Oil Change in 2021

It’s that time of year again. Spring is in the air and it’s almost time for the Cat to come out of the bag – or garage. Before a wheel is turned, one job must happen each year: the oil change. There are others, sensible checks on fluid levels and more, but let’s focus here on the main job – the oil change.

On my everyday cars I always leave this job to the service engineers. I much prefer to do the Cat myself – partly because I want to and partly because it seems a silly compromise after having built the thing to trust a simple job like this to someone else.

So if you are thinking of changing the oil on yours, here’s the steps I went through to give the car fresh lubrication.

Prepare the stuff you’ll need

Oil. I use Comma MS5L 5L Motorsport Fully Synthetic 5W50 Motor Oil which is ideal for the Duratec engine and will protect the engine from the higher revs used on track days. The fill will take somewhere between 4 and 5 litres.

Oil filter. I’ve used Fram PH2874 before but found that hard to find this year so went for an equivalent Mann filter.

Rubber washer for the sump plug. Very much optional. My washer is still looking healthy after several changes of oil and three and a half years. I’ll keep checking it at each fill and get one when this one is looking ropey. I didn’t replace it this year.

Prepare the car

Run the engine to warm the oil. I aimed for between 50 and 60 centigrade on my oil temp dial because I knew I’d need a few minutes to complete the next step before I was ready to drain out the oil.

Jack up the car and prop her up on axle stands. I can’t get my oil catch tray under the sump without jacking it up and it’s a lot easier to work on the car with a little bit of height above the floor. I didn’t use my pit as, well, the winter has meant quite a lot of stuff has found it’s way into the garage and is hiding it from sight. But that’s another story.

There’s a lot of differing opinions about how to jack the car up. I use the jacking points as per the Owner’s Manual at front and rear. Always chock the wheels on the ground, and have the handbrake on and never trust a jack to stay up. Axle stands all the way.

Go for it

Remove the sump plug. I needed a long handle ratchet to get the sump plug undone. I just loosened it with the ratchet before undoing it with my fingers, taking care not to drop it into the oil catch tray and to keep the rubber washer in place on the plug.

Undo the oil fill cap on the top of the engine. This lets the oil drain more quickly after the initial gush. I stuff a piece of kitchen towel in the hole to prevent anything falling into the engine while the cap is off.

Wait. It’ll take a fair while to drain, at least a cup of coffee-worth of time. I left it until it was a very slow drip. I also topped up my coolant level while I was there.

Put the sump plug back in. Yes really, I do this now so I don’t forget and pour my lovely new oil all over the floor. Sump plug torque is 34 Nm on the 360 wet sump.

Slide the now full oil catch tray over to the other side of the engine and unscrew the old oil filter. Although I put this on by hand only, I still needed an oil filter removal device to get enough purchase on the filter to unscrew it. This is always messy, so if anyone has any tips for how to do this without oil running all over the filter and my hands, I’d love to hear them.

Fill the old filter with oil and attach, after a wipe of the mating surfaces. The filter will take a surprising amount of oil, enough to show a difference of the dipstick, so it’s worth filling before attaching. Turn until hand-tight.

Fill the engine with oil. I needed between 4 and 5 litres, added at half litre quantities towards the end, until the fresh oil was showing on the dipstick. Apparently the difference between the bottom and top of the dipstick is half a litre. Finally I replace the oil filler cap.

Check all is OK

Once I’ve triple-checked I’ve replaced everything and tightened it all up, I’m ready to drop it back off the axle stands and start the engine to check for leaks. After a run out and a further check of the oil level, plus a cheeky top-up, another summer of motoring awaits!