I'm a reasonably handy guy, whether it be assembling something or basic woodworking. For example, I needed a shelf of a very specific size for my room recently and instead of trying to purchase it, I grabbed some lumber and built one to the exact specifications. Usually these projects might save me a bit of money, but I do it more for the personal satisfaction and enjoyment.
Well just recently my car became due for an oil change and I thought to myself, "Changing my own oil would be a great way to exercise my handyman skills!". And so I did some research and found that it isn't too difficult, could save me a bit of money in the long run, and may actually be beneficial for my vehicle. Plus, oil was on sale at Canadian Tire! It was meant to be! Fast forward a few weeks and it has been a slightly stressful adventure for a couple of reasons.
- You need a good spot to change oil. It has to be reasonably level, and if you're like me it also has to be private (I hate people watching me tinker away at something). In my specific situation I also needed a curb to gain a couple inches of clearance. It took some pondering, but eventually I settled on a huge office parking lot that's deserted on weekends.
- You need to invest in a quite a few materials: oil, oil filter, oil filter wrench, wrenches (which I found out the hard way come in 2 distinct sets, metric and SAE, thanks America), and an oil pan. Depending on your vehicle and preferences you may also need a jack/jackstand or wheel ramps. I tried to be frugal and even still, it's going to take many oil changes to make back the costs of all these materials. This isn't really because the materials are outrageously expensive; It's because mechanics often price oil changes at a loss.
- Your last mechanic might have had Popeye arms and over-tightened everything. This is what really killed the experience for me. I know that with little experience and a limited toolbox, I can create big problems by stripping or rounding out bolts. So I begrudgingly accepted defeat and will take it to the mechanic this time. I've also heard the filter can be a nightmare but I didn't even get to the point.
I haven't given up just yet. I'm going to tell the mechanic not to tighten things so heavily this time, and I may even ask if I can watch them do it to try and gain additional confidence in the process. Then once the car is due again it will be my time to shine. In the meantime, I may be a little more selective in the projects I take on.