture). They also have a shuttle service, but since it didn’t take very long, I stuck around. The shop front is very nice and had a spacious waiting room. I was the only customer so I asked if I could watch the work being done on the car and the mechanic, Andy, was very accommodating and he even talked me through everything he was doing. He patiently answered all my questions and was happy to explain things again.

So this was how it went:

  1. he drove the car into the bay, reset the oil life reading and popped open the hood
  2. inspected air filter — a little bit of dirt but overall fine
  3. inspected all the fluids: oil, transmission, coolant, wiper, brake, and power steering.
  4. topped off wiper fluid (this one has lower freezing point); I asked if it was ok to mix different types (answer: yes).
  5. raised the car up and inspected the bottom
  6. removed the oil filter (see picture above). He showed me the new part (NAPA brand) and explained how the filter works and why it’s necessary. I was surprised by the size of it — like a 6oz cup. For comparison, he even showed me the paper filter part for a diesel engine, which is much bigger than this part.
  7. checked the tire pressure while the oil was draining out of the old oil filter. all pressure good!
  8. replaced with new oil filter
  9. unscrewed the oil tank and drained the used oil. It was a dark stream of liquid with high viscosity –about 4.5 quarts.
  10. in the meantime, rotated the tires from front to back (see picture). He pointed out the brake pads (see picture) and told me the wear is normal for the mileage so don’t have to replace yet. He explained the tool used to take the lug nuts on/off is set to a torque of 50.
  11. put the screw back on the bottom of the oil tank and lowered the car
  12. used a hand crank to increase the torque on the lug nuts to 80. I would still have to come back after 5-50 miles to get them re-tightened.
  13. filled the engine with 4 quarts of 5W20 synthetic blend oil (Gulf brand and they have this on “tap”) and turned on the car briefly so that the oil goes into the filter (~20 secs).
  14. checked the oil levels with the dipstick and added more oil till it covered the crosshatched part.
  15. replaced the cover and closed the hood. Done! 30 minutes.

Some things to note: they don’t have “regular oil” aka non synthetic, but they still very kindly honored the Goodyear coupon for $29.95 because I had spoken to the manager (Michael) about it before I handed the keys over and there seemed to be a misunderstanding/miscommunication about the kind of oil the coupon covered. They also currently have a coupon on their website for $32.95 (regular price $39.95), which would’ve been a better deal than the Goodyear coupon (which is the second line amount of $49.95). I would’ve been happy to pay the extra $3, but they were really nice. The car drives very smoothly (not sure if it’s any smoother than before, but still smooth). I even saw a couple of Dartmouth College vans there getting serviced. And bonus, I got to watch another mechanic operate the machine that puts the tires on the rims and fill it with air –he kindly warned me beforehand that there might be a loud popping noise as the tire inflates.

Overall: Wilson Tires has great service and reasonable price for oil and filter change. Ask for Michael (manager) and Andy (mechanic).

tl;dr I got a half hour lesson on oil change, tire rotation, and fluid checking at Wilson Tires for a reasonable price.

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