DIY-ATNTFIU: R32 Skyline Oil Changes
Doing an oil change on an R32 is a fairly simple process. You drive to an oil change place, reach into your pocket, count out some greenbacks, and spend the next hour or so reading a tattered copy of Tools N' Tatas while silently praying no one you're acquainted with happens to see you and that the monkey in the service bay will remember to put back the oil filter.
Alternatively you could do it yourself and save yourself the stress of wondering whether your prized vehicle is leaving a slick worthy of a BP oil rig down the middle of the road.
In case you're wondering and haven't read my preventive maintenance post here the oil change interval is every 5000 kilometers and the filter change is 10000 km or yearly. I don't see much point in cheaping out on the filter so I do mine with every oil change anyway regardless of timing.
Okay, so before we begin you may want to read my first DIY-ATNTFIU article from last week about jacking up your car.
Getting the car up in the air will be needed in order to actually do this job. Or maybe not if you're the size of a hobbit. I'm not – I look more like a troll - so I prefer to lift the car for easy access. You could also use ramps to get the car in the air if you want – all you need really is just enough height to get to the oil drain plug underneath but they need to be fairly low ramps since after draining the oil from underneath you need to be able to access the top of the engine bay for the rest of the process.
You'll also need a few simple tools and items:
- A socket set
- An oil filter wrench (read step #6 of the oil change process to decide what type you need)
- Oil - a synthetic 15W50 or 10W30 is a good choice and you'll need about 5 liters. I use Motul 300V but there are plenty of other great choices out there like Redline or Mobil 1.
- Oil filter – this is that can-shaped thing that traps dirty crap that ends up in your engine oil like metal shavings, dirt, and half-eaten fried chicken. The regular oil filter for an R32 is the same as one for a 300ZX – look for a Fram PH3682, Bosch 3400, or equivalent. If you go to Auto Boys or PepZone or whatever don't tell them you need a filter for a Nissan Skyline or they'll just tell you to stop sh*tting them. Tell them you need a filter for a Nissan 300ZX instead. Some lucky owners will have a Greddy oil filter relocation kit installed on the car. This makes the job infinitely easier but you need a different oil filter – one for a 1985-1987 Toyota Corolla GTS. Yeah, I know a Toyota filter in a Nissan Skyline – eww!!! So buy a Bosch 3330 or Fram PH4967 or some other brand and don't bother trying to explain to the Toyota dealer why you need one of their filters for your Nissan. There are other brands of relocation kit but I'm afraid you're on your own finding out what filters they use.
- An oil change basin – you can get these cheap at any auto store. The cheapest ones are just a big open plastic container but I prefer one that's enclosed and has a proper drainage hole to make it easier to take the oil oil for disposal. If this is your first time changing oil know that most auto parts stores will let you dump your old oil for recycling at no charge in their waste oil container.
- Some rags, paper towels, or oil absorbent mats
- Some latex or nitrile gloves so you don't ruin your manicure.
- A creeper to lie on is handy but not really a necessity.
- You can reuse the old drain plug but this is a good time to replace it with a new aftermarket magnetic one if you'd like. The magnet helps trap metal particles so it's a good idea and cheap too. If you reuse the old plug you'll still need a new washer so you'll need to get one from a parts store. If you're unsure of the size, take the plug and old washer to a parts store once you get it out. An M14 one (14 is the metric size of the plug in millimeters) usually fits just right.
So, once you have all of that and the car's positioned on jacks or ramps let's get started.
- Start the car and let it idle to warm up the oil so it can flow more freely. Shut it off after five minutes or so– no need to get the engine super hot and make this any harder.
- Get under the front of the car and find the oil pan. It's that big grey basin-shaped thing hanging under your engine. On the driver's side you'll see the drain plug. Grab a 14mm socket and start undoing – just remember righty tightey, lefty loosey, zombie brains are nice and juicy. Err, anyway, don't undo the plug all the way yet! Unscrew it little by little until some oil starts to drip out. Once that happens, put down your socket, don some gloves if you didn't already, and position the basin just under the drain plug – a little bit to the driver's side of the car is good since the oil will arc out a little. With your basin in place undo the drain plug all the way and watch as the old oil streams out.
Here you can see the oil starting to try and escape the oil pan after the plug is slightly unscrewed.
Old oil goes WHEEE!!
- Go play some Minecraft or something while the oil drains out. Or go the parts store and get a new plug washer if you need one.
- Once all the old oil is out, clean off the drain plug with a clean rag (or grab the new one if you have it), make sure the new washer is in place, and then screw it on. Remember not to overtighten or you'll fail the ATNTFIU part of this DIY.
- At this point you can drop the car down off the stands if you're using them.
- This next part will either be stupendously easy or curse-like-a-sailor hard depending on whether you're lucky enough to have obtained a car with a filter relocation kit or not. That's because the stock oil filter location is way down in the engine compartment under the intake plenum (that big cylindrical thing on the driver's side of the engine). In order to get to it you'll either need arms like a mutant contortionist orangutan or a just the right type of filter wrench and a lot of swearing. If you have this problem I've heard your best bet is to grab a wrench that fits on the top of the filter (either the one that looks like a big socket or a triple-jaw type) and use it with a stubby socket handle to undo the blasted thing. If you're lucky like me just use any old properly fitting wrench, undo the filter from where it sits on top and easily accessible then do an evil laugh of superiority. In my case you'll see I cut a hole in an oil absorbent mat just the right size to go around the filter before removal and used that as insurance against any drips.
I wrap all my oil filters in blankets to keep them warm and cozy. That's a joke by the way.
- Once that's done the rest is easy. Grab your new filter and use a finger to wipe a thin film of clean oil on its gasket – this helps ensure a good seal. Screw it on hand tight then twist it another 2/3rd revolution around. Don't wail on it with the filter wrench and risk overtightening it.
Oiling up the new filter's gasket.
- To add new oil, undo the oil filler cap on the top front of the engine – the big black plastic thing with the oil can symbol on it. You may have an aftermarket cap so it may look totally different and have a picture of a penis drawn on it if your car was owned by a weirdo. You can see the cap's location here in this pic:
That black plastic thing beside the "Nissan" on the engine is the oil filler cap.
- Once the cap is undone you can either guesstimate and risk overfilling the engine resulting in armageddon and dogs and cats living in sin or you can grab one of these babies from your local auto parts source and measure out 4 to 4.5 liters (Or 4.9 if you want to live dangerously you adrenaline junkie you):
That thing with the long tube is a measuring funnel for oil...and enemas if you're backed up big time I guess.
- The measuring funnel gives you an idea how much you've put in but to fine tune the amount you want to pull out the dipstick – that thing with the round yellow handle on the side of the engine – and see where the level is at. Add a little at a time and reinsert and remove the dipstick until you've satisfied your car or the oil level is at the full mark on the stick (It's the latter you want to do if you didn't get the joke).
Use a regular funnel for topping up. Cut up an old plastic water bottle if you're cheap.
That yellow circle is the handle for your dipstick.
- Once you've done that, screw the filler cap back on and start up the engine to make sure everything is copacetic. You might see the oil warning light come on briefly but it should turn off after a bit once the new oil gets everywhere. If it does, congrats! You've succeeded in the ATNTFIU part! If it doesn't – you need to consult a mechanic and don't tell ANYONE you read this DIY.
Important disclaimer: Understand that working on your car can be inherently dangerous. This is meant to be a guide only and does not take the place of common sense and proper safety precautions. Only you can ensure your own safety and that of your vehicle. Know your limits and ask for qualified help if you're unsure of something. Every time you act stupid in the garage...God kills a Miata.