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maintaining your vw

Maintaining Your VW

Volkswagen is an elite, German car brand and for many VW owners, they’re more than a car, they’re an investment. To keep your car in tip top condition, it’s really important you’re maintaining your VW properly. We’re not just talking about getting your Volkswagen serviced regularly either, although that is really important. We’re talking about all the little things you can do to avoid unnecessary damage or wear on your car. Here are our top tips for keeping your Volkswagen in its very best condition. 

Don’t perform DIY repairs

Youtube tutorials aren’t the answer. Running DIY Volkswagen repairs will often cost you a lot more money in the long run. Especially if you’re not using genuine VW parts. Volkswagens, as well as European cars generally, have these highly complex engines. Qualified Volkswagen mechanics have specialist diagnostic equipment on hand to work out what these complicated issues in your engine might be. So, Googling what a light on your dashboard means is a risky game. 

Qualified VW mechanics also have a thorough knowledge and understanding of your Volkswagen engine. So, it’s always best to have your car maintained by a professional. 

Always get it checked

Don’t put off or avoid going to the mechanic if you think there might be an issue with your Volkswagen’s engine. Strange sounds, pulls in your steering, bad smells, and squeaky brakes are all issues you should get check out as soon as you can. Putting off getting issues in your VW checked will usually only worsen the issue and make it become more severe, and therefore, more expensive. 

Keep it clean, inside and out

It’s really important to keep your car clean. It’s a vital step to maintaining your VW. Once the interior of your car begins to deteriorate, it can be really expensive and challenging to fix. Regularly vacuuming your car’s carpets and cleaning its surfaces will keep your VW’s interior in good condition. The same goes for the exterior of your Volkswagen.

Dirt, dust, and droppings from trees or birds can all damage your car’s paint if they’re not washed off quickly. Dust and dirt may dull the appearance of your paint in the patches they sit on. Droppings from trees, but especially from birds can actually etch the paint off of your exterior. Always clean these off of your car in a timely manner. Regular interior and exterior cleaning is an essential component to maintaining your VW.

Service it regularly

Your VW service might be more expensive, but you should always follow the service schedule specified by your VW’s logbook. For the quality of both your Volkswagen’s engine and its software, it’s best to get it serviced when Volkswagen has specified for you to. Remember, you should have your Volkswagen’s air conditioner serviced every two years too. This will keep it in good working condition, but it also helps prevent “car flu”. Car flu is where the bacterias, dirt, and dust trapped in your air conditioner filter give you flu symptoms while you’re in your car. 

It’s also vital to choose a regular, qualified Volkswagen mechanic with the appropriate equipment. Choosing a regular mechanic means they’ll be able to monitor your Volkswagen and notice when there are irregularities in your engine. 

Take care of your tyres

It goes for every vehicle, but maintaining your VW tyres is also essential. Make sure you’re regularly checking your tyres’ air pressure, checking their tread, and getting wheel alignments and balances when you need them. To learn more about tyre maintenance head here

Carbon System Cleaning

Another essential aspect of your maintaining your VW is carbon system cleaning. Once your VW starts to rack up higher mileage, the injection systems will begin to wear. Carbon deposits start to form in your engine’s intake valves, injectors, throttle body, and EGR system. If this isn’t taken care of once you notice the symptoms, you’ll need to replace parts due to failure from carbon build up. This will cost you more money in the long run. You can avoid expensive issues like misfires, hard starts, and excessive fuel consumption by getting a carbon blast engine clean in your Volkswagen. We’ll keep your VW’s engine clean of carbon deposits by keeping up with regular maintenance. You can improve engine’s response, reliability, and performance by getting your mechanic at LeMans Motors to run an engine carbon blast on your car. These start at $249.

We’re qualified Volkswagen mechanics with the latest in European diagnostic equipment. Get in touch today to book your VW in for a service. 

illustration of hand on tyre with red background

How To Maintain Your Tyres

Learning how to maintain your tyres properly is so important for both the lifespan of your tyres but also your on-road safety. Items like your tyres’ air pressure, tread, and wheel alignments are all paramount to keeping your tyres in a good and safe condition. If your tyres are worn, you’ll be more at risk of losing control of your car or crashing when driving — especially if the roads are wet. So much of optimal road safety practices rely on effective tyre maintenance. 

