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Old 06-11-2005, 03:38 PM   #1
perret318
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Default A complete n00b's guide to changing the oil in your WRX (with pics!)

There are other helpful oil change threads out there (such as the scoobymods guide by peaty and Unabomber's Oil FAQ, both of which are very worth reading and helped me out in doing this myself for the first time. This thread is for total mechanic n00bs (like myself) with WRX's (since there are a lot of us out there). I figure since a simple oil/filter change is probably the first bit of tinkering a greenhorn like me will do with their car, a step-by-step illustrated guide would be a good introduction. The pictures were taken during my very first attempt at changing the oil in my WRX. So here goes...

What you'll need:
- torque wrench
- 12mm socket for the bolts on the plastic undercarriage shield
- 17mm socket for the drain plug on the oil pan
- If you have the optional performance gauge pack with an oil temperator sensor, you'll need a 27mm open-end (not box) wrench for the drain plug
- Flathead screwdriver for the pins on the plastic undercarriage shield
- If your last oil change was performed at a dealership or :shudder: Jiffy Lube, then a breaker bar and an oil filter wrench will be helpful for getting the drain plug out and filter off. Here are mine:

- Ramps are helpful for getting under the car. I got mine from PepBoys -- they look like this:

- Oil drain pan for catching the old oil -- I got mine from autozone -- it looks like this:

- New oil filter (I used a Purolator PureOne PL14612 in this writeup. The OEM filter's part number is 15208AA100 for turbo models. See the afore-mentioned threads for other filters that will work as well)
- New oil -- spec for the WRX is 4.8 US quarts. See your user's manual and the afore-mentioned threads for which type you should use. Since I'm at 28K and the summers are pretty brutal over here, I'm using Mobil 1 Synthetic 10w30. If it's cold where you are, you may want to go with something thinner.
- New crush washer for the drain plug
- or -
- Fumoto oil drain valve (which comes with a fiberglass washer, and incidentally gets installed in this write-up). You'll also need a 3/4" crescent wrench for the fumoto valve install.


Procedure:

NOTE: The oil will flow easier if the engine is warm. Also, warm oil tends to hold particulates in suspension better than cold oil, rather than letting it settle to the bottom of the drain pan. So before you start, you may want to take a short drive to get the engine up to operating temperature before changing the oil.

First thing, get the front of the car up on the ramps. This isn't absolutely necessary, especially if you've done this before and know where everything is (if so, why are you reading this? ), but it does make things easier. Make sure the wheels are centered on the ramps -- having a 3000-pound hunk of metal crash down on you is a bad thing.


NOTE: There is some debate on whether putting only the front end of the car up on ramps will prevent all of the oil from draining from the oil pan. It appears that the shape of the oil pan and the location of the drain plug will allow all of the oil to drain even if it's up on ramps, but if you'd like to be completely on the safe side, you can skip the ramps. You can get to everything you need under the car without the ramps.

Next, look under the car. If you have a MY2002 or MY2003, then the drain plug and filter will be fairly accessible. However, if you have a MY2004 or later (as I do), it's a lot easier if you remove the big plastic splash guard from under the engine. Some have suggested cutting a hole in it around the filter to avoid having to take it off, but I wasn't comfortable doing that. I mean, it's there for a reason, right? So let's get it off. Here's a picture of what it looks like, with the locations of the bolts and pins you'll need to undo. Note that the section in the upper-right that's missing on mine (see the dotted lines) will most likely not be missing on yours. Don't know how it got that way, but I guess some service guy at some point decided to do that to make his life easier (even though it's not even cut on the correct side...) Unscrew the five bolts and pop the four plastic pins off. To get the pins off, use a flat-head screwdriver and pop the center up, then pull the whole thing out.


