PHOTO: Daniel Johnson
The arrival of spring means that it’s time to fire up your farm equipment. But getting your tractor, lawn mower, ATV and other machines ready isn’t as simple as topping off the gas tank and heading into action—there may be annual maintenance tasks to consider, such as changing the oil in the engine.
Fortunately, changing oil is a simple task as long as you have all of the necessary items and tools for the job. Here’s a quick checklist of items to consider before you start.
Changing oil can be a messy process, so it’s critical to have an appropriate pan or bucket for holding the old oil. Choosing a container that will fit underneath the oil drainage valve is the first step (the valve can be located in awkward places, making it difficult to squeeze a container underneath), but even more important is to make sure that the container is large enough to hold all the oil in the engine. You don’t want it to overflow.
2. Oil Rags
When things do get messy, you’ll want a few rags on hand to soak up small spills. Even if you manage to avoid any spills or drips, you’ll still want to have a rag on hand to clean the dipstick so you can accurately measure the oil level in the engine. Just remember that oily rags are a fire hazard—be careful while disposing of them.
Adding oil to your engine can take time, particularly if the oil is cold and sluggish. It can also be tricky if the opening for adding oil is small. Using a funnel will essentially increase the size of the opening and make spills much less likely.
4. Replacement Oil
Before you begin, make sure that you have fresh oil ready to add to the engine. Check the manual of your machine to find out how much oil you’ll need—there may also be advice about which type of oil to use.
It’s almost inevitable that you’ll have to touch some oily items during an oil change, whether it’s the drainage valve, the funnel or a few spilled drops that need wiping up. Wear a pair of gloves, such as disposable plastic gloves, to help keep the oil off your hands.
6. New Oil Filter
Depending on the machine that you’re working with, your instruction manual may advise you to replace the oil filter at the same time that you change the oil. This is a relatively simple job, but you’ll want to plan ahead and purchase a new filter before you begin. Check the manual to find the appropriate model number.
7. Various Tools & Wrenches
It’s always wise to have a few of your tools on hand, particularly if you’re going to replace the oil filter. A large wrench for loosening and tightening the filters will be useful, and a pair of pliers can be handy for all sorts of tasks.