To properly maintain your tyres, it’s important you’re keeping your tyres at the right air pressure and having your wheels balanced, rotated, and aligned. Here’s how to maintain your tyres properly. 

How long should tyres last?

There’s no strict rule on how long your tyres should last. It depends on a range of variables. Things like: your driving habits, the climate you live in, the roads you drive on, the design of your tyres, and how well you’re maintaining them. Highway driving will wear tyres out quicker than stop-start city driving. This is because you’re travelling at a higher speed on the highway — higher speeds generate more heat which will wear tyres quicker. Then there’s the quality of your tyres. Cheaper tyres are usually cheaper for a reason. Tyres can last anywhere between 10,000 and 50,000 kilometres of driving.

Tyre Pressure: the core of tyre maintenance

Heading to a service station, checking your tyre pressure and putting air in your tyres can feel like a chore. It takes less than five minutes though and will seriously prolong the life of your tyres. There are a tonne of reasons you should be checking your tyre pressure regularly. First up: driving with low tyre pressure actually negatively affects your fuel economy. More importantly, it’s unsafe and really bad for your tyres. Driving on low tyre pressure means your tyres will wear quicker and more unevenly. If you’re driving on highways with low tyre pressure, you’re putting yourself at a much higher risk of blowing a tyre or losing control of your car. 

How often should I check my tyre pressure?

At least once a month. If you’re filling your car up with fuel once a week, maybe make checking your air pressure every second fill-up your routine. Otherwise, you can buy a digital gauge to keep at home. Digital gauges usually give a more reliable reading than the air pumps at your local service station. But that doesn’t mean you can’t rely on your local servo’s — it’ll do the trick. 

Remember that it’s important for your tyres to be as cool as possible before you take the reading. So if a digital gauge isn’t an option, try and get it done in the morning, and make the service station your first stop of the day. 

How do I put air in my tyres?

Firstly, set the gauge to the correct PSI for your tyres. The correct PSI for your car’s tyres should usually be found on a small sticker on the inside of your driver’s side door. If it’s not there, check the lid of your glove box — or if still in doubt, you can usually find it on your manufacturer’s website too. Most older cars will have each tyre set to the same PSI but a newer model of car will sometimes have different PSI specifications for the front and the rear tyres. So, be sure to read the sticker carefully. 

This may change sometimes too. Say you’re driving a newer model of hatchback that specifies 30 PSI for the rear tyres but 33 for the front. It may be based off of the assumption that you always have passengers in the front, but as it’s a hatchback, not always passengers in the back. So, if you’re heading on a road trip with backseat passengers or a full boot of luggage, it might be wiser to set your rear tyres to 33 as well. 

Once you’ve found your PSI and set it on the air machine, take the dust cap off of your tyre’s valve and connect the air hose to it. An older gauge will just attach to the tyre and start pumping. The more common, newer models will have a little handle on the side that you’ll have to squeeze to pump up your tyre. When your tyre has reached your set PSI, the machine will beep. Then you just reattach your dust cap and move onto the remaining tyres. 

Wheel Alignments & Rotations

When you take your car to your mechanic for a wheel alignment, they’ll adjust your suspension to ensure that your wheels are hitting the road the correct angle, meaning your wheels will travel in a straight line. Having your wheels aligned regularly means you can prevent uneven tyre wear. Misaligned wheels will put unnecessary demand on your tyres and cause the tread to wear prematurely. 

A wheel rotation is where your mechanic rotates your wheels so your front tyres go to the back and vice versa. Your front tyres will typically wear quicker than your rear tyres as there’s usually more weight and more demand on them. Rotating your tyres will make sure they wear evenly. 

You should get a wheel alignment after every 10,000km you’ve driven, or if you notice it’s out. You can ask your mechanic to rotate your wheels at your wheel alignment. 