After that's off and out of the way, now it gets fun. Take a look under there and locate the oil filter and the drain plug. It should look something like this:

NOTES:
- Depending on which type of filter was used, the filter may look different than shown -- OEM filters are either white or black
- 2007 (and 2006, I believe) models have the drain plug on the other side (i.e., the driver's side) of the oil pan

Now set your oil drain pan under the filter and drain plug -- it's about to get messy. In fact, it's not a bad idea to spread some newspaper around the drain pan just in case.

First, unscrew the filter. You should be able to unscrew it by hand. If not, you may need a filter wrench to get it off. NOTE: if the engine is hot, be careful about touching the exhaust manifold (the big pipe that wraps around the front and side of the filter.) A decent amount of oil will drain from the filter socket. Also, when you remove the filter, make sure the old gasket comes off with it. Accidentally "double-gasketing", or installing a new filter w/gasket on top of the old gasket, will result in a bad leak.

NOTE: If you have the optional factory gauge pod with the oil temperature gauge, the sensor probe for that gauge is integrated into a special drain plug that replaces the original one. This plug requires a 27mm open-end (not box) wrench to remove. This isn't something you're likely to have in your toolbox already so be sure to get one before changing your oil. Don't try using vice grips or an adjustable wrench on this, you may round off the edges and a new plug/probe assembly is expensive.

If you don't have the oil temp sensor, remove the drain plug using a 17mm socket. If this is the first time that the car's oil is being changed, the drain plug may be very tough to remove. In this case, you may need a breaker bar to get the bolt loose. In any case, be careful not to strip the bolt. Also, make sure that the crush washer on the drain plug comes off. It seems to be painted on from the factory, so make sure that you get it off at this point. Otherwise, if you put a new on on top of it, it may cause a leak. Once the drain plug is loose, let the oil start to drain into the drain pan. At this point, you can pop the hood and remove the cap to the oil fill tube. This will help the oil come out a bit faster. Be careful, though, because the oil will come out at an angle, not straight down.


While it's draining, grab your new filter and prep it. Fill it with new oil (pour some in, let it soak in, then pour in some more, repeat ad nauseum), and lube the gasket on the top. You'll be surprised how much oil you can get in the filter before you put it on.


After the oil has drained out, wipe off the surface of the filter landing, and screw the new filter on. Don't go nuts tightening it -- do it by hand and make it snug, but don't over-tighten it or you'll strip the threads or crush the top of the filter.

Next, either put the drain plug back in with a new crush washer, torqued to 33 ft-lbs, or put in the fumoto valve (which is what I have). If you're installing a fumoto valve, use a 3/4" crescent wrench to screw it in. Here's what it'll look like:


Now, pour in the new oil in the oil fill tube (4.8 US quarts is the full spec), and replace the cap. Start up the car (the oil light may go on briefly and go out) and let it idle for a few seconds or so, then shut it off. Check under the car for any leaks.

Put the undercarriage shield back on, and you're done! You can take the old oil to the nearest AutoZone, Jiffy Lube, etc. to be disposed of properly.



I hope this guide has been helpful. If you have any comments/corrections, please let me know!

Paul
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Last edited by perret318; 01-30-2007 at 07:52 PM.
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Old 06-11-2005, 03:54 PM   #2
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Nice write up, I'll add it to my FAQ.
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Old 06-11-2005, 03:55 PM   #3
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I've never used ramps once in 5 yrs of owning Subaru's. Everything is right up front. I think the hardest part of the oil changing is taking the splash shield off. Good write up though.
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Old 06-11-2005, 03:55 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unabomber
Nice write up, I'll add it to my FAQ.
Sweet! Thanks!
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Old 06-11-2005, 04:42 PM   #5
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maybe 03's are different but ive never had to take the splash guard off, nice write up, this will definately help anyone who has never done it before
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Old 06-11-2005, 05:32 PM   #6
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Some Bewares:

If your Impreza has never had its oil changed before (i.e. you're at about 3K miles), you may need a breaker bar or impact wrench to get the oil drain plug loose. The gorilla Subaru hired in Japan to install them is VERY strong.

