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Oil Change (2nd Gen)

Author: Matthew Ebel
Date: Sun Jun 05, 2005 7:04 pm

Do read the entire article before proceeding with your oil change. There may be parts listed that you don't need or alternatives/problems that might apply to you. Also, this may be updated if necessary in the future.

The Supplies:
What I Had To Buy:
(Approx. prices as found in Nashville)
  • $20 - Rhino Ramps 8000
    (or something other than a jack)
  • $7 - Oil Drain Pan
    (get a good one with a wide mouth)
  • $20 - 5 qts. Mobil-1 5w-30/5w-20 Motor Oil
  • <$5 - Motorcraft FL-820S Oil Filter
    (or comparable, check your auto parts store for options)
  • $6 - AmPro Cup-Type Oil Filter Wrench
    (get whichever attachment fits your oil filter)
  • <$5 - OPTIONAL: 1 can of Sea Foam or B12 Chemtool

What I Had Already:
  • Socket Set - 3/8" drive, 3/8" extender, 10mm or 11mm socket
  • 15mm Box Wrench - NOT an open or crescent wrench
  • Funnel
  • Newspaper/Ground Cover
  • Aluminum Foil (if necessary)
  • Rags (DEFINITELY necessary)
  • Gloves (if preferred)
  • Goggles (since you'll be looking up the whole time)
  • Clothes you don't mind burning later

First, some explanation of the parts list. Rhino Ramps have been recommended all over this website because they're cheap, stable, and the MPV front end can clear them without problems. If you have other ramps or supports that work, go for it, but for God's sake don't ever get under a car supported only by a jack. I don't even trust jack stands, but I'm paranoid.

The oil drain pan is a must and, if you're buying one, get one that will also store the oil so you can take it to a recycling location later (in Tennessee, auto parts stores will do it for free).

I use fully synthetic Mobil-1 oil in my MPV. You can use whatever you like, but synthetic oil lasts twice as long and doesn't rely on dead dinosaur meat like regular oil. Mazda recommends either 5w-30 or 5w-20, and frankly either works. The 5w-30 is better for warmer weather, the 5w-20 is better for colder weather.

Your average Motorcraft Oil Filter will work fine if you pick the correct size. Your auto parts store will have a book that lists every filter they carry and what vehicles they fit, and you have your choice of regular, high-mileage, K&N reusable, or maybe even caffeine-free by this point. Again, your standard-issue Motorcraft filter will work fine, just find out which part number at your auto parts store.

To get the filter out, you'll need some kind of Filter Wrench. Given the tightly-designed position of the oil filter, I found that a cup-type oil filter wrench works since you can attach it to a socket wrench with an extender. The drawback is that a cup-type filter will only fit one kind of oil filter and may not be effective if the old filter's on too tight. I had no trouble, hopefully you won't either.

The reason for a box wrench and not an open wrench is that you stand a good chance of stripping the drain plug if you're not turning against all its surfaces. A full-circle box wrench will make thiings easier, and you probably have a set anyway. If not, you ought to.

The rest of the stuff is self-explanatory except the foil- Apparently the 2000-2001 MPV's had a splash guard conveniently placed over the front-end exhaust. This keeps the engine oil from getting on the pipe and stinking like a dead Chevy once it heats up. Once you get under your MPV you'll either see a steel tongue under the oil filter or you won't. Either way, if you want to protect your exhaust pipe, cover the areas near the drain plug and oil filter with foil and just throw it out when you're done.

OPTIONAL: It's a good idea to clean out your fuel line on a regular basis. Keeping the fuel injectors clean will help maintain horsepower, emissions, and efficiency. A single can of Sea Foam or B12 Chemtool every oil change is a good way to do it regularly. Just pour the whole can into the gas tank next time you fill up, then burn through the entire tank before filling up again. Just don't get any of it on your paint job, pour carefully!

The Procedure:
  1. Let your MPV sit long enough to cool off completely. The oil pan and filter are surrounded by nice, hot exhaust pipes, and space is really tight under there. I let The Birdmobile sit overnight and did the oil change in the morning.
  2. Start the MPV and let it run for a minute or two. This heats up the oil a little and kicks up any of the crud that's built up in it. Warm oil flows easier.
  3. If your MPV isn't off the ground already, get it there. Whichever support method you've chosen (ramps, jack stands, etc.), read and follow their directions. Again, never use a single jack and always work on a flat, paved surface.
  4. Shut off the engine and get underneath the front end. If the exhaust pipes have gotten too hot to work around, let them cool down a bit. Chances are good you'll end up touching one of them during the process and no one likes the smell of seared flesh.