How to tell if your wheel alignment is out:

  • Your car pulls to one side while travelling on a flat, straight road
  • Your steering wheel shakes
  • The handling of your steering wheel feels loose
  • Your steering wheel doesn’t naturally return to the centre after turning a corner
  • You’re seeing uneven or abnormal tyre wear

Wheel alignments are completed by mechanics and the cost will vary. It’ll typically be cheaper to get a wheel alignment done on a smaller car than a larger car. This is because more labour will be required for a larger car. 

When to change tyres

New tyres can become expensive and it can feel like a huge chore to go out and get them replaced. If your tyres are worn though, you should really replace them. When we talk about worn or bald tyres, we’re referring to the tread on your tyre being worn. It’s where the grooves (tread) become less and less deep and the surface of your tyre is beginning to smooth. It’s similar to how the bottom of a jogger will wear after a lot of use. 

Driving on bald tyres is incredibly dangerous because the tread is what your tyre uses to stick or grip to the road.

Adjust your driving habits

Alongside your tyre maintenance habits, you can prolong the life of your tyres by paying extra attention when you’re driving. Avoid hitting gutters or potholes where possible. This can put your wheels off balance and ruin your wheel alignment, or damage your tyre’s sidewalls. 

Take extra care when you’re driving around corners or roundabouts. Taking these too fast means your tyres will have less of a chance to grip to the road — plus it’ll usually result in uneven wear again.

What to look for when buying a used car

So, you’re thinking about buying a used car and you’re not sure where to even start. There’s a lot to consider when you’re buying a used car. Do you buy from a dealership or a private seller? How do you buy a used car? What should you be considering? We’ve got the answers. Here’s what to look for when buying a used car. 

What to look for when buying a used car

We’ll go through the steps for buying a used car and we’ll weigh the pros and cons of buying from a private seller and buying from a dealership down below. For now, here’s what to look for when buying a used car. 

1. Check out the exterior for rust or previous crashes

Make sure you head out to inspect the car during the day. It’ll be a lot easier to see scratches, marks, or dents in the daylight. Check over the car’s exterior for rust, or hidden rust. Hidden rust might be welded or painted over (usually not very well). Or, it might be on the car’s roof or under the floor mats inside. Be sure to check thoroughly. You should be looking for signs that the car has been in an accident too. Look at the gaps between the car panels — are they consistent? If the gaps differ in size, the car may have been in a crash and has been fixed dodgily. 

2. Check out the tyres and wheels — including the spare

Check the tyres for uneven wear — if there is, the wheels may be off balance, the car may need a wheel alignment, or they may just be a bit of a careless driver. Look at the spare tyre too, it’s always good to know if it’s in good knick… tyres are expensive!

3. Make sure the seatbelts, windows, and doors work 

It can be really frustrating to find out that something simple doesn’t work, especially when you’ve just purchased the car. Double check all of the used car’s interior features are still in play. Click in each seatbelt, put each window up and down and individually open each door. 

4. Ensure lights, the air conditioner, indicators, and dashboard switches work

Like we said, it’s really frustrating when something doesn’t work. Check all the lights (reverse, brake lights, headlights) work. Try out all the switches on the dashboard and run the air con during your test drive. It’s especially good to know if the car’s air conditioner works — these can be really expensive to fix. 

5. Make sure the front seats in the car adjust properly

You should make sure the driver’s seat definitely moves back and forth, but check the car’s front  seat movements in general. These are really common to break on older cars. 

6. Check the engine and engine fluids

Obviously, low fluids aren’t the end of the world, as they can be topped up. But check the engine and engine fluids anyway. If you check and the oil is low, it’s an indication of how the car’s been treated. Check the engine generally too. It shouldn’t look absolutely pristine — an insanely clean engine can be a sign that the seller is hiding something. On the flip side, a bomb site of an engine is a really poor sign too. 

Look for a creamy white liquid around the oil filler cap too. It’s a sign the head gasket might be leaking — you won’t want that mechanical bill either. 

