The perils of infrequent oil changes.

misc-true-story

When it comes time to change the oil on my car, I take it to my parents’ house where I back my car in the garage just enough so the front bumper sticks out of the garage. That way I can easily slide the oil pan under the car, remove the plug to drain the oil and remove the old filter. After draining the oil, I re-install the plug, replace the filter, add the new oil, and then finish the job by recording the date and mileage on the garage wall.

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The wall on the garage is decorated with dates and mileages of previous cars I owned as I performed the many oil changes over the years. But no oil change is more memorable than the Great Oil Change Disaster of July 20, 1990. That’s when I owned a 1981 Honda Civic, my very first car. According to the writing on the wall, the last time I had changed the oil was on October 28, 1989, which was a span of 8 months and 22 days between oil changes. I was to learn what a mistake that was.

The oil change went off without a hitch, or so I thought. I changed the  filter, drained the dirty oil and added the fresh oil, just I had done many times before. By the time I was finished, it was time for me to go to work, so I changed to my work clothes, got in my car and drove off.

As I was leaving the driveway, I glanced in my rear view mirror and noticed a long trail of oil that began where my car was parked when I did the ill-fated oil change and continued down the street where I was driving. All the oil had drained out and I was left to wonder what happened as I continued driving to work with an empty oil reservoir. Fortunately, my job was only a few miles away so it wasn’t a very long drive to and from work.

The next day I investigated what happened and found the cause. When I removed the old oil filter, a piece of gasket had broken off and stayed in place to prevent me from fully seating the new filter, thus allowing the oil to escape when I started the engine.

After spending a sweaty afternoon of scrubbing away the oily trail from the driveway, I’d say I pretty much learned my lesson.

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