Changing your engine’s oil on a regular schedule is one of the most important things that you can do to extend the life of your engine. Our trusty Perkins diesel is 35 years old, and she still runs like a top! Luckily, she’s had two very responsible owners who’ve cared for her properly over the years. I’m now the third owner of this engine, and I change the oil every 50 hours of run time. And, since we motored all of the way from Maryland to Florida, I’ve changed the oil 5 times. In only 2.5 months!
Many of our readers are already familiar with how to change the oil in their automobile’s engine. Others may have never changed an engine’s oil. I’ve always enjoyed performing this task on the cars and the motorcycle that I’ve owned, and, with all of this recent practice on our boat, I’ve gotten pretty good at changing it while afloat as well. I’ve decided to distill my experience performing this essential maintenance function down to 25 easy-to-remember steps that anyone can follow.
While the procedures for changing a boat engine’s oil are theoretically the same as those used on a car, there are some slight differences that are worth noting. We live on a boat, but I fully realize that most of our readers do not. Therefore, to make this article useful to the majority, I’ve reduced my methods to those that any landlubber can understand. However, if you live on a boat, you’ll still understand.
Just like frying Spam, good preparation is the key to success. You wouldn’t just throw the whole loaf right into a scalding hot pan. You’d slice it first, of course. So it goes with an oil change – there are a few things you’ll need to do before jumping into the oil change itself.
Step 1: Ask your significant other to spend an enjoyable day exploring the city with her friends.
Step 2: Measure the width of your car.
Step 3: Drag the bed from the guest bedroom into the kitchen. Place the bed next to your refrigerator. Using the measurements from Step 2, leave exactly a car’s-width space between the bed and the refrigerator.
Step 4: Drive your car into the kitchen and park it between your bed and the refrigerator – ensuring that the front of the car is pressed up against a wall. Leave the engine running while you complete the following steps. This will warm the oil and provide essential exhaust fumes for the rest of the house.
Step 5: Carry your toolbox into the living room and jam it underneath the cushion of your recliner.
Step 6: Climb into the attic and drag everything you find there into the living room. Then, dump all of that stuff on top of the recliner.
Step 7: While standing on your refrigerator, completely remove the hood from your car. Carry it into the hallway and set it down. Make sure that access to the living room is completely blocked.
Step 8: Reverse the process in the previous step so you can get back into the living room.
Step 9: Remove the pile of crap from the recliner and retrieve your toolbox from underneath the cushion. Replace pile of crap. Carry the toolbox into the kitchen, set it on the couch, and repeat the car hood removal process outlined in Step 7. Only this time, while placing it in the hallway, drop the hood on your toe.
Step 10: Crawl through your car from the driver’s side back seat, to the passenger side front seat. Climb out the passenger side window and scale the side of your refrigerator. When you get to the top of the refrigerator, throw yourself out of the nearest exterior window.
Step 11: Once outside, retrieve a gallon of oil from the shed. Make sure to slip on the wet patio and pull your groin muscle.
Step 12: Climb back through the kitchen window and down the side of the refrigerator. Set the gallon of oil in the kitchen sink. Make note of the leaking propane smell – disregard for the time being.
Step 13: Turn off engine.
The Oil Change
Step 14: Climb into the backseat of your car. While stretching across the front seat, reach out of the driver’s side window and around into the engine compartment. Remove the dipstick from the engine. Make note of the fabric-staining properties of the old oil. Accidentally drop the dipstick with fabric-staining oil onto the kitchen rug. DO NOT CLEAN UP THE SPILL! This will be needed later for getting into trouble with the Mrs.
Step 15: Insert your longest drinking straw into the dipstick hole. This straw will be used for sucking the old oil out of the engine. Suck out the old oil and deposit into the container lying next to the stove.
Step 16: Make note of the blood running down your shin. To better see the wound, brace yourself with one oily hand on the refrigerator and bend over at the waist. Wipe away blood with your other oily hand. “Promise” yourself to treat the wound after you’re done changing the oil.
Step 17: Crawl onto the guest bed while dragging wounded shin across the bed frame. While swearing loudly, wipe blood from guest bed with oily hand. Remind yourself to cleanup the oil stain after you’re done changing the oil.
Step 18: While lying on guest bed, reach over the driver’s side front tire and punch a hole in the wheel well. Force your arm through this hole and feel around blindly for the oil filter. Remove bloody arm. Climb off of the guest bed and retrieve oil filter wrench from the couch.
Step 19: Repeat Step 18 with oil filter wrench in hand.
Step 20: Loosen oil filter with wrench. Unscrew oil filter with bare hands until scalding hot oil gushes forth from the top of the oil filter. Make note of the burning sensation and jerk hand away – ensure that you drop the hot and slippery oil filter. While swearing loudly, remember that you forgot to place a pail underneath the filter to capture the mess.
Step 21: Climb over car hood in hallway and retrieve new oil filter from the cushions of the sofa. Make note of oily hand print on the ceiling.
Step 22: Open new gallon of oil pour into new oil filter. To ensure that you’ve completely filled filter with oil, continue pouring until oil runs all over the hardwood kitchen floor. Check oil’s lubricity by stepping in spill.
Step 23: Crawl across guest bed with completely-filled new oil filter.
Step 24: Jam hand and new oil filter through hole produced in Step 18. Blindly search for oil filter installation location. When location has been identified, cross-thread new oil filter to ensure future leaks.
Step 25: Refill engine with remaining oil from the gallon you opened in Step 22. Recall that 1 gallon equals four quarts. While swearing loudly, remind to remind yourself that your engine requires 5 quarts.
See? Easy peasy. I’m confident that if you follow the above simple steps to the letter, you, too, will be changing your oil in only 6-7 hours. Your engine will love you for it!