How to give your car a lube job
By Radio Sloan • Photo by Megan Holmes
Courtesy of Venus Zine

Radio Sloan, former guitarist and bassist for the late ’90s experimental queercore band the Need has a reputation as the woman who can build, take apart, or fix anything. Though she’s not a certified mechanic, she’s picked up a thing or two about car care. “I had to tour around the country with no money in a shitty van,” she says. “That’s how I learned to be a mechanic.”

Sloan is a big proponent of doing your own car repairs if you can and recommends checking your oil, transmission fluid, and brake fluid regularly to avoid surprise hassles on the road.


Oil: Depending on your engine size, you will need 4 to 6 quarts. You can ask at the auto-parts store, or approximate by cylinders. For instance, a four-cylinder engine will usually take 4 to 5 quarts.

Oil filter: There are cross-reference books available in the oil filter section that will list the type of filter you will need by your car’s year, make, and model.

Oil filter wrench: I’ve used the belt from my pants many times. It’s all about leverage, but I suggest to first-timers to spend the couple bucks on a wrench to add to your collection of “the right tools for the job.”

Ratchet set or wrenches for your oil filter bolt: If your car wasn't made in the U.S., chances are it’s metric, so be sure to choose the correct size of wrench. I want to remind you that if you use a crescent wrench or something weird to try to remove the bolt, you may be opening a can of worms and might have to replace the bolt entirely if you strip it or if it keeps leaking.

Oil drainage pan: You need some sort of container to put the old oil in that slides under the car. I use old cat-litter pans.

Funnel and dipstick

Note: Assuming you have a ratchet set, your cost will be about $15 for the filter, oil, and new filter wrench.

Step 1: Prep

Start your engine and let your car warm up a bit so all the crap in the oil is loose and will come out easily. Park your car on a level surface. Then crawl under the car and find your oil drain bolt. It’s going to be under the car, pretty close to the center, in between the front tires.


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