Tuesday, November 3, 2015

RV oil change

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My husband is not a trusting person. He likes to do his own work on our motorhome when he can.

When we are on the road for months at a time he would rather do his own oil changes but the parks we stay in will not allow it. We always have to find a facility that will accommodate our big rig. The little quicky places are designed for smaller vehicles.

I tire of him grousing about the cost of the oil change and his worrying over what else the place might have done while under our rig. He checked after the last job and found the drain plug loose.

Does everyone go through this misery or just he and I?
--Lube Brooding in Bristol

Dear Lube:
It is often a problem finding a place to work on your rig while traveling. Many of the parks that have a maintenance area only allow resident owners to use it for liability reasons.

An oil change should be a fairly easy and straightforward job. I would think many parks would have an out-of-the-way place for you to do such a quick procedure as long as you were careful to catch your drained oil and dispose of it properly.

I have never found it a problem, and I change mine every three thousand miles. I always put a tarp down as insurance against any accidental spills, and most auto specialty stores will take your used oil.

If you use a service facility, you should give them specific instructions on what you want done and check the drain plug and filter when the job is finished. Many facilities offer a plethora of services accompanying the oil change that you may not want them fooling with. Be specific.

If a park does not allow this procedure it may be they have had issues in the past with people leaving a mess. It is no different from businesses offering free parking lot overnight stays. One bad apple can spoil the barrel. We have seen where people have dumped their gray water in Walmart parking lots. It would only take one person to create a mini-oil spill to turn a park owner or manager sour on trying to work with those who want to do a little precautionary maintenance.
--Keep Smilin’. Dr. R.V. Shrink


Anonymous said...

While I prefer to change my own oil at home, the practicality of doing it on the road outweighs the cost factor for me. I follow the trust but verify policy. Check that the plug is secure and in one case I got back and popped the hood and found the fill cap still laying in front of the radiator! Another time they had had overfilled by one quart. Twice in 40 years is not a high rate of failure but enough that I'm inclined to check before venturing out on the road.

George Cederholm said...

The original poster didn't get specific about what type of "big rig" they have, but if it's a large diesel pusher they should consider the commercial service called "Speedco". Users on several of the online forums we subscribe to have reported excellent results at fair prices, plus the ability of the coach owner to watch the maintenance being done to verify that it's done correctly. Prices vary by engine size and, while more expensive than a do-it-yourself job, are definitely less than would be charged at a Cummins/Cat/Detroit dealer. They are generally located with or near truck stops along interstates.

Another option is simply to continue to do it yourself. Check out a Fumoto valve for the oil drain (allows you to start and stop the drain as needed), pick up cheap blue tarps at Harbor Freight, and find space for a couple of oil drain pans in the storage bay. Any Walmart or AutoZone (or equivalent) parking lot can turn into an oil change spot, and you can dispose of the used oil right where you bought the fresh.

Anonymous said...

Another vote for Speedco. Been using them for years. They have a website with locations and pricing. No appointment necessary. Many truckers use them. They not only allow you to watch but ask that you do especially when torquing the drain plug. They also do oil analysis and tire pressure balancing (air lines to all four tires on an axle to get exact same pressure). They also do diesel generators. They stock almost all filters - not air filters. This is for large diesel engines only. We pay about 1/4 what Cummins wants.

Anonymous said...

Fully agree with comments about Speedco for diesel pushers. They insist you listen to the click of the torque wrench as they tighten the oil drain plug after the oil change and the differential fill plug after the diff oil level check. I brought my own filters (bought for a great price at Filterbarn) and figured out their equivalent name brand filters were actually a better buy.