When you actually do remove the plug, oil flows out at a VERY rapid rate at first, and not straight down, either. Depending on what you're using to catch the draining oil, you may get splashes. You might want to delay removing the oil filler cap in the engine bay until the oil's started flowing to reduce this effect and you might want to spread some newspaper or something on the ground around the oil drain pan you're using to catch the oil in case of splashes. At least for your first attempt.
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Old 06-11-2005, 06:12 PM   #7
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you want the car level when draining the oil - putting two wheels on ramps isn't a good idea (plus you can reach everything without doing that, anyway) - if you are going to lift the car for an oil change, lift all 4 corners and put them on jack stands.
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Old 06-11-2005, 08:54 PM   #8
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Another thing to watch for with your first oil change is the factory-installed drain-plug crush-washer is oftentimes "stuck" to the drain-plug with paint. I had to gently pry mine off with a screwdriver. I've heard of some folks installing a second crush-washer on the drain-plug (they didn't see the painted-on factory crush-washer), and ended up with a small oil leak.
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Old 06-12-2005, 12:21 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrD
you want the car level when draining the oil - putting two wheels on ramps isn't a good idea (plus you can reach everything without doing that, anyway) - if you are going to lift the car for an oil change, lift all 4 corners and put them on jack stands.
If you look at the oil pan they've taken that into account so you can do it either way. Look how far back the drain plug is on the oil pan and the shape of the pan...gotta love Subaru engineering even when it comes to the little stuff.

I use the same ramps myself because it's much more comfortable to have some working space and I can have a good look around for any potential problems.
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Old 06-12-2005, 12:24 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon [in CT]
If your Impreza has never had its oil changed before (i.e. you're at about 3K miles), you may need a breaker bar or impact wrench to get the oil drain plug loose. The gorilla Subaru hired in Japan to install them is VERY strong.
Yeah, the same gorilla who puts on the rear diff plugs.
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Old 06-12-2005, 07:41 AM   #11
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A couple of notes-
On the 02-03's, it is NOT necessary to remove the shield, the filter is fully accessible. As long as the car isn't lowered you don't even need ramps unless you are too *ahem* large to fit under there.
When you remove the old filter, be sure the old gasket comes off with it. Accidentally "double-gasketing", or installing a new filter w/gasket on top of the old gasket, will result in a bad leak at the filter and can cause you to lose all your oil.
If you have the optional factory gauge pod with the oil temperature gauge, the sensor probe for that gauge is integrated into a special drain plug that replaces the original one. This plug requires a 27mm open-end (not box) wrench to remove, this isn't something you're likely to have in your toolbox already so be sure to get one before changing your oil. Don't try using vice grips or an adjustable wrench on this, you may round off the edges and a new plug/probe assembly is expensive.
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Old 06-12-2005, 10:13 AM   #12
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Hot or warm oil will hold more material in suspension. When you let the oil cool, the material settles out to the bottom of the pan. Just starting the car and letting it warm up may not be enough to get it into suspension again. Its always best to change the oil after the car has been driven.

With a Fumoto valve, this is very easy. Even if you are wearing nice clothes after driving home from work, you can reach under there and open the valve. Let it drain while you change clothes and you're all set.
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Old 06-12-2005, 11:04 AM   #13
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Thanks for the comments, everyone! I've incorporated them all into the guide.
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Old 06-12-2005, 11:36 PM   #14
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Nice write-up! I like to just jack up the front left and put it on a stand. It drains better and I need to jack it up to rotate the tires anyway. I also put in a full 5 qts. It's simpler and gives a little safety margin for leaks/burning.
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Old 06-13-2005, 11:54 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Wevrick
Nice write-up! I like to just jack up the front left and put it on a stand. It drains better and I need to jack it up to rotate the tires anyway. I also put in a full 5 qts. It's simpler and gives a little safety margin for leaks/burning.
I dump the full 5 qts. in too. Its only .2 more qts. its not going to hurt anything. Good idea of jacking up the left side (drivers side) to help it drain. I'll have to try that.
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Old 06-15-2005, 07:43 PM   #16
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Sweet write up. The pictures are great. Do you know if you can pick up that fumoto valve at someplace like autozone, or it something you have to order?

