Today was a day off from work, and days off from work usually are days where I can attempt to work on one of my own projects. My trusty Sidekick needed an oil change, and I had already picked up all the needed supplies for such a change sometime earlier last week, so I was all set. After a slow start to the morning, a coffee, and a couple donuts, I slipped into my jumpsuit and got to work.
It was raining today, as Autumn has officially arrived in Washington, so I pulled Suzi’s hood into the garage so that I could stay mostly dry during the process. Draining the oil pan went smoothly. I didn’t spill a drop on the garage floor and in no time the pan was empty, so I moved on to the oil filter. The oil filter was quite the separate matter though. For some reason, I’ve always had trouble getting oil filters off the cars I work on. But Suzi’s always give me particular trouble. It doesn’t help, though, that the filter is in this tiny little empty space which hasn’t enough room to fry a cat. Thankfully, my dad has this oil-filter wrench which, in most cases, works splendidly at loosening up particularly tough filters. But I have this problem where I never really know which way to twist the darn thing. And after getting elbow grease all over everything, I realized, much too late mind you, that I had only succeeded in tightening the filter a couple quarter turns more, which made it only a couple million times more impossible to get the filter to release its hold. I yanked and I pulled, I pulled and I yanked. At some point yesterday I jammed my thumb, and every time I lost my hold and bashed my thumb against something hard It’d hurt like nothing else. I kept trying the loosen the thing just growing angrier as my thumb grew more and more sore. Then I lost my temper and punched my tires. I worked a sweat up and down, to the point where I had to take off my jacket and roll up my sleeves. But that filter was on good and tight and wasn’t about to let go.
As I sat and cursed at the ratty thing my brother sauntered into the garage to check on me. I’d been out there for a couple hours at this point and he was wondering what the hold up was. I’d changed the oil in my Sidekick a multitude of times (I used to drive just under a hundred miles a day and was doing oil changes at the end of just about every month.) and I had the process down pat by now. I cursed at the filter a couple more times before turning to him with a sour face and explaining what the trouble was. He shrugged and asked if he could try. Of course he could! Sure, I usually like to figure out my problems on my own, but when I’m having a lot of trouble with something, sometimes it takes passing the buck to whoever’s unfortunate enough to walk by at the time to make me feel a bit better.
So my brother gave the oil-filter wrench a try. No dice. I handed him a big, ol’ pair of channel-locks. Nothin’. Then I pulled out a biggest, baddest monkey-wrench I could find and he tried tightening that sucker down on the oil filter. And even though he swore he saw the filter budge a bit every couple tries, to me it only looked like we had succeeded in uglifying that oil filter until it looked like it had been in the middle of two head-on collisions, a T-bone crash, three side-swipes, and a rear-ending. It had dents and scratches like nothing else. But since my brother was the one breaking the sweat and not me, I rolled my sleeves back down and pulled my jacket on again. Then I threatened that I’d spend the money I was going to use on his Christmas gift on a new tool for getting this ridiculous oil filter off and he redoubled his efforts. Just about all my morning and part of my afternoon had gotten sucked into this usually simple task and I was getting desperate. But the filter still didn’t want to budge.
Finally, I told him to give me another try at it, and I slid under the car with the filter wrench. It first it seemed like things were going to go as they had before, but then I felt the filter twist just a tiny bit. I returned the wrench to starting point and tried again, this time putting a little extra effort into it, and again I felt the filter budge just a bit. With wild excitement, I wrenched on the filter a couple more times, rewarded by several squeaks and much progress. With only a couple more turns I was able to unscrew the awful filter with my hands and then it was off. I leapt up from under the car, embracing my brother and shaking his hands in appreciation. Sure, I’d gotten the filter off. But I was certain that he had loosened it up for me. He went back inside to clean himself up while I installed the new filter and filled up Suzi’s oil reserves. All that went as smoothly as usual, and my Sidekick was ready to rumble.
Moral to the story? I guess think really hard about which way the oil filter needs to turn before you try loosening it. And make sure you have a sibling or a friend (Or, even better; both…) within close proximity to pass your menial labor on to should you get aggravated.