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Old 08-17-2003, 01:29 PM   #1
Charlie
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Default some bonehead questions about subaru oil change procedure

My wife usually has the routine service done on her car by a local mechanic, but yesterday I noticed that she has gone a bit over (~500 miles) the recomended interval. So I want to change the oil for her myself today since I don't see being able to carpool with her this week as would be required if we drop it off to have it done.

On my cars I've pretty much always changed my own oil and with my latest ride I notice that the maker (vw) recommends that you change the washer around the oil plug whenever you change the oil. Since they sell the plug and the washer as in integrated unit, I usually just replace the whole deal each time (I put it in a plastic ziplock baggie with the o-ring from the filter and staple it to my oil and filter receipts and file it as evidence the service was done if I ever need that...).

So I'm wondering if people normally change the oil plug and/or the washer around the plug on subarus when you change your oil. It seemed to me liek a strange tihng from vw, but thought I'd check to see what subaru recommends. If you don't replace any of that stuff... have you seen any issues with leaks?

Also... I'll could do it by feel but if anyone knows the recomended torque for the oil plug that would be great.

Oh... her car is an 01 forester, but I figure the maker's guidelines would be the same for the wrx and forester...

One final thing... I could avoid a lot of these dumb questions if I just bought the service manual for her car. Anyone know of a good place to get one and what that woudl cost roughly?

Thanks in advance !

Charlie
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Old 08-17-2003, 01:55 PM   #2
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For avoiding headaches, just change the crush washer for the drain plug everytime you do an oil change. It's < $1 piece and if it leaks on you when you re-use the old one, you'd be PO'd. Flat side of the washer goes against the drain plug, and make sure the old one doesn't stay on the drain plug. When you tighten it, you can feel the soft metal of the washer get crushed to seal against the drain pan. Just tighten it as much as you can with your socket wrench. Don't yank on the thing to get it to get an extra quarter turn or something hard like that.
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Old 08-17-2003, 02:03 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ken
For avoiding headaches, just change the crush washer for the drain plug everytime you do an oil change. It's < $1 piece and if it leaks on you when you re-use the old one, you'd be PO'd. Flat side of the washer goes against the drain plug, and make sure the old one doesn't stay on the drain plug. When you tighten it, you can feel the soft metal of the washer get crushed to seal against the drain pan. Just tighten it as much as you can with your socket wrench. Don't yank on the thing to get it to get an extra quarter turn or something hard like that.

Thanks. Any idea what size the crush ring is? I was hoping to do this today so I wouldn't be able to get one from the subaru dealer and if I get one from the auto parts store they're probably not able to look up the diameter for me. I could pull it off and bring it with me but the wife is out with the car at the moment and was hopig to do this all in one trip if possible.

Charlie
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Old 08-17-2003, 09:06 PM   #4
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The I.D. of the washer measures .797" or 20.24mm.

Just reuse the one you have. Don't worry about it, just change it next time.

I have 17k and six oil changes on my original washer. No problems. I reuse the washer alot on my Camry too.
I don't even use washers on my 81 Scirocco or 80 Toy PU. I don't think they used them back then.
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Old 08-18-2003, 12:12 AM   #5
Mike Wevrick
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Default Re: some bonehead questions about subaru oil change procedure

Quote:
Originally posted by Charlie

So I'm wondering if people normally change the oil plug and/or the washer around the plug on subarus when you change your oil.

If you don't replace any of that stuff... have you seen any issues with leaks?

Also... I'll could do it by feel but if anyone knows the recomended torque for the oil plug that would be great.
yes (washer, not plug)

no, I've reused crush washers lots of times with no leaks

beats me; just tighten it by feel and check it later for leaks
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Old 08-18-2003, 12:51 AM   #6
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Default Re: some bonehead questions about subaru oil change procedure

Quote:
Originally posted by Charlie
Also... I'll could do it by feel but if anyone knows the recomended torque for the oil plug that would be great.
Dunno about the Forester, but for the Impreza it's 33 ft-lbs. Can't imagine it would vary too much from model to model.
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Old 08-18-2003, 12:53 AM   #7
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Default Re: some bonehead questions about subaru oil change procedure