Thanks,
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Old 06-15-2005, 08:09 PM   #17
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Good writeup, the noobs will find this useful.

I also agree with the fact that you should have your car fully lifted on all four corners, but with ramps you get an added degree of safety.

And I think Fumoto drain valves stick too far into the oil pan to get ALL The oil and metal particles out, but that's just my opinion.
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Old 06-15-2005, 11:23 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by makanai
Sweet write up. The pictures are great. Do you know if you can pick up that fumoto valve at someplace like autozone, or it something you have to order?

Thanks,
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here

http://www.fumotovalve.com/
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Old 06-16-2005, 04:40 PM   #19
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Pretty sweet write up
I suck at the mechanics (slowly understanding more though), and this helped me. Printed it out, and will be changing the oil this weekend.

My only question is this, since it's my first time changing the oil since I've had the car:
is there anyway to tell if the previous owner used sythenic or dino? Will the dino be a lot thicker and blacker?

stupid question, but hell, better safe than sorry. Never used synthetic, so not sure what it's like, so better ask a question than be sorry
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Old 06-16-2005, 04:59 PM   #20
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Quote:
Pretty sweet write up
I suck at the mechanics (slowly understanding more though), and this helped me. Printed it out, and will be changing the oil this weekend.

My only question is this, since it's my first time changing the oil since I've had the car:
is there anyway to tell if the previous owner used sythenic or dino? Will the dino be a lot thicker and blacker?

stupid question, but hell, better safe than sorry. Never used synthetic, so not sure what it's like, so better ask a question than be sorry
as far as i know, there's no way to tell just by watching it drain out the pain.

although synthetic is more slippery than dino, I can't tell the difference if I just looked at it.
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Old 06-16-2005, 05:27 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iwanbo
Pretty sweet write up
I suck at the mechanics (slowly understanding more though), and this helped me. Printed it out, and will be changing the oil this weekend.

My only question is this, since it's my first time changing the oil since I've had the car:
is there anyway to tell if the previous owner used sythenic or dino? Will the dino be a lot thicker and blacker?

stupid question, but hell, better safe than sorry. Never used synthetic, so not sure what it's like, so better ask a question than be sorry
What mileage are you at? The general rule I've heard is that it's safe to switch after 10K. Some have switched before that, some after (I was using a blend up to this point). As for how to tell what was in there before, yeah I don't think you can really do it just by looking at it. Could you contact the previous owner and ask perhaps?
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Old 06-16-2005, 09:42 PM   #22
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I'm at 48k, a little more than 3k since I got the car.
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Old 06-17-2005, 07:54 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eltrouble
And I think Fumoto drain valves stick too far into the oil pan to get ALL The oil and metal particles out, but that's just my opinion.
I disagree, but hey, we're all entitled to our opinion.
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Old 06-17-2005, 10:31 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iwanbo
I'm at 48k, a little more than 3k since I got the car.
So you're definitely good to go with full synth. I don't know of anyone having any issues simply because of the switch, so I don't know that you'll really need to know what the previous owner put in it. Anyone else know differently?
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Old 06-17-2005, 10:34 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndyH
I disagree, but hey, we're all entitled to our opinion.
There's a post on scoobymods about putting a notch in the side of the fumoto to allow oil in the bottom of the pan to leak out, if it is in fact true that the valve sticks up too far into the oil pan. I think they just used a metal file to file it down three threads or so.

edit: Here's the thread I was mentioning: http://www.scoobymods.com/forums/sho...=&threadid=169
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