    Here's what you'll be looking at:
  5. Spread your ground cover, if any, under the oil pan (with the waffle bottom) and the oil filter (not in the above photo). Newspaper, plastic, cardboard, or whatever, make sure you cover enough area in case of any spills. Otherwise, enjoy big black spots on your driveway/garage floor.
  6. If necessary, cover the exhaust pipes around your drain plug with foil. Some MPV's have a metal splash guard already installed, though you may want to use foil anyway. Err on the side of too much until you're familiar with how this process pans out.
  7. Position your drain pan under the MPV's drain plug. Remember that the oil will travel forward and down as it drains, hence the foil. If your pan is wide enough, this won't be a problem. If you're using Tupperware... well, good luck.
  8. With your box wrench, loosen the drain plug slowly (counter-clockwise). Remember that your oil pan is aluminum, so be gentle yet firm. Once the plug is loose enough, you should be able to unscrew it by hand. Oil will pour out of the hole immediately and may even begin to trickle out as you're loosening, so be ready to adjust your drain pan's position if necessary.
  9. SET YOUR DRAIN PLUG SOMEWHERE HANDY AND DON'T FORGET ABOUT IT. 'Nuff said, right? Make sure you don't lose the plug or the rubber/plastic washer attached to it, these are absolute necessities.
  10. While the oil is draining, scoot forward and grab your socket wrench. To get to the oil filter, you'll need to move a plastic guard out of the way by removing a few bolts (10mm or 11mm). The plastic guard can bend out of the way towards the passenger-side wheel once three bolts are removed. Here's what you'll see:
  11. Once the guard's out of the way, you'll be able to see the oil filter. It may or may not have a metal splash guard underneath it. Just as before, you may want to foil-cover the area anyway to keep oil spills off of the exhaust pipe. Here's the uncovered oil filter (see more photos below for some foil cover):
  12. Whether or not you foil-cover the area, wait until the oil pan is finished draining before removing the oil filter. Once it's done, put the drain plug back in (clockwise). Once again, the oil pan is aluminum, so be gentle yet firm. You need to tighten more than hand-tight but don't over-tighten it. You'll be checking this area for leaks later.
  13. Now that the drain plug is back in, pull the drain pan under the oil filter (keeping the laws of physics in mind again). Oil will flow from the base of the filter as you remove it, so make sure you've covered what you need to. Here's what it'll look like once the filter's removed:
  14. The cup-type wrench I've recommended looks like a ski cap for the oil filter with a 3/8" hole for your socket driver. The cap should fit the edges of your oil filter's top exactly. If you are using a strap wrench or other means, well, have fun getting into this tight area. Here's what a cup-type wrench looks like:
    I found that I'd bought the right cap for my new filter, but Iffy Lube had put another brand on with a different top. Fortunately, the rounded head still fit inside my cap and all I had to do was put a good-sized rubber band around the filter's top to act as a grip.
    Put the cap on the filter, put your socket wrench in the hole (you may need an extension), and start unscrewing (counter-clockwise). As I said, oil will flow from the filter as you're removing it, so this part will be a little messy. Just unscrew the filter completey (you should be able to use your hand once it's loose) and let it drain into your drain pan as well. The filter can contain about a half-quart of oil on its own, so don't just set this aside or toss it until you've emptied it.
  15. This is a good time to grab a rag and make sure you've not spilled any oil on the exhaust pipes. Wipe down the area around the drain plug and the vacant oil filter hole once it's done emptying.
  16. Grab some of your clean oil and dip a finger in there (or use an applicator of some sort). Apply some oil to the rubber gasket on the new oil filter so it will maintain its seal and remove easier next time.
  17. Screw the new oil filter in place and hand-tighten it (clockwise). Make sure it's on there firmly, but don't muscle it too much. Just let the filter make some solid contact, then use your filter wrench and give it another 3/4 turn. You'll be checking here for leaks later, too.
  18. Stand up. Sretch. Let the blood flow back into your arms and go open the MPV's hood.
  19. Remove the engine oil cover and pour in the first 4.5 quarts (most of the big jug, if you bought one). A funnel helps, but good aim works if you're not drinking too much caffeine. When you're done, take a quick glance under the MPV to make sure you actually did remember the drain plug. Seriously, just do it.
  20. Pull out the oil dipstick and wipe it clean with a rag. Then re-insert it all the way and pull it out again. The oil level should be near the MAX line if it isn't there already. If you've still got some room, put a few ounces in there and check the level again. Replace the engine oil cover when you're done.
  21. Moment of truth time... go start up the MPV and let it run for a couple of minutes. While it's idling, check again and take a good long look to see that nothing's leaking. With the engine and the oil pump running, you'll notice pretty soon if the drain plug or oil filter aren't tight enough. If either is dripping, shut off the MPV and tighten what you need to.
    Don't overtighten, though! If you're sure both the plug and the filter are on there firmly, you could damage the filter or your oil pan by cranking them too hard. If you're leaking oil and everything's on there tightly, you've probably got another problem that needs to be looked at.
  22. If there's no leaks, go ahead and clear all your stuff out from under the MPV. Replace the plastic guard and screw the three bolts back in to hold it in place.
  23. Once that's done, go ahead and back the MPV off the ramps (or lower it, knock out the boulder under it, whatever). Like I said before, let it run for a few minutes before you actually turn it off again.
  24. After a few minutes, shut off the engine and let it sit for about five minutes. This is a good time to check some other items:
    • wiper fluid
    • coolant
    • power steering fluid
    • air filter
      (see this article for instructions)
    • other fluids/belts/hoses, check your owner's manual for more info on regular maintenance.

    Clean up your trash while your at it, and get that old oil into a container for transporting it to a recycling center (my drain pan also acts as a sealed container for that purpose).
  25. Once the five minutes have gone by, check the dipstick again (pull, wipe, re-insert, pull again) and make sure your oil level's where it needs to be. Depending on the size of your engine, it'll take anywhere from 4.5 qts. to 6 qts. Do not overfill it! Again, check your owner's manual and go with what's recommended there, or just trust the dipstick.

It should go without saying that you should never throw used oil away or pour it down a drain. Engine oil needs to be disposed of or recycled properly, and most auto parts stores will take care of that for you. Oily rags and newspapers are, of course, a fire hazard and should not be stored in an enclosed area.

If you spilled oil on your driveway or garage floor, clean it up immediately. Again, it's a fire hazard, and big black spots are an ugly thing.

This little instructional may need some updating or corrections, so feel free to comment if necessary. Thanks to the MPV Club users for tips and pointers and thanks to Subearu for the original photos.
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