Quote:
Originally posted by Charlie
One final thing... I could avoid a lot of these dumb questions if I just bought the service manual for her car. Anyone know of a good place to get one and what that woudl cost roughly?
http://techinfo.subaru.com

$20 gets you a 72 hour window during which you can download the entire manual in PDF form, or the specific parts you are interested in (might as well get the whole thing though).
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Old 08-18-2003, 01:14 AM   #8
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i paid 13.50 for my manual
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Old 08-18-2003, 05:20 PM   #9
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I paid >$200 for all ten or so volumes of my manual (on paper).

As for the crush washer, it's not just a disk of soft metal as with most cars, rather it has a "C"-shaped cross section, and tightening the bolt compresses the "C" so it becomes more like a "c". I would suspect that this design, besides being unique to Subaru and not available in your parts store, makes it also less reuseable. When I buy my Subaru oil filters, they throw in a free crush washer for each.
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Old 08-18-2003, 05:23 PM   #10
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Charlie, It's your choice whether or not you want to change the crush washer, but I think crush washers are cheap insurance. Just buy a dozen or so @ a time and keep them handy.

btw, I think some folks miss the point of the crush washer's actual job. It's used to make sure you don't over-tighten the drain plug and muck up the threads in the pan. It also helps ensure the plug doesn't slacken between changes. These washers only "crush" once. Once removed, they're no longer able to perform their intended purpose. I would not only use a new crush washer every time, I would also make sure to torque the plug properly.

It's great to save a few bucks doing it yourself, but I don't see why anyone take short cuts by not replacing the washer or properly torquing the plug. The time/price savings isn't worth the risk in my opinion.

- Kean
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Old 08-18-2003, 08:51 PM   #11
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Hey guys thanks for the tips. I actually never got around to the oil change yesterday so.... now that the dealer's open I just stopped by subaru today at lunch and got a couple washers and a couple filters to save the trip next time.

I think I will check out the online thing where you can download the manual in pdf format. For my vw I have it in soft form also and that works out well (has a great search feature and is well structured so I can easily find what I'm looking for...).

Thanks !

Charlie
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Old 08-18-2003, 09:54 PM   #12
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Fumoto. No need to ever loosen it again.

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Old 08-19-2003, 04:02 PM   #13
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OK so I did the oil change last night. New crush washer and subaru filter and mobil 1 oil. Thanks again for all the tips.

Also pulled a sample of the old (dino) oil and mailed it to a lab this morning for analysis (looking to see what kind of shape the old oil was in when it was taken out since it went a bit over the recommended interval - probably fine but also curious to see if they find any other goodies in there like antifreeze or gas or other contaminants higher than normal while the drivetran is still under warranty... ).

Also rotated the tires and that took a bit of time as I'd never jacked her car up before so wanted to be super careful to make sure I put the jack in a proper lcoation so as not to cause any damage.

Checked brake pad wear while I had the wheels off and noticed that the fronts were in better shape than the back by a little bit (roughly a sixteenth...). Still, that seemed strange to me. Wondered if others had seen that.

Also... man the place she has been taking her car... they had the oil plug crrrrrrrANKED on there. I didn't measure the torque to get it out but it seemed excessive. And they had no crush ring in there.

Shortly after I realize how tightly they have this thing cranked on there, and I'm searching for the crush ring that turned out to not be there... the wife pops out into the garage... apparently to remind me that I've not touched her car so far and that this is her car after all...

wife: hey when they change my oil they don't just change my oil you know... they do a multi-point inspection... blah blah blah I hope you're not gonna let me run out of windshield washer fluid when I need it because that's unsafe and blah blah and blah... and do you actually have any washer fluid if I need it?

me: uh-huh.

wife: well... are you qualified to do a multi-point inspection? And are you going to check the brake fluid and ... what about the coolant and ... blah blah ... etc..

me: I'm pretty sure I'm qualified to give you a good spankin here pretty soon if you keep this up...

wife: *closes door and goes back in the house*

sheeeeshh...

