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Matthew Wright

Men vs. Women: The Oil Change

By August 4, 2008

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No matter what side of the chromosomal match you stand on, there's no denying that men and women have different ways of going about the same task. There's a reason for the old tale of the man refusing to ask for directions -- it's true. Never is the difference more apparent than in the case of the oil change. Here's a play-by-play of the man-vs-woman oil change.


  1. Stop at Starbuck's on the way to the Super-Lube, order a decaf skim latte but go for a dab of whipped cream because you've been good.
  2. Sit in waiting room watching CNN and sipping delicious coffee drink.
  3. Twenty minutes later, pay with AMEX for the Sky Miles and leave with the job done and the whole day ahead of you.
  1. Go to AutoZone and drop $47 for oil, a new filter, kitty litter, and a talking tire gauge (damned impulse-buy rack gets you every time).
  2. Go home, drive car onto oil change ramps and change into your college game-day shirt, which now feels like a size extra-medium.
  3. Discover you forgot to empty your last oil change from the oil container, so drive to back of Super-Lube and beg them to take your old oil. Get dirty look from 17-year-old punk and tell yourself what you'd do to him if he was 18.
  4. Drive home, back on ramps, then detour to fridge for a cold one.
  5. Gather tools and slide newly-emptied recycling container under oil pan. Realize you grabbed the wrong spanner to remove the oil drain plug, so you decide to use Vise-Grips since you're already on your back.
  6. Unscrew drain plug, but fumble with it and soak forearm in not-quite-cool-yet motor oil. Lose drain plug in recycle container since you removed the screen to use for your failed bio-diesel lawnmower experiment.
  7. Have another cold drink to mourn failed bio-diesel lawnmower experiment and wait for oil to drain from engine.
  8. Look for oil filter wrench, but give up and stab filter with a screwdriver, then twist it off. Install new oil filter, making sure to apply a thin layer of new oil to the gasket.
  9. Almost done, remove oil cap and pour first quart into engine. Quickly realize your forgot to replace the oil drain plug. Race to reinstall plug with wrong wrench and skin knuckles on motor mount. Bang head on A-arm in reaction.
  10. Shoot across driveway on creeper and begin cussing fit. Throw wrenches into yard, then crawl through flower bed trying to find correct wrench for oil drain plug. Time for another cold drink (yeah, we mean beer).
  11. Tighten plug and add remaining oil. Watch wife pull into driveway with the smug look of efficiency on her face. Carry groceries into house. Smile, she bought more beer.
Of course, all of that can be avoided by checking out our tutorial on changing your own oil. There's no substitute for good preparation.
August 5, 2008 at 11:34 am
(1) Michele says:


For your X chromosome readers who don’t have a Starbucks nearby, (yes, there are still some areas that have only one within a twenty mile radius) might I suggest getting their nails done. Really yanks the chain of our Y counterparts as we hand them a band aid for that busted knuckle.


August 5, 2008 at 1:03 pm
(2) Keith says:

Um, after reading this I’ve discovered I’m half man/half woman. Won’t change my own oil, but wouldn’t be caught dead in a Starbucks. However, I am adapt at using the wrong tool for the job.

August 5, 2008 at 4:07 pm
(3) mikey says:

two months ago I paid “for the first time” someone to change oil in a car that I own. I felt sick to my stomach all the way to the DEALERSHIP and back home. Well is almost time for the Murano to be changed again. Yes I am doing it. if she dont like she can drive to th dealership. I just cant let someone else work on my car, truck, motorhome, tractor …lawnmower etc.

August 5, 2008 at 6:57 pm
(4) Paul says:

I use to do all my own oil/filter changes, but with the SUV I get free for life of ownership and the Miata at the dealer is only $19.95 for dino oil and $39.95 for synthetic, so why get my hands dirty. I still change the Harley cause it costs a hell of alot more, and it is easy.

August 5, 2008 at 9:28 pm
(5) stoopid says:

When do your own oil changes you know it’s been done right. Wonder how many places over fill or under fill your motor.

I paid way to much for my cars to let some moron change the oil.

