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A Guide to Changing Oil on a Commercial Vehicle

A Guide to Changing Oil on a Commercial Vehicle

Do you start to hear knocking, rumbling, and even roaring sounds when you’re driving your vehicle? Is the oil change light on your vehicle’s dashboard illuminating? Are you getting a whiff of oil inside the cabin? If you answer yes to all of these questions, then it’s high time to change your vehicle’s engine oil. 

Although all types of vehicles require a regular oil change, there’s no denying that commercial vehicles have more need for it than others. That’s because of the high mileage that they log in daily. The more the vehicle runs, the higher the likelihood of the engine oil getting contaminated. 

Why are oil changes important for commercial vehicles?

Keeping up with regular oil changes helps extend the engine’s life and enhance its overall performance. The engine is composed of moving parts, which tend to overheat without proper lubrication. However, oil can get contaminated with dirt, debris, and dust over time. When this happens, it becomes more challenging for the oil to move through the different engine components. 

But aside from getting contaminated, oil also tends to break down and turn into “sludge” as time goes by. A routine oil change helps remove engine wear particles and sludge and keep the engine at peak condition. It also improves gas mileage, makes your vehicle last longer, and increases its resale value.  

How often should you change engine oil?

Oil changes may be done at more frequent intervals depending on how your fleet is operated. For heavy-duty commercial vehicles, the average for an oil change to be done sits at around 25,000 miles. But if it is regularly maintained, it can go on without an oil change for up to 50,000 miles. 

The same is true when your fleet is equipped with heavy-duty engines and uses cleaner fuels and improved filters. These can even push your vehicle past the 50,000-mile mark, reducing time and money spent on a yearly oil change. 

How to do an oil change?

Performing an oil change is a relatively easy task that you can do yourself. Yes, it can be quite intimidating at first, especially when you consider your commercial vehicle's size, but if you follow the steps to the T, you'll realize that it's not so complicated after all. Here are the steps in changing your engine oil:

1. Check the owner’s manual or under the hood for the engine type, oil capacity, oil type, and filter type. 

The first thing you have to do is make sure you get the right oil and filter type and the exact oil capacity for your specific engine type. Commercial vehicles with big diesel engines often use a lot of oil, and it’s not measured just in quarts like in smaller cars and SUVs but in gallons, and heavy-duty oil filters. So, you have to make sure you have the right amount of oil and the right type of filter before you start to avoid any delay. 

2. Gather the needed tools and materials. 

Before you tinker with your vehicle, you need to gather all the materials and tools necessary for the job. This will save you a lot of time since you don’t have to look for any tool or material while you are working. The main tools and materials you will need include the following:

  • A large drain pan or oil drum to put that old oil in
  • A regular or big wrench to undo the oil drain plug
  • An oil filter wrench that’s a good match for your oil filter type
  • A funnel to easily fill the new oil in
  • Replacement oil filter and oil that meets manufacturer requirements
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves, a pair of coveralls, etc. 

Aside from those mentioned above, you may also consider these materials depending on the situation:

  • Rags when you need to wipe your hands or other surfaces
  • Jack and jack stands to raise and support your truck
  • Mechanics creeper so you can get underneath that big truck
  • Replacement oil drain plug washer

Once you have gathered all these, then you can get started. 

3. Prepare your vehicle and yourself to ensure your safety. 

While performing an oil change is pretty straightforward, it still comes with risks. To ensure your safety, you must prepare not only your vehicle but also yourself for the job. If you have just used your vehicle for a long drive, then let the engine cool down for a few hours. But if you haven’t, you must let your truck run for several minutes to get the oil warm. Once done, make sure your emergency brake is set and the keys are out as safety precautions. 

As for your own safety, this is where you’d need that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). You may wear a pair of coveralls to keep that oil off your clothes, gloves to keep your hands grime-free, and safety glasses to protect your eyes. 

4. Drain the old engine oil and remove the old oil filter. 

Flushing out the old engine oil is probably the most challenging part of this DIY job. Before you remove the oil drain plug, see to it that the drain pan or oil drum is well-positioned underneath. Once done, use the regular wrench to remove the plug, and let the oil drain entirely. Afterward, remove the oil filter. But make sure the drain pan is positioned under the oil filter before you remove it because the oil will come out of that too. Then, let the remaining oil flow into the drain pan. 

5. Install the new oil filter and put the oil drain plug back in. 

Grab the replacement oil filter and apply a thin coating of oil around its rim to ensure a proper seal. Then, position the filter and hand tighten it. Use the oil filter wrench to finish the job off, and put the oil drain plug back in. 

6. Add the new oil. 

Remove the oil filler cap and position the funnel into the opening to add the new oil. Make sure you pour the right amount of oil as indicated in the manual. If you are not sure about this, you can always check the level by using the dipstick. Then, replace the oil cap, and close the hood of your truck.

7. Do a final check and document the oil change. 

Start your vehicle and let it run for a few minutes to check for oil pressure. Then, check under the vehicle if there are any leaks. If none, turn off the vehicle and document the oil change by recording the mileage on your odometer. That way, you will know when to perform the next oil change. 

Changing the oil of your commercial vehicle is something that you should not overlook or choose to delay because it affects the overall performance of not only the engine but also the entire vehicle. When it’s time to perform an oil change, you can always count on FinditParts to supply you with the best materials and tools. We are your one-stop shop for all your heavy duty truck and trailer parts needs.