How to change your car's vital fluids

It's not just your engine oil that needs changing
by Paulo Rafael Subido | Mar 4, 2017

I change the oil of my car every 5,000km. Overkill? Hardly. Driving in Manila’s stop-and-go traffic can be really tough on a car’s engine. But there is more to maintaining your ride. Transmission and differential oil needs to be changed as well. It’s easy to forget to service these vital parts because the intervals are so far apart. I’m here to remind you that it has to be done. My car’s LSD no longer binds and feels much safer now.

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Difficulty level
It’s easy. The problem is finding a place to dispose of the old oil. Thus, doing this at a gas station solves the problem as they have access to proper disposal facilities. Please, never ditch old oil down a drain.

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Things to check

*Depending on use, gear oil should be changed every 60,000km.

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*Differential oil wears out quicker and should be changed every 30,000km. Again, this depends on how hard the car is used.

The gear

*Engine oil and oil filter 

*Gear oil

*Differential oil

*Spark plugs


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Changing the essential fluids of your car

1) The easiest way is to get the car up on a lifter and locate all of the drain plugs. Draining the crank case of the engine is straightforward enough. However, before you drain the oil of the transmission and the differential, locate the fill plugs as well. Make sure that you can loosen these first. It will be a small disaster if you’ve already drained the oils and can’t replace them. The fill plug is usually found above the drain plug on the transmission and differential housings. This is a vital tip that will save you from potential headaches.

2) While the engine is still warm, drain the engine oil. This is the best time, because warm oil will flow better than cold oil. Note the condition of the oils and the service intervals. I like to make entries in my car maintenance journal so that I don’t forget what has been done. Also be very careful and do not overfill the oil of the engine. Note how much oil the engine can take. Usually, a 1.6-liter engine takes 3.8L.

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3) If it is time, I change the spark plugs and the air filter as well. I change the plugs every 10,000km. If your car has an aftermarket air filter, read up on the brand and service the part accordingly. In the case of K&N filters, a special cleaner has to be used, and then the filter element has to be oiled. Follow the instructions, please. While the car is up on the lift, inspect the suspension components for parts that are worn out and need to be replaced. I also use this opportunity to do some wiping and cleaning in the engine bay to keep it from getting all dirty from grime. Is everything in order? Good. Now you can drive your car hard again. Hello, track day!

Extra tips:

*If your car has an LSD, make sure the differential oil that you use is LSD-specific. If not, you may run into premature wear problems and a damaged LSD. Costly.

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*There are different weights for transmission and differential oil. Do research to find what suits your car best.

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Note: This article originally appeared in Top Gear Philippines' June 2016 issue.

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PHOTO: Paulo Rafael Subido
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