I have 5 cars so I just have an oil change day and it’s done

August 6, 2008 at 8:02 am
(6) Patti says:

Hey! I’m a woman who changes her own oil. Especially when I had my cherished diesel pickup. I just didn’t trust those quickie lube guys – heard too many horror stories. I also feel a certain intimate bond with my vehicles when I get know what’s under the hood.

August 6, 2008 at 3:02 pm
(7) Craig says:

For the guy portion, they forgot to add the part where in his haste to get drain plug in, he cross threads the sucker. Ouch, now things are getting REALLY expen$ive!

Seriously, I have done all the work on my 8 vehicles for over 40 years. Tire changes, alignments, engine and tranny rebuilds. Nothing scares me. Whenever I hear friends horror stories about a mechanic or a shop, I smile and tell them, I NEVER have arguments with my mechanic and I always get a quality job ;-) .

August 8, 2008 at 11:07 am
(8) mispiston says:

I LOVE working on anything that has a moving part or usually non-moving, just one reason why I working on it in the 1st place! Especially restores (‘there’s no replacement for displacement’) as the classics are going the way of T-Rex. That said, because I have to haul the used oil to a great repair shop for recycling (you DIY guys&chicks recycle, right? NO flames thank you, just a reminder), and know the guys there, I just let them pull the plug and pump the amber stuff. Thirty minutes later I’m outta there (10 minutes for the change/ 20 minutes to BS & to benefit from their knowledge & experience). Every once in a awhile I’ll cut open the filter (yea, yea, I know you need several consecutive samples, etc., but we’re not talking Formula One here). I figure it’s the best of both worlds. And they DO appreciate being able to talk shop with a female-type person, for WHATEVER reason!

August 11, 2008 at 6:48 pm
(9) Mary Schmidt says:

Great piece!

And, you’ve almost got it – I stop at a locally owned place for a real coffee (no whipped cream – all straight black caffeine!) Then I drive to Albuquerque Qwik Lube – and catch up on magazine reading (they always have the most recent issues of People and such.)

For the record, I know how to change my oil, I just don’t want to. I spend enough time fixing (really expensive) things around the house as it is.

August 26, 2008 at 7:53 am
(10) Tony Morah says:

Gee, I want to say, “Eureka, I found it..” Yes, I finally helped my mechanic solve the nagging problem of “Check Engine light” affliction that has plagued my 97 Toyota Camry LE for 3 yearsnow and some $500 or sp down the drain in repair shop diagnosis gamble and parts and extended state emmission test dates.
After replacing the upper and lower stream 02 sensors and the Evaporator sensors on the firewall just above the brake fluid cup and not solving the problem, I urged my mechanic to check the vehicle only charcoal canister. He did and 250 miles later the nagging light disappered for good. I went through State Emmission test and passed with flying colors.
Unlike me you should replace the charcoal canister in your car first if you are having the same engine light fiasco. In fact, you can do it yourself. Just make sure you don’t throw away your old canister before you know that was not the culprit. Ask your junk yard dealer for a used charcoal canister. It costs about $100 with lifetime warranty at our local Brandywine auto parts in MD. No exchange needed. Give them a call today. Tell then Tony sent you.

June 19, 2009 at 2:03 am
(11) RustyWrench says:

After gallons of carcinogenic fossil-based automotive engine lubricant (better known as
engine oil) streaming down my arms, soaking my clean shirt, spilling on the driveway, and after-temporarily–forgetting to reinstall the oil drain plug numersous times, I have evolved into a modern (older, but wiser) man that leaves the dirty work to the grease monkeys! (Thank God for Jiffy Lube!) Now–where’s my latte?

June 23, 2009 at 11:08 am
(12) Dusty says:

Synthetic oil- Mobil One at least- is available in 5 quart jugs. The cost is about the same as maybe 3 and 1/2 quart bottles; the price at Wal-Mart is even better.

If you cross-thread or strip the threads in the drain plug a simple kit is available usually from the parts store to ream, re-thread, new over-size plug.

Politically incorrect: If a woman, the cuter the better, needs directions the guys will fall over themselves to do the best they can. If a guy is lost, he deserves to be led even more astray. The guys know this but we know we are not supposed to say it.

October 27, 2010 at 10:18 am
(13) Aytes says:

thats a crock! I change my own oil! have been ever since i was 15! I am attending auto class right now and changing oil isn’t hard!

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