Anyway... thanks again for all the tips!

Charlie

Last edited by Charlie; 08-19-2003 at 05:42 PM.
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Old 08-25-2003, 02:54 PM   #14
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Just curious on where you sent in your oil to get it tested and also how much?
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Old 08-26-2003, 07:55 AM   #15
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I sent it to a place called Blackstone labs. Very painless deal. It's like $20 for a normal analysis, and an extra $10 if you want them to measure the TBN, which tells you whether the oil had any additional life left in it when you took it out of the car. I guess some people use the TBN as a way to tell if they can run longer oil change intervals.

In my case I just wanted to see how this batch of oil was doing since it inadvertantly went about 1k miles over the planned interval (which was 3k ... so the stuff went 4k and of course it was fine). So I sprang the extra $10 for the TBN report as well. TBN= Total Base Number. It bascially tells you if there is still active additive left in the oil at the time you drained it.

Really though, most of the info I wanted was included in the $20 report. The link to the place is:

http://www.blackstone-labs.com/

They'll send you a free sample collection kit that you can use to send in your oil sample by mail, which cost something like $1.50 in postage.

If I can figure out a way to do it that's clear, I'll post a summary of the results in a seperate thread in this forum. It was just about a week from the time I mailed them the sample to the day I got the report back. I got mine via e-mail. If you get a paper copy via snail mail, figure another couple days for that I guess.

Charlie
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Old 08-26-2003, 01:04 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by Charlie
wife: well... are you qualified to do a multi-point inspection? And are you going to check the brake fluid and ... what about the coolant and ... blah blah ... etc..

me: I'm pretty sure I'm qualified to give you a good spankin here pretty soon if you keep this up...



The multi-point inspection you do is likely much more thorough than the shops!

FYI - I have found it is not necessary for me to jack the car up to do an oil change, probably even less necessary in a Forester given the extra ground clearance. I do, however, jack the car up every other oil change to rotate the tires.
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Old 08-26-2003, 02:41 PM   #17
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Many moons ago I used to work for a medical delivery service where I maintained a fleet of imports (all kinds). Before I came on the company used an oil change service to do the fleet's oil. I'll tell you what I learned from that.

These oil change companies will torque the plug down so tight so as to destroy the washer. Then, when the washer finally falls off they will not replace it but will just return the plug and tighten it even more to stop it from leaking. They'll keep doing this until the plug strips and then sell you some universal plug that cuts its own threads and has its own washer. There'll come a time when even this plug stops working and then they'll say you have the change the pan. Finally, they have a tendency to use an adjustable wrench to tighten or remove the plug. The reason they gave was that it was convenient but the actual reason was to try and round out the hex to render the plug useless.

Now, I noticed that almost every car that was a year old had this replacement plug and every car less than a year old either still had the original crush washer on it but looked like hell and the plug was as tight as holy hell or the washer was gone and the plug was tighter than holy hell.

Looking at the maintenance files kept at the fleet office I noted that every car (except the new ones) had purchased the replacement plug and half the old cars had new pans. No one in the fleet noticed this but everyone noticed that the cars almost always leaked oil from the drian plug.

This is why I do all my oil changes. I fill the new filter with oil before I install it and check everything down there before I drop the car.
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Old 08-26-2003, 09:36 PM   #18
Charlie
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Quote:
Originally posted by Stanley



FYI - I have found it is not necessary for me to jack the car up to do an oil change, probably even less necessary in a Forester given the extra ground clearance. I do, however, jack the car up every other oil change to rotate the tires.
Yep. I only jacked it up to rotate the tires. Thanks.

Charlie
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Old 08-29-2003, 06:56 AM   #19
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</can't resist>
Perhaps you should have offered your wife a multi-point inspection instead of a spanking...
<resist off/>
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Old 08-29-2003, 02:39 PM   #20
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You could have topped off her fluids while you where at it
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Old 08-30-2003, 11:19 AM   #21
Charlie
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Quote:
Originally posted by ciper


You could have topped off her fluids while you where at it
Good point. Now I have a project for today

Charlie
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