7. Test drive time

Now you know what to look for when buying a used car, here’s how to test drive it. Before you turn on the car, twist the steering wheel from side to side and listen out for any bad sounds. Listen out for any sounds while you’re driving it too. Take the car up a steep hill and test the handbrake. If you can, drive it on a highway to see how the car handles at a higher speed. If the car’s manual, make sure you change up and down between each gear on the drive — to make sure the clutch and gearbox are in fine condition. 

How to buy a used car

Now you know what to look for when buying a used car, here’s how to buy a used car. 

1. Define a budget

When you’re looking to buy a car, it’s really good to have an idea of what you can afford before you start looking. Set a budget and be sure to factor in stamp duty, registration costs, and travel as well, if you’ll need to drive to a nearby city. 

2. Get an idea of what you can afford

Hop on Carsales, Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, and car dealership websites to get an idea of what you can afford within your budget. 

3. Start looking for cars

Now you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to start looking for cars. Be sure to consider the description critically. You can gloss over little things in the excitement of getting a new car. But consider each detail. Consider the kilometres on the car for its age… A car with 200,000km on the odometer isn’t bad if it’s 20 years old — but it’s really strange if it’s only 5 years old. 

4. Contact a seller

You’ve found something you like — amazing. Contact the seller now. Ask any questions you might have for them: how long have they owned it? Are they the only owner? Has it been in hail or in a flood?

5. Inspect the car

Arrange a time to inspect the car. This is where everything we said up above about what to look for in a used car comes in…

6. Ask about the car’s history

Ask the owner about the car’s history. Are they the only owner of the car? Has it been in a crash? Can the owner supply a logbook showing every service event has been completed? Get them to show you a safety certificate (FKA roadworthy certificate/RWC) too. 

7. Confirm the car’s history

Now you’ve asked the owner about the car’s history — double check it yourself. Get a vehicle history check, this will let you know if the car’s been stolen, if it’s been written off, or if the owner still owes money on it.

8. Take it for a test drive

Like we said up above, take it for a test drive and listen to the car. Pay attention to the handling, take it on a variety of roads, and pay attention to how it drives. 

9. Negotiate the price

You should try and be fair here. If the car’s already a really decent price and everything checks out well, probably don’t haggle. You could alienate the seller and there’s a good chance they won’t take it, as they know they can get more for it. But, if there is wiggle room on the cost, then give negotiating the price a go. 

10. Pay and sign the papers

All that’s left is to pay the money and sign the papers, and voila, the car’s yours. How this process works and which papers need to signed exactly will vary from state to state — so check your state government’s transport website. Be sure to have the car insured before you drive it away!

Dealership Vs. Private Seller

Now you know what to look for when buying a used car and how to buy a used car — but which is better: the dealership or a private seller? Buying from the dealership is usually a little bit safer. Their reputation matters more, so they shouldn’t rip you off massively or sell you an absolute lemon. However, the car will be a bit pricier and there’s less wiggle room. Dealerships have mechanics on hand to repair any damage, so there’s less incentive to hide any dodgy breaks in the car. Plus, at a dealership, the ‘driveaway’ tags will include the registration and stamp duty. A private seller should usually be selling a used car for less and will also be more willing to negotiate price — especially if the car’s had trouble selling.

christmas road trip, christmas tree, rear view mirror

How to Prepare Your Car for a Road Trip

Christmas and New Years, along with the holiday season are well and truly on their way, which means there are plenty of family road trips on the horizon. Nothing ruins your holiday like unnecessary car problems — or finding yourself stuck on the side of the Bruce Highway in the middle of Summer. Here’s how to prepare your car for a road trip, so you don’t get stuck these holidays. 

1. Prepare early: don’t check it the day before you leave 

This should be an obvious one, but when you’re preparing for a road trip, it’s good to check your car early. We’re talking a couple of weeks before the trip. This leaves you with plenty of time to get it to a mechanic and have it repaired if you notice something. 

2. Get a car service if you need it

If your car is due for a car service, get it done now. Again, this probably seems obvious. But, if your car is a month away from needing a service, or a thousand kilometres off needing one — get it done now. Maybe it isn’t due, but there’s a noise or a weird feeling that you’re not sure about? Bring it to a mechanic. 

