Oil Changes are Hard

Well I thought I knew how to do an oil change with no problem.

There was one caveat: Using super thin SAE 0W-20 oil on the oil filter gasket doesn’t work well.

I was changing the oil in my 2016 Mazda 3.

Tools Required: (Those last two messed me up)

  • 8mm socket
  • 8mm Allen/hex key
  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Philips head screwdriver (optional)
  • Small extension (optional)
  • Ratchet
  • Lubricant for oil filter gasket!
  • Oil filter wrench!
The last two items on the list are missing from the photo.

First problem was that I took of the wrong plastic cover piece. There is one closer to the front of the car. I thought it was for the drain plug. I was wrong. One (slightly larger about 15″x15″) cover piece allows access to both the oil filter and drain plug.

When I was taking off the old oil filter, I could barely get it off. I spent about 15 minutes getting in just the right position and used all of my hand strength.

I was confused why it was so difficult, because I put the last one on myself, and I would have been careful not to over-tighten it.

When I put the new one on, the directions said to turn it 3/4 to 1 full turn after contact with the block.

  1. I lubricated the oil filter gasket with the brand-new SAE 0W-20 oil.
  2. I got it to 1/2 turn, then it wouldn’t budge. Totally stuck.
  3. I couldn’t even loosen it!

Now, I was discouraged and laying under a hot car, debating whether to leave an improperly tightened filter as-is and hope for the best, or actually fix it.

Thankfully, my neighbor had a large set of pliers and I was able to get the filter off!

I retried the installation using a 3-IN-ONE multipurpose oil. It’s the kind that is used for bike chains, casters, etc.

This time, everything felt normal. I was able to turn to about 3/4 turn perfectly. Hopefully, the oil is still on there when I got to take the filter off!

In addition to using better filter gasket lubricant, I would never risk doing the job without something to take off the oil filter with force. Oil filter wrench is probably ideal, but at least something like large enough pliers.


Rear Brake Pad Replacement: A Doozy

We have a 2016 Mazda 3. I needed to replace the rear brake pads.

I’ve done this before on other cars, so I thought it would be easy. Due to my inexperience and lack of tools, it was not.

Getting everything to the point of removing the caliper went fine. Then, I needed to compress the caliper piston. The idea is to move it in the direction of the red arrows.

I was trying to force the piston straight back in.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the official tool, so I got creative. I tried forcing it in with several items.

  • C-clamp that didn’t quite fit
  • Spare piece of wood
  • Spare piece of aluminum
  • Spreading apart neighbors pliers

After breaking my neighbor’s pliers, I gave up for the day, and re-assembled everything with the old brake pads still in the car. ???? ????

I became furious, then cried a little bit, then went online and ordered the tool.

The tool looks like this.

The key is actually to rotate/screw the caliper piston back in, as opposed to pushing it straight in.

This is true for the back brakes, not the front ones. The process is different because the parking brake is connected to the back brakes.

After screwing, the piston moved back into position.

Now that I know how the piston needs to rotate, I’m not sure that the tool was actually required. I probably could have used pliers.

However, I had a new problem! It looked like the rubber seal was completely messed up as a result of the twisting.

Nooo, Why?!

Luckily, this turned out to be no problem. I easily pushed the rubber seal back in place with my thumbs.

Whew, close one.

After swapping out the old pads for new ones, the brakes were ready for re-assembly!

The car is now back on the road.


Observing Jupiter and Saturn Together

Today, Jupiter and Saturn formed a visible “double planet” for the first time in 800 years. It was also the winter solstice.

The winter solstice of 2020 was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the planets align!

Bethany and I managed to snap a few photos!

Here is the “double planet” that looks like a single one with the naked eye.

Jupiter and Saturn are the bright spot toward the top left of the tree.

With the binoculars, you can see the two planets distinctly. It took both of us together holding the phone camera and binoculars to make this happen ????


Panda Bear is in the Sink

What a great relaxation spot!

Let’s hope she stays out of the toilet!