Monday, February 28, 2011

The Epic Oil Top Off

Sadly, this is the best picture I have.
(taken through a screen window, March 2007)
I drive a VW New Beetle, and I love it and I try to take care of it. But I have to be honest, this winter has been a killer when it comes to me wanting to do things outside and I've been more than a little lax in the car upkeep department.

Do I put gas in before it reaches half a tank? Usually. Sometimes it's a little under half.
Do I make sure there's windshield wiper fluid? Absolutely!
Scrape the snow off the ENTIRE car? Every time there's snow on the car (TheHusband lets me have the garage so it's not as often as it could be). It's a safety issue for both me and others on the road, but that's an issue for another time.
Check the oil regularly? Umm, not so much, and this is where I get myself into trouble.

According to the mileage since the last oil change, the Beetle is actually due for another oil change, but we just haven't had the time to take it in. Don't freak out on me, it's only 300 miles past due and modern engines using modern synthetic oils can easily go 4000-6000 miles between oil changes (I've done the research, and am not making this up). The Beetle is only at 3300 and will get it's oil changed well before the 4000 mile mark (because the car is 10 years old and has over 100,000 miles, I don't let it go too far over 3000 between oil changes - because I'm cautious). The only issue is the oil light has started to blink when I make left turns (apparently that's when the oil moves away from the sensor), and I don't want to take a chance of completely running out of oil and having the engine seize (whether or not the is the correct outcome of running out of oil is beside the point, I know that if I run out of oil bad things can happen and that is enough knowledge to freak me out).

Anyway, on Friday night TheHusband and I discuss the situation and decide that we would take care of adding more oil on Sunday (yesterday). We usually use his car if we go anywhere on the weekends and Sunday was supposed to be the warmer day of the weekend. This plan totally makes sense, right? Right.

Then we forget about it entirely until TheHusband is making dinner (yummy chicken breast and Caesar salad) on Sunday night and I happen to see a commercial on TV for a natural gas company. My brain goes "hmmm, that rings a bell" and then all heck breaks loose up there as all sorts of synaptic connections get made.

Natural gas = gas (snap!) = car (SNAP!) = oil (SNAP! SNAP! SNAP!)

So I put on my boots & coat and tell TheHusband that I'm going to go take care of adding the oil. He's making dinner and I've done it before, so neither one of us is concerned. I grab a battery powered lantern to take with me, it is getting dark after all and there are no lights in our detached garage, and am on my way. I get the oil and oil funnel out of the trunk, pop the hood, and promptly run into problem number one. The lantern, that I had tested in the house to make sure it worked, decided not to turn on outside. So back to the house I go, grab the second lantern and a flashlight (just in case) and return to the garage. Both the lantern and the flashlight work! Great!

Second problem. I can't get the oil cap off. Grrr. I am not a wimp and should be able to twist that bad boy right off, but after a couple tries still no go.  It's cold outside and I don't want to take my gloves off. My fingers really don't like the cold, especially since the arthritis/spondylitis kicked in a few years ago, but I give in because I also realize I'm going to have to use both hands on this and I don't want to get oil residue all over my favorite gloves. So I take the gloves off and after a couple grunts the darn thing turns! Problem overcome!

Yeah me! Now the rest should be a piece of cake. I get the funnel out. It's a "fancy" one that has a lid, a long clear tube for getting to that awkward spot the car designers put the oil cap, a cap on the end of the clear tube, and a fancy schmancy device that connects the tube to the actual funnel (when "closed" you can fill the funnel with oil then place the tube into the hole for putting the oil in the car, then you "open" it and the oil goes from the funnel to the car!). Again, I've done this before and never had a problem with the funnel, but last night it seemed I was wrestling Grendel* himself. I'll try to give you the short version (takes a deep breath):

-Removed the funnel lid and filled the funnel with oil.
-Attempted to remove the cap from the clear tube (cap should have flipped off, but remained attached to tube), but couldn't do it, so I took the whole cap section off the end of the tube.
-Put tube into correct spot on engine for adding oil, and attempted to turn fancy schmancy device to "open" position, but it wouldn't budge. AT ALL.
-Had bright idea to put the lid back on the funnel and set the funnel on the lid (on the ground) so I could deal with the fancy schmancy device.
-Flipped the capped funnel over and oil promptly begins to leak out.(Seriously! The lid for the funnel was designed so you could store oil in the funnel if you poured to much into it and it LEAKS!!! Very glad I've never tried storing oil in it.)
-Quickly removed entire tube apparatus (including fancy schmancy device) from funnel and pour remaining oil (which was most of it) back into oil container.

*takes another deep breath*

The ever so helpful oil funnel.
-Easily fix fancy schmancy device (it's the blue section in the picture) despite my hands being covered in oil.
-Re-attach entire tube apparatus (in "closed" position), refill funnel, put clear tube in proper spot, "open" the fancy schmancy device and watch as the oil slooooowly empties into engine.
-Notice a kink in the clear tube, carefully wedge funnel so it can't tip over, use pinkie finger to open car door, move front passenger seat, and move tool box from back seat to trunk (at which time I notice that the paper towels that are supposed to be there are decidedly not).
-Remove pliers from tool box, go back to oil funnel and carefully squeeze kink in tube with the pliers.
-Gleefully watch as the oil finally gets to where it's supposed to be going.
-"Clean" up the mess (I put the funnel on a plastic bag in the corner of the garage next to the oil jug and left them there until I have some time to clean them up). Get the hood closed, get the passenger side door closed, get the trunk closed, get the garage door closed all without getting the oil from my hands on everything.
-Get to the screen door and open it by using the tip of my pinkie finger (the only place on my right hand not covered in oil) and the back of my left hand to open the door. Kick the inside door several times to let TheHusband know I need help getting inside.
-Have TheHusband look at me funny while I ask him to turn on the hot water and to squeeze dish soap into my hands. Vigorously wash my hands several times to get the motor oil off.
-Realize I left the lantern turned on in the garage and trek back out (with a roll of paper towels) to retrieve said lantern.

*sigh* And yes, that was the short version. Can you imagine the long version? (no eye rolls from TheHusband please).

After all that, I think next time I'm just going to make the time to take it to Ken (our super awesome mechanic who only lectures me a little about how I should take better care of my car).

*Yes, I'm a literature geek and just referenced Beowulf in a blog post about adding oil to my car. Deal with it. ;)


Nancy Moe said...

Hey, I love the screen picture of the Beetle. It looks very artistic

Dora said...

Thanks Nancy! I'll go with that! =)

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