Changing your own MH Oil - not always so simple

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JoelP

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It has been years since I changed oil in my car, but at the price the RV shop charges I figured, why not?  I figured that I could buy the best full synthetic and a filter for one-third of what I had been paying. 

I went off in search of the Chevy Workhorse oil filter and struck out at O'Reilly's who could not find this in their system.  Napa sold a filter that looked nothing like the one that was there.  So, I returned it and bought the filter from UltraRV, paying the shipping cost, but knowing I had the right one.


Next I bought an extra large pan to catch 6.5 qts of oil and went at it.  The next surprise was that the 7/8" socket would not turn the plug on the bottom of the crankcase.  I went out and bought a set of recovery sockets to enable grabbing compromised nuts and the like, but it too was unable to grab this plug and turn it.  I tried a pair of vice grips, but these just chewed up the nut of the plug and failed to turn it. At this point I was determined to not let this defeat my efforts so I called a friend with more experience at fixing trucks and got his recommendations, some of which were more drastic than others.


What finally worked was to use a stone chisel and a hammer applied to the outer skirt rim of the plug, after applying some WD40 to the area where the plug contacted the crankcase.  It took 5 minutes of beating until I has driven a substantial notch into this rim with no motion at all until it finally let loose.  Before removing it I ran the engine until the oil was hot, turned things off and finally was able to drain off the oil.  Funny how this is never covered in the YouTube videos on changing one's oil. 


Next I went off in search of a new drain plug.  For sure a truck supply company in a city the size of San Jose would have this, but none of them service Workhorse and had no parts at all.  Not wanting to send away to UltraRV and wait, I called the largest RV repair shop to buy one. They too had none in stock, but suggested O Reilly's.  I took the old plug there and to my surprise there was a very large assorment of plugs to match it to.  There was a plug identical to my plug and another, which I bought, with a magnetic insert to catch the metallic materials in the oil.  This fit perfectly and I was on my way.


Now that I have paid the tuition, will I do this again?  Ask me next year.
 

Dragginourbedaround

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If possible change your oil drain plug with a fumoto valve. Changed mine a couple of oil changes ago. No more mess. Just run a tube from the valve into an empty milk bottle, open valve, close when bottle is full, put hose into next bottle and finish draining, close valve.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Fumoto
 

Isaac-1

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5 Minutes of online research would have told you that most people use the 1 quart NAPA 1060 / Wix 51060 filter, though there are also 1/2 and 1 1/2 quart filters that will work. Also a bit of research will tell you that the oil drain plug is metric, specifically 15mm like most / all GM vehicles of the era, the engine is afterall a GM product.  Next time you are in an autoparts store, try asking for parts for that year Suburban with the 8.1L or Chevrolet Kodiak medium duty truck, most will be the same.
 

JoelP

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Dragginourbedaround said:
If possible change your oil drain plug with a fumoto valve. Changed mine a couple of oil changes ago. No more mess. Just run a tube from the valve into an empty milk bottle, open valve, close when bottle is full, put hose into next bottle and finish draining, close valve.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Fumoto

OK This will be for the next time, but even if I had this I still would have been chiseling off the old plug.
 

Lou Schneider

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Yeah, using an SAE socket on a tight Metric bolt will tend to round it off.  Both GM and Ford use Metric fasteners in their vehicles to conform with the rest of the world, and have done so since the 1980s.  Most socket sets sold today include both SAE and Metric assortments.

Asking for parts for a similar pickup or Kodiak truck is a good tip -  I have a 1993 Chevy motorhome with the P30 chassis, if the parts guy can't find what I want under the P30 listing I have him check for the pickup part.
 

JoelP

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Isaac-1 said:
5 Minutes of online research would have told you that most people use the 1 quart NAPA 1060 / Wix 51060 filter, though there are also 1/2 and 1 1/2 quart filters that will work. Also a bit of research will tell you that the oil drain plug is metric, specifically 15mm like most / all GM vehicles of the era, the engine is afterall a GM product.  Next time you are in an autoparts store, try asking for parts for that year Suburban with the 8.1L or Chevrolet Kodiak medium duty truck, most will be the same.

I will have to hone my online research for such things.  I will keep this in mind for next time.
 

Isaac-1

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Joel, I just saw your reply that quoted my reply, and noticed that my statement comes off as more adversarial than I had intended.      When I wrote that message I was short on time, and was more concerned about getting the statement about the correct filter and wrench size, and techniques to deal with  auto parts stores into the conversation than at how this may have came across.    For this I apologize
 

John From Detroit

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HOw much does the dealer charge.. I pay about 65 dollars with semi-synthetic oil filter and they grease all the zerks as well.  Strangely they charge the same for the generator.  (I usually do it myself)

I have all the needed tools and the oil filter is not that hard to find NAPA should have both sizes).

THe big one takes more oil.

The hard part is putting the oil in .. Now I'm working on making that easier (Quart bottlesd are not that hard but bigger containers are impossible) the dealers use a pump.

NOTE: same price for a car.
 

JoelP

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John From Detroit said:
HOw much does the dealer charge.. I pay about 65 dollars with semi-synthetic oil filter and they grease all the zerks as well.  Strangely they charge the same for the generator.  (I usually do it myself)

I have all the needed tools and the oil filter is not that hard to find NAPA should have both sizes).

THe big one takes more oil.

The hard part is putting the oil in .. Now I'm working on making that easier (Quart bottlesd are not that hard but bigger containers are impossible) the dealers use a pump.

NOTE: same price for a car.


In San Jose not every place that will do a car will do an RV, so you are relegated to an RV shop. Truck shops won't touch RVs.  If my memory serves me correctly the fee was $125 for standard oil and more for synthetic.
 

