Blood, sweat and oil filters

This was supposed to be a quick and simple post on how easy it is to give a 2009 Mitsubishi CJ Lancer an oil and filter change. Well it was supposed to be. However what should have been an hour and a bit job turned into a six and a half hour wrestling match and only ended when we broke out some fire…

2009 Mitsubishi Lancer oil change

On any given day this is an easy job and if you’re as scrawny as I am, it can be done parking just over an incline and squirrelling under the car without the need of jacking it up. While there’s a plastic under tray you can remove (5 x 10mm bolts) you really don’t have to because there’s a square opening in it with enough room to access both the drain plug (17mm) and the oil filter which points down directly in front of the sump.

2009 Mitsubishi Lancer oil change
All going well, you can reach up for the oil filter here

Mitsubishi Lancer Oil change

It’ll need 4 litres of 5W-30 synthetic, a filter like the Ryco z411 and a crush washer like the Tridon TSW021 above. Oh and something to dump the oil in naturally. And so with everything in place, I drained the oil and cleaned the inside of the car while I waited (wife’s car and I figured she’d appreciate it). The trouble appeared when I tried to get to the filter off…

Because the last time it was replaced the mechanic we used must have impact wrenched it in so tightly, nothing short of divine intervention was going to get it out again. Forget hand tight, this was act of god tight. This was tax man grip on your refund cheque tight. This was tighter than tight and given the lack of room to get various implements up and around it, things went south in no time flat.

What I tried

-My hands. Got nowhere, decided to try tools instead.

-A spin on filter cup. After a 15 min walk to the shops, the helpful bloke at Repco looked to see what would fit a 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer oil filter and he was spot on, this one fit perfectly. But guess what it didn’t fit? The old filter. So not only was it tighter than tight, it was undersized compared to the recommended one. Holy hell..

Lancer Oil change Mitsubishi Lancer oil change

-Running out of time I had to walk to the school to pick the kids up in time and then back to Repco for round 2. I had something like this years ago for the Rx7 from memory but now it’s somewhere in Baz’s shed because it couldn’t squeeze in to where that filter was mounted. Would it work this time?

Yeah no.

Awkward to use, couldn’t grip properly because the filter was starting to buckle. And that’s because I’d gone to my usual last result before running out to buy tools and that was something that’s seen a lot of use previously in filter removal:

Hammer into the side of the filter, twist slowly when in moving the filter counter clockwise to remove easily. This tried has never failed until now. Because instead of turning, the base of the filter stayed where it was while the rest of it twisted, buckled and fell to pieces like a four hour long car accident. I’ve never seen a filter that’s held on for dear life and yet still spill it’s contents so easily. And in no time flat, it was empty and mangled…and still on.

Mitsubishi Lancer oil change

By the time we’d got to this stage I’d managed to cut my fingers on a twisted bit and was now adding literally blood to the sweat and the tears. Now I was covered in dirt, grime, old oil and bleeding all over the place. Cursing the mechanic who’d essentially locked it in there, I did what younger me would never consider and I stopped. I went back inside and got the kids to fish out a band aid, reassuring them that dad was okay. Then I announced that we were walking two blocks down the street not to back back to Repco, but instead to Happy Cat Donuts. Tired, frustrated and filthy, I knew I had to step away before I did any further damage and a trip to the Donut van would be a big help and a vital break, especially given how useless I was now feeling after failing to do what should have been a really easy bit of car maintenance.

On the way to the donut van, I put a post up on Facebook to see if anyone in the neighbourhood to help. And while no one was free, they did offer up some suggestions which I really appreciated.

Thankfully on the way home with hot donuts in hand, I ran into the man I was really hoping to see – Andrew from across the road. Owner of a classic Ford, I figured he’d have a better idea than I did and mere seconds after asking if he had any mechanical advice for me at this stage, he was under the car having a poke about.

‘This is ridiculous! Why did they made it so tight??’ He asked and I wished I knew. To annoy me and anyone else trying to take it off again?

He ventured into his workshop and came back with pliers and a hammer and chisel and got to work but it didn’t budge. ‘Yep, this is crazy.’ If anything at that stage I was feeling slightly better about the whole predicament because if a seasoned home mechanic like him with far more experience than me is saying something like that then I wasn’t missing anything in my own efforts.

After an hour tooling away and trying everything from multi grips to cir clip pliers to the three prong again to no avail, a handy mate rang him out of the blue and being a mechanical engineer, Andrew finally got an answer to a literal burning question.

‘Can I apply heat to this thing?’

It turns out he could. I missed the flash point part of the conversation but applied in the right spot without melting through anything else, Andrew’s usual trick for anything stubborn could be applied here. And so a tool I didn’t have was brought forth: (similar to this one)

And after a couple of attempts and some acrobatic chisel work (my back just hurt watching him) the remains heated up just enough for some give and the hammer finished it off. Now the last part of the destroyed filter could join it’s twisted and busted brethren.

I’ve never been curious enough to want to know what’s in an oil filter but now I have a pretty good idea.

Dead filter by Valvoline, blood is model’s own

The aftermath

The new filter took all of 30 seconds to spin on and was done up hand tight. Five minutes later the four litres of oil was in and staying in. Andrew waved off any and all offers of beer, wine or scotch as a thank you saying he was happy to help. So today (the day after) I dropped off a six pack of beer to his house while he was out and asked his lovely wife to pass on my thanks. I got a ‘You really didn’t have to’ as expected but he spent over an hour helping me out and did what I couldn’t, saving the day (because we’ve got a big drive in this thing on the weekend) so beer was the least I can do.

I will still forever curse the mechanic that wedged this filter on though. Especially after waking up scarred and bruised this morning from spending hours squirming under a car. Hand tight people, like they should be (and don’t forget to lubricate the rubber ring with some oil before it goes on too!)

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