3. Check your engine over

Double check your engine yourself. Are there any leaks, cracks, or does anything look unusual? Check it now so if you do find something, you have plenty of time to get it checked. 

4. Check your engine fluids

This is one of the most important parts of how to prepare your car for a road trip. Check all your fluids are topped up. Check your oil, change it if you need to. Check your coolant, your power steering fluid, your windscreen washing liquid. If you know any of these are going quicker than they should, like your oil for instance, be sure to bring extra along for the trip. 

5. Check your tyres (and your spare)

Check over all of your tyres. You’d probably know if any of your tyres had a puncture in them, but double check them anyway. Make sure they’re at the right air pressure too. An essential part of how to prepare your car for a road trip is putting air in your tyres the morning you leave. Check the tread on your tyres too. Having bald, or semi-bald tyres is already unsafe — don’t take them on the highway, it’s a safety hazard for you and everyone else on the road, especially if it rains. 

Check your spare tyre for all these things too — and put air in it the morning you leave as well. There’s no use having a spare tyre sitting in your boot if it’s as flat as your already-flat tyre. 

6. Check all of your lights

Make sure all of your lights are working. Your reverse lights, brake lights, headlights, high beams, and even your interior lights. 

7. Clean up

Basically any road trip should be nicer if your car is clean, but that’s not what we mean. You need to know you’ll have good visibility when you’re preparing for your road trip. Clean your windscreen, rear windshield, and windows — inside and outside. Make sure your rear view mirror and your side mirrors are clean too. 

8. Check your rego, insurance, roadside assistance

We really hope that these things are too difficult to forget about. But, be sure to double check your registration, car insurance, and roadside assistance is all up to date for your entire trip. 

9. Pack safely

When you’re working out how to prepare your car for a road trip, learn about packing a car safely too. Your luggage should be packed in snugly and covered, so that if you do crash, there’s no luggage flying around your car.  

10. Pack entertainment

When you’re preparing your car for a road trip, be sure to prepare entertainment too — especially if you’re travelling with kids. Bored kids are dangerous and distracting. Pack them books, games, movies, colouring in. Ideally, this way the threats of turning the car around are at an absolute minimum. Don’t forget your own entertainment either. Podcasts, playlists, snacks, maybe a trivia game?

11. Make sure your playlist is downloaded

Is there anything worse than losing reception on a road trip and having your streaming app cut out? Make sure you’ve downloaded your playlist or podcasts so they’re ready to go, even when you’re in the middle of nowhere. 

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Think your car might benefit from a check over by a mechanic? Bring your car into one of our four workshops across Brisbane. 

Mechanic Milton

Mechanic Bulimba

Mechanic Newstead

Mechanic Woolloongabba

European Car Service: Why It’s More Expensive

We all know that luxury cars and European cars are more expensive than their Japanese and Korean counterparts. Your European brands like BMW, Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes Benz, Alfa Romeo, Land Rovers, Peugeot, and even Skoda are all known for costing a little bit extra. 

A slightly lesser known fact is that they’re usually more expensive to service and maintain. It’s a big consideration involved with buying one of these cars. You can afford the initial purchase price, but can you afford to maintain it long-term? 

This is partially from the dealership myth. Dealerships and car manufacturers tell us that we need to take our cars to them for our car services or repairs. If we don’t, we’ll lose our car’s warranty and destroy the resale value. While both of those ideas are totally untrue… Having your European or luxury car serviced at a ‘normal’ mechanic workshop isn’t cheap either. But, why?

We’re taking a look at car service prices and how they’re broken down. So you can feel more informed next time you’re looking for a European car service.

How are typical car services priced?

The price of a car service depends on which state you’re in, whether you’re located regionally or in the city, and on your mechanic. Did you know Western Australia is the cheapest state to get your car serviced in? While the ACT is the most expensive for it. 

More specific considerations, made by your workshop are: labour costs, parts costs, and whether there’s a large maintenance event due. Large maintenance events include service items like: timing belts, clutches, and air conditioner services. These items are costly to repair and replace — and the parts themselves are typically expensive. So, certain logbook car services will cost more as well, because they require these large maintenance events. 

