I successfully changed the oil in my car yesterday for the first time in my life. Granted, I had help from Gary, my husband. Per usual, I’m taking full credit and I have a bit of residual oil staining a couple of nails as proof. I decided to change my car’s oil in a state of austerity thinking along with raw stubbornness.
I drive a compact car. I am NOT compact. Fortunately we do have a couple of ramps to elevate the front of the car. I lined them up, eyeballing the width of the front tires while standing 10-15 feet away. I go to the driver’s seat and Gary yells, “No! Let me help you.” He grabs the ramps tucking and aligning each with a tire. “Just Drive and I’ll tell you when,” he instructs. I put her in gear and head forward just over and past the ramp on the right, lodging it beneath the car. Dislodge, realign, more coaching as Gary stands in front of the car.
Let me remind you, Gary walks (aka shuffles)like he’s eighty, after multiple pelvic and vertebral fractures due to a “horsing around” incident 2 years ago. I sit behind the wheel; my hand poised on the stick shift, saying a little prayer for his safety as I proceed forward, roll back, again and repeat until the third time did the trick (The back and forth, swing set connection plays out over and over for me) I imagine an onlooker could only assume we were rehearsing for a circus act.
My plan to consult the owner’s manual was overridden by Gary. To his credit he knew what supplies and tools were needed. He did the initial exploration released the oil filter and nasty old oil, missing the collection receptacle by an inch. He was finished. It was my turn to take the dive.
Downward dog to knees, rotate to back, shimmy like a walrus or manatee, I imagine my feet like flailing pedal flippers. I wore disposable gloves certain I could keep reasonably clean. I slide the oil receptacle away from my head pushing upward, as I retracted that arm my glove brushed along the pavement gathering a pool of grimy oil inside. I’d been slimed!
I remained resolute. “Hand me the filter,” I commanded. I daubed the screw, put the female part against it and applied my finger finesse like a pianist tickling the slippery cylinder to the right. Pieces and parts would not join and thread. Left, left, left, and then right, right, right. Frustration was growing. Oil was spreading over both gloves and the filter. The screw was at an angle of 15-30 degrees requiring my big man hands to wedge between car parts I was about to rearrange. Working against gravity for a prolonged period is hard. The bigger challenge was the perpetual crunch of being flat on my back lifting my head in order to see the target.
My coach left. Quiet and a short rest with deep breathing helped. Taking it slow and calm I got it threaded and tightened the filter into place. Relieved and proud, capping the release valve was a breeze. I shimmied from beneath the car and took a few minutes to straighten out. Gary was telling me good job and then said, “You’ve got a couple of blotches of grease in your hair.” “Where? How big? ”, I asked. He assured me they were tiny.