Oil change time

In preparation for the first engine restart I wanted to change the oil. This was a pretty straight forward operation. I got the front of the car up on jack stands to make accessing the oil pan easier. I then crawled under and, having pre-positioned a plastic basin to catch the oil, and used a 1″ wrench to open the plug bolt. The oil that came out was as black as pitch. I’ve read that this doesn’t necessarily indicate that your oil was worn out or too old, but it certainly doesn’t mean it’s still good. Most importantly it didn’t have little sparkles that indicate metal shavings which was my greatest concern.

After the drip of old oil stopped I reinstalled the plug. I probably could have used the old plug, which was in fine shape, but I had a new one on hand so I used that instead. I also had what I thought were the appropriate copper crush washers, but when I tried to fit the plug through one I found that they were too small. This meant I had to reuse the old washer. I know you’re not really supposed to do this, but it seemed to be in fine shape plus the Internet agreed that it’s not a big deal. The plug got tightened down to 44 ft-lbs (60 Nm) and, because of the reused crush washer, I gave it just the slightest of extra force with a regular wrench to compensate. This almost definitely wasn’t required. Call me a belts-and-suspend kind of guy.

The oil filter

With any oil change it’s usually a good idea to change the oil filter too, but first I had to get the old one out. I have a simple rubber strap wrench which I hoped would be capable of of the job, but a combination of the crappiness of the wrench itself and interference from the exhaust manifold made it useless for this application. I had to put a call out to a few neighbors to see if they had one to borrow. Thankfully a close by neighbor-friend had a number of them, so I had options. There were two kinds of “metal strap” style wrenches, a similar one but of plastic, and a plier style. The strap styles turned out to be too big, and using the metal one also reminded me of the importance of disconnecting the battery when doing any engine work. I accidentally touched the back of the nearby alternator and got a few short-circuit sparks for my trouble. Oops. The plier style wrench was the only one that both could get a good grip on my filter and fit into the confined space where it lived. After a bit of cajoling the filter started to budge and was able to be taken off.

After I got the old filter off I filled the new one, a Mahle OC204 that came recommended for the engine, about half way with new oil and reattached it to the block to finger tightness. I then used the same wrench to tighten it down. The filter body had torque specs printed on the side, but there was no way I was going to be able to follow them. I just slowly cranked the filter down to what seemed like a reasonable tightness and called it good.

New oil

All that was left was to refill the engine with new oil. Volvo calls for 10W-30 in colder climates like the one I live in. The engine takes 4 US quarts total. Take your time when pouring to avoid spilling, especially onto the exhaust manifold as oil there will eventually burn when the exhaust gets hot.

Glug Glug Glug

The car is basically ready for its first restart in months. Everything is cleaned and reassembled. Once I have the engine going I’ll want to do a distilled water flush of the cooling system.