Then, you’ll find pricing differences between a car service for a hatchback and for an SUV. There’ll be pricing differences between services for a Japanese or Korean car and an Australia-manufactured car too — because the former’s parts will usually be cheaper. Then of course, there’s another jump in price to service a European car or a luxury car.

How much more expensive is a European car service?

Your Mechanic crunched the numbers here and back in 2016, they found that the most expensive car brands (not just European car brands) to maintain over a ten year period were: 

  1. BMW
  2. Mercedes-Benz
  3. Cadillac
  4. Volvo
  5. Audi

However, that’s talking maintenance. In maintenance, researchers include the depreciation costs, insurance, registration, and fuel. 

More recently RACQ has weighed up similar data. They considered the weekly and annual costs of running a car. They based this on a car being purchased with a five-year loan and travelling 15,000km a year, taking into account expenses like: loan interest, tyres, fuel, services, insurance, registration, and depreciation. 

Across the 140 different cars they considered, the average cost was $237 a week — $12,300 a year. The cheapest vehicle was a Mitsubishi Mirage ES manual hatch at $6,000 per year. The most expensive? The BMW X5 at $23,000 per year.

Which car should you get for the cheapest luxury or European car service?

Electric cars are providing the cheapest maintenance costs at the moment. Tesla is among the cheapest of luxury cars when it comes to servicing. This is because, unlike any other European brands, luxury cars, and basically any vehicle that releases emissions, electric vehicles don’t have the same service requirements. Electric cars don’t need oil changes, fuel filter changes, or spark plug replacements.

Where do the extra costs come from for European cars?

Firstly, the dealership tax. Like we touched on earlier, getting your car serviced at the dealership is almost always more expensive. However, especially with a European car service, car owners can feel scared to take their cars elsewhere. Each car’s engine is different, however, up until recently European cars and their technologies were quite different. Today, European cars will usually have slightly more sophisticated engines. So, there may be higher labour costs if your mechanic isn’t totally familiar with the brand (but this shouldn’t be a noticeable amount).

The big kicker though, is the parts. European car parts are more expensive than other cars’ parts. Firstly, a lot of workshops won’t keep European car parts in stock how they would with Hyundai spare parts. So, often they need to order the parts in. Secondly, European car parts are usually of a higher quality already — so they’re already expensive without the special ordering and shipping.

Dealerships Vs. Workshop for European car service: what’s the difference?

While we know dealerships are certain to be more expensive than a generic workshop, some workshops do apply a luxury car tax. Typically though, servicing your car with a generic mechanic will be cheaper. The truth is though, it depends on your mechanic, the workshop, the kilometre service you’re up to, your city… the list goes on.

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Looking for a more affordable European car service? All of our car services are done by the book.
Book your car in with us today here.

How To Change Your Oil

Oil changes are completed at every routine car service but knowing how to change your oil is an excellent skill. It’s an essential of simple DIY car maintenance and it can save you some cash along the way. Changing your oil should take about an hour for a beginner but once you’ve done it a few times, it might take closer to half an hour. 

When to complete an oil change

The rule of thumb here is that you should change your oil every 10,000 kilometres or every six months — the same as your car service. However, each manufacturer specifies varying intervals for kilometres travelled and time limits when it comes to oil changes. Older cars will typically need their oil changed more frequently than a newer car. A lot of new car models now have lights that indicate you might need an oil change too. 

What you’ll need for an oil change

  • Engine Oil
  • Oil Filter
  • Oil Wrench or Oil Filter Wrench
  • Sump Plug Washer
  • Vehicle Jack
  • Axle Stands
  • Wheel Chock
  • Drain pan
  • Funnel
  • Old towel and a rag
  • Gloves
  • Degreaser

Steps to change your oil

Step 1: Work out which kind of oil you need and how much

Step 2: Prepare your car, tools, a container, and a towel

Step 3: Find the oil drain plug & drain the oil

Step 4: Remove the oil filter

Step 5: Tighten the oil drain plug

Step 6: Replace the oil filter

Step 7: Add new oil

Step 8: Check the oil level 

Step 1: Work out which kind of oil you need and how much

The first step of an oil change is working out which oil you’ll need and how much of it. Your car’s owner manual should specify which oil you need. If you’re unable to find your owner’s manual, there are other resources online too or your local car shop, like Supercheap Auto, can usually help you out. 