JoelP

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Isaac-1 said:
Joel, I just saw your reply that quoted my reply, and noticed that my statement comes off as more adversarial than I had intended.      When I wrote that message I was short on time, and was more concerned about getting the statement about the correct filter and wrench size, and techniques to deal with  auto parts stores into the conversation than at how this may have came across.    For this I apologize

No worry, I was glad to learn what will work next time.  It strikes me as strange that one can use 1/2 quart to 1 1/2 quart filters.  The one Ultra RV sent for my vin # was 1/2 quart.  This seems awfully small for an 8.1L engine.
 

Isaac-1

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The big concern on oil filter sizing is that it not be exposed to damage from road debris, with the 8.1L at least in motorhome applications the oil filter is in a very safe location, so that 1/2 and 1 quart filters are very well protected, and 1 1/2 quart are only slightly more exposed.  Of course the larger the filter the more oil it takes to fill the engine.  The 1/2 vs 1 quart filter seems to be a bit of a debate, and it also seems that some RV brands may have recommended each.  Personally I think it is safe insurance to go with the 1 quart filter, as it adds considerably more filter media, at minimal additional expense.
 

John Stephens

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I had my oil changed by my mechanic several times, always being charged $125-135 for regular oil. I decided to switch to synthetic and asked how much. Was told $195 for full synthetic, $205 for Mobil One and $225 for Mobil One Extended Life or High Mileage.

I went on Amazon, ordered the correct filter and two 5-gallon containers of Mobile One Extended Life oil for a total cost of $56. I got the two 5 gallon containers because my 8.1L Workhorse takes 6.5 quarts and if I ordered 2 extra quarts in addition to one 5 gallon container, the quarts would have cost me $9 each when the 5 gallon cost $23. No brainer. I'll have extra oil to add whenever needed and maybe change over the generator oil to synthetic also.

I had to quit changing oil in my own cars because they're built too low to the ground to slide underneath them with my advanced age belly. But the coach is built high enough that I don't have a problem. I always keep the previous oil containers to drain the oil so I don't have to worry about having a pan large enough to do the job. I just drain it into a funnel sitting in the oil container. When the first one gets full, I pop the drain plug back in and set up the second one. I take them to the local Walmart and they take them off my hands for no charge.

The next time I change the oil, I'll already have 3 extra quarts left over from the last change and will only have to buy one 5 gallon container and a filter with a total cost of around $30, while the mechanics are still charging $225.
 

HueyPilotVN

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John From Detroit said:
HOw much does the dealer charge.. I pay about 65 dollars with semi-synthetic oil filter and they grease all the zerks as well.  Strangely they charge the same for the generator.  (I usually do it myself)

I have all the needed tools and the oil filter is not that hard to find NAPA should have both sizes).

THe big one takes more oil.

The hard part is putting the oil in .. Now I'm working on making that easier (Quart bottlesd are not that hard but bigger containers are impossible) the dealers use a pump.

NOTE: same price for a car.

John,

Go to Tractor supply,  Get one of these.
 

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Arch Hoagland

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Did you warm up the engine BEFORE you tried to remove the plug?

I installed a Fumoto drian plug right away when I bought my rig.

I go to the Chevrolet dealer and buy the PF454 filter which is what came on my 8.1 when it was new. I've changed the oil and filter every 3,000 to 4,000 miles for the past 90,000 miles.

Change all my transmission fluid too and recently switched to Transynd. 
 

Robert K

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I think John means 5 qt jug Bill. If not thats a hell of a deal on 5 gals
I have to get 7 gals for my 3126 Rotella t6  has a $7 rebate per gal
Isaac I don't see the Fram filter debate
 

JoelP

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San Jose, CA
Arch Hoagland said:
Did you warm up the engine BEFORE you tried to remove the plug?

I installed a Fumoto drian plug right away when I bought my rig.


Yes, of course I warmed the engine before trying to remove the plug, but then I couldn't remove the plug.  A day later when I was ready to try drastic measures to get this plug out I first worked to break it loose and then rewarmed the engine before removing the oil.


I only wish I knew about the Fumoto device before doing this, but now that I have paid the tuition to learn all this I will order one of these before I change it again.


BTW even after about 4000 miles this oil was rather black.  While in my car they say that 10K miles is OK I don't believe this for my RV engine.

When I looked at the transmission it was also rather dark, so I drained this as well (this plug came out easily) and replaced it with Dextron VI Full Synthetic, at the recommendation of an RV repair shop.  At 14K miles it seems rather soon to need transmission oil change, but it cannot hurt. Maybe next time I will be able to easily find Transynd.
 

Bobtop46

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Isaac-1 said:
5 Minutes of online research would have told you that most people use the 1 quart NAPA 1060 / Wix 51060 filter, though there are also 1/2 and 1 1/2 quart filters that will work. Also a bit of research will tell you that the oil drain plug is metric, specifically 15mm like most / all GM vehicles of the era, the engine is afterall a GM product.  Next time you are in an autoparts store, try asking for parts for that year Suburban with the 8.1L or Chevrolet Kodiak medium duty truck, most will be the same.

Funny thing about this, slightly off topic.  I pull my MINI Cooper behind my RV and it is 99.99% all metric, except the oil drain plug which is 1/2" inch.  Came that way new from the factory.

For the OP: http://www.oemys-performance.com/whparts.htm
 

John Stephens

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Robert K said:
I think John means 5 qt jug Bill. If not thats a hell of a deal on 5 gals
I have to get 7 gals for my 3126 Rotella t6  has a $7 rebate per gal
Isaac I don't see the Fram filter debate

Oops! You're correct, Robert. My mistake and I thank you for catching it. Should have been 5 quarts, not gallons.
 
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