There are only two reasons to change your own oil in the woods: money and the satisfaction of doing something yourself. That said, my van is a year old and has over 40,000 miles on it. Dealerships are slow and charge over $100 for a full-synthetic change. The Transits ship with a synthetic blend oil and are rated for 10,000 miles between changes. I changed over to a full-synthetic on my second change and haven’t looked back. Changing the oil as I do, with full-synthetic oil and a high-mileage oil filter can be done for half the price.. but you’re left to deal with disposing of the old oil, and you’ll always make a mess.
Required Tools and Supplies
I usually include Amazon links, but for oil: your cheapest option is to buy this stuff at Wal-Mart. It’s significantly cheaper. It’d be a crime to link you to Amazon for the filters, too. They’re $5-$10 cheaper at Wal-Mart.
Original Oil: Motorcraft 5W-20 Synthetic Blend
Upgrade: Mobil 1 5W-20 Full Synthetic
Regardless of what you choose, you need to buy 1 5qt jug + 1 quart. Wal-Mart pricing puts this around $35, slightly cheaper for the Motorcraft option.
Original Oil Filter: Motorcraft FL500S
Upgrade: Mobil 1 M1-212A
Basic Socket Set (you’ll need a 3/8″ socket wrench and a 15mm socket)
Oil Filter Wrench (disclosure: i haven’t needed this, but if you can’t get the filter off by hand, you’ll be screwed without it)
Funnel (grab this at ye olde wall-e world while you’re getting oil)
Oil Drain Pan (again, cheapest at Wal-Mart. Don’t get the shitty 7-quart one I have in the image below, get something larger with a spout. Thank me later.)
- Warm the engine up.
Get the van up to temperature and park it for a while. 30-60 minutes is fine, this isn’t rocket science.
- Get your shit together, son.
- Open your oil fill cap to prevent vacuum.
It’s marked with an oil can logo and “5w-20”
- Locate and remove the 15mm drain plug. Loosen and remove, but be ready for the stream of hot lava.
- Grab a Snickers. This will take a while, depending on how warm your engine was.
- Replace the drain plug once the flow stops. Tighten until it stops, then give it a nudge. There’s no need for this to be super tight– it has a gasket. Don’t strip your shit out. Locate the oil filter and spin off. Beware: it’s messy.
- Get the replacement oil filter ready.
- Lube the gasket.
Depending on how well you wiped everything clean, this may or may not be necessary. I take a bit of used oil and lubricate the gasket of the new filter.
- Install the new filter.
The threads should catch and spin on easily. If not, keep trying. Do not force anything – stripping threads here would be an enormous headache.
- Fill ‘er up! I recommend pouring in the 5qt jug and half of the single quart to begin.
- Replace the fill cap, start the engine.
Get it up to temperature, then park on level ground for 15-30 minutes. Check the oil. If the level is lower than the middle of the crosshatching on the dipstick, go ahead and add the other half quart. You’re not always going to drain all 6-quarts and it’s better to be underfilled than overfilled.
- Dispose of your oil properly.
You can take the used oil to any auto parts store or recycling center for free.
- Reset your service indicator. This may vary based on what kind of instrument cluster you have, but the procedure is the same.
Put the key in the “ON” position and hold your brake and gas pedals down until the “oil and wrench” icon starts flashing. Should be 15+ seconds.