Your manual should let you know how much oil you’ll need too. Always buy a little bit of extra oil — but, if you’re planning to buy the oil in bulk, make sure you’ll be able to lift it, and hold it steady while you pour. 

Step 2: Prepare your car, tools, a container, and a towel

Make sure you’ve got all of your tools, oil, and cleaning equipment ready to go. Prepare your car too. Your engine will need to be warm, but not hot. So let it sit there long enough that it cools down, but not long enough to go cold. The car should be parked on a flat and level surface. It  should be in ‘park’ or in gear, turned off, and the handbrake should be on. 

You might need to raise your car to get better access — now is the time to do it. You can use a trolley jack and axle stands for this. If you’re not lifting the car, putting chocks in front of your wheels is a good idea.

If you have a newer car, your engine might have an undercover over the engine. You’ll need to remove this to access your oil filter and drain plug. 

What you’ll need:

  • Engine Oil
  • Oil Filter
  • Oil Wrench or Oil Filter Wrench
  • Sump Plug Washer
  • Vehicle Jack
  • Axle Stands
  • Wheel Chock
  • Drain pan
  • Funnel
  • Old towel and a rag (your first oil change especially will get messy)
  • Gloves
  • Degreaser

Step 3: Find the oil drain plug & drain the oil

Now is the time to put on a pair of gloves — this will help with the heat of the engine and save hand-washing time later on. Find your drain plug, your drain plug is a large nut or plug and can be found underneath the oil pan at the bottom of your engine. 

Position your oil container or pan underneath the plug before unscrewing, so it’s ready to catch the oil. Make sure to note that it won’t pour directly down, it’ll pour on an angle so your pan should be positioned properly. You can sort of cap the drain with your finger while you work out where’s best for the pan. 

You may be able to unscrew the plug with your fingers but usually this will require a wrench. The oil should now drain into the container. To help get the oil flowing nicely, you can remove the top oil cap too. 

While the oil’s draining you can give the drain plug a clean. 

Step 4: Remove the filter

If you have two oil pans, you can do this step while you wait for the oil to drain out of the plug. If you don’t, you’ll need to wait and use the pan here as well. Oil filters aren’t attached very tight during your car service, but their sealing gaskets can swell over time, making them tighter to get out. If this happens, you can give it a tug with a wrench. 

As soon as your filter is loosened, oil will gush out. So only use the wrench to loosen the filter and then remove it slowly, keeping your oil pan in position. Once the filter is coming off, don’t let go of it and don’t let it drop into the pan. Be prepared for a bit of a mess at this stage. 

Step 5: Tighten the oil drain plug

Take either your new, replacement drain plug or your old, cleaned up drain plug and tighten it back on. You’ll know the drain plug has been tightened properly if you’ve used the square end of a combination wrench to tighten the plug as much as possible — without using a hammer or other tool for extra leverage. You want to tighten the nut well, but not too much as this can strip the nut of its threading. 

Step 6: Replace the oil filter

It’s important to make sure the old filter’s O-ring is removed — a double up of these means the oil won’t travel through the engine properly, which causes huge issues. Grab your new filter and dab a bit of the new oil around the O-ring.

To install the new filter, spin it on really gently until the O-ring first makes contact with the seal. Your oil filter should be tightened from three quarters of a turn to a full turn. You don’t want to over-tighten the filter here so it’s a good idea to check the specification in your owner’s manual. 

Step 7: Add new oil

It’s time to add the oil now. At this stage of the oil change, it’s best to double check that both the drain plug and oil filter are properly in place and tightened well. Pour in the new oil, but make sure to pour in about one litre (1L) less than is recommended. 

Now, replace the oil cap and start your car’s engine. Run it for 30 seconds or so, so that the oil runs through the engine. Then, you can turn the engine back off and check underneath the car for leaks. 

Step 8: Check the oil level 

Once you’re happy the change has been completed perfectly and there are no leaks, you can bring your car back down to flat and level ground. Then you can check your oil — it should be a bit lower than full because we didn’t add in that extra litre. Pour in the extra litre or so now.

Your first oil change is complete! 

After more than an oil change? Bring your car into one of our Bulimba, Newstead, or Milton workshops for your next car service.

hand holding fuel pump

Should You Use Premium Fuel In Your Car?

As mechanics, we regularly hear our customers are confused about premium fuel. Their car might specify they have to use it, or recommend they use it. There’s a lot of conflicting opinions out there about premium fuel, what it does, and whether or not you need it. The truth is, premium fuel does have some benefits and some cars may need it. So, should you use premium fuel in your car? Much like humans, there’s not a one-size-fits-all diet for cars — it’s a bit more complex than yes or no.

What is premium fuel?

What even is it? It normally has a flashy name like Premium, Super Unleaded, or Ultimate Performance… but what is it? In Australia, our current fuel standard is 91 RON (Research Octane Number) — this is the fuel most cars accept and the one that has the long lines at the servo. Increasingly though, there are cars that need 95 RON premium fuel and some even fancier cars in need of a 98 RON premium fuel. Premium fuels are normally around 12 cents or 10% more expensive than regular kinds.

What does it do?

So, the difference between the fuels is all in the octane level. Octane determines how much compression the fuel can take before igniting. This means a premium fuel will have more octane so it won’t explode or pre-ignite as quickly as its cheaper counterparts. This is where premium fuels becomes more valuable in high performance or luxury cars. These cars’ engines will have higher compression rates than your regular family car. Cars that specify you need to fill them with a premium fuel or a fuel with a higher octane level should typically have a high compression engine and typically work more efficiently and emit less emissions.

What if I don’t use a premium fuel?

If you have a car with a high compression rate and you choose a lower octane fuel or a regular kind you may experience ‘knock on’. Knock on happens when a car with a high compression ratio uses a normal fuel. Normal fuel will ignite prematurely due to the space inside the cylinder. This causes knock on which is just a knocking or rattling sound inside your engine. 
Knock on isn’t necessarily bad for you car but it’s not ideal and a heavy knock can actually result in damage to your engine.

Does premium fuel improve your car’s performance?

Not really. If your car needs premium fuel then using a normal kind can decrease your car’s performance. If your car doesn’t need premium fuel, it won’t have much of a benefit. Your car’s horsepower is its horsepower and fuel can’t change or affect that. The only difference it could make is better economy. However, the savings in increasing your fuel economy with premium fuel will be so slight, they won’t outweigh the extra spend.

How do I know if my car needs premium fuel?

Check your car’s fuel door (there may be a sticker there) or double check your car manual. If it specifies your car needs to take a premium fuel, then use one. If it recommends you use it, you don’t necessarily need to — but in some cases, using a fuel with a lower octane than your car recommends can be damaging.

The different Australian fuel types compared:

E10

This is usually the cheapest fuel option. It’s not necessarily compatible for every vehicle but it’s safe for most modern cars. The fuel economy on this one isn’t ideal and the fuel is part ethanol (up to 10%).  

91

You can find 91 pretty much everywhere and it’s what most cars run on. It’s more expensive than E10 but it’s the moderate choice for most cars. Though, a lot of modern car models will specify they need a higher octane level than 91. 

95

Your 95 option is the mid range premium fuel. It’s good for small, high-performance cars and is a fair bit more expensive than 91. This one isn’t as popular as the 91 option. 

98

This one is the ultimate performance fuel. It’s even more expensive than the 95 but is worth it if your car requires premium fuel. If you have a performance or luxury car, the 98 option will likely be for you. People argue this fuel can ‘clean’ injectors and engines but most fuel types include this special detergent too nowadays. 

Still have a question? You can ask our friendly mechanics in Milton, Bulimba, or Newstead for car advice any time.

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