Corvette C6 Z06 – How to Change Your Oil

When it comes to my car I don’t like to take any chances. I do as much of the maintenance as I can myself. So, naturally, I change my own oil. This time I decided to put together a little “how to” guide. If you’re not comfortable working on cars then I suggest you take your vehicle to a competent service center. These instructions are only applicable to C6 model Corvettes (specifically the Z06). Any work you choose do to on your car is done at your own risk. So, let’s get started!

There are a few things you’re going to need. 1) An oil reservoir for used oil (at lest 10 quarts). You can get these pretty much anywhere that sells car care items for around $10. I’ll tell you what to do with your used oil later on. 2) A funnel. I recommend a 2 quart funnel for your oil. These are about $1.

3) 8 quarts of 5W-30 oil (I use Royal Purple). I feel like I need full synthetic w/ my engine modifications but any oil that meets GM’s guidelines can be used. 8 quarts is for the Z06; If you have a coupe refer to your service manual. 4) New oil filter. I just switched to the Bosch 3334 this time so I could use a different kind of filter wrench (more on that in a sec). Anyone competent at a place like AutoZone can help you determine which oil filter you need if you pick a brand other than Bosch.

5) Socket wrench with 13mm head. This will be used to loosen the oil drain plugs. 6) Oil filter wrench. The band wrenches are good, but space around the oil filter can be limited (like on a C6) so I switched over the Bosch filter because I can use the attatchment below on a socket wrench and it’s much easier.

Here are two examples of how the wrenches fit over oil filters.:

7) Rags & paper towel. No matter how careful you are oil is going to spill onto something. 8 ) Here are some optional items you might want to have handy: mallet or hammer & 1 quart ZipLock bag.

So to recap here’s what you need for your oil change:
1) Oil reservoir (at least 10 quarts)
2) Funnel (2 quarts)
3) 8 quarts of 5W-30 oil
4) New oil filter
5) Socket wrench with 13mm head
6) Oil filter wrench
7) Rags
8 ) Mallet or hammer, ZipLock 1 quart bag (both optional)

Please note: This guide doesn’t cover how to lift up your car (see my “How to Lift Your Car” guide coming soon). But you will have to lift your car or have a pit to change the oil on the C6.

Once your car is sufficiently high enough you need to locate the two drain plugs on the oil pan (there is actually a line with two arrow pointing at them). You’ll need to remove both of them, but you can do it one at a time. Also locate the oil filter (see I told you space was tight). The one shown here was my old Mobile1 filter.

Position your oil reservoir below one of the plugs and loosen it. You may need to tap your socket wrench with the mallet or hammer to get it started. Remove the first plug and let the oil drain out. Remove the second plug and let it drain. Let the car drain until nothing comes out but small drops (usually takes about 10- 15 mins). I’m pretty sure most of the C6 Vettes have a magnet on the oil plug tips (it collects random debris floating around in the oil pan). Be sure to wipe off anything that’s been collected.

A quick lifting tip: I have two car jacks so I usually lift up the front end of my car when I start the oil change. But to make sure the car drains as much as possible I pull the jacks out of the front of my car and then move them to the back. Then I move the jacks back to the front. It sounds like a hassle, but it only takes a few extra minutes.

When the oil is all drained put the oil plugs back. The service manual recommends 18lbs of torque but I just tighten them snugly and I’ve never had an issue.

Next is the removal of the oil filter. Position your oil reservoir underneath (because more oil will be coming out). Using your oil filter wrench loosen the filter a bit and then let the oil drain for a moment. Then you can use the ZipLock bag and put it over the filter and unscrew it the rest of the way (yes, it unscrews forever).  Next you put on your new oil filter (some people fill it with oil, but this is optional). Be sure to rub a little bit of oil around the seal on the top of the filter. Screw it in by hand and then give it a quarter turn with your wrench. Be sure not to over tighten the filter.

That’s it for underneath. Wipe up any oil around the drain plugs, the oil filter and your used oil reservoir. Make sure everything is out from beneath your car and lower it to the ground.

Pop your hood and locate the oil cap (it will say “Mobile 1”). The location varies between the coupes and the Z06. Make sure you’re putting the oil in the right place! Put in your funnel and dump in your oil (some people don’t add all the oil at this point, but I do- in fact I add a little extra since I have oil lines running to my turbos). Remember to put your oil cap back on!

Wait a few minutes and then start your car and let it idle for a few minutes. Keep an eye on your oil pressure gauge and look under the car for leaks. Turn off your car and check your oil dipstick to make sure your oil level is okay.

The next step it to reset the oil life indicator. Turn on your car and press the “Trip” button until you reach the “Oil Life Remaining” display.

Then just hold the “Reset” button until the display shows “99%” oil life remaining. Some people will always change their oil after 3000 miles, but I wait until I have less than 20% oil life remaining.  For the most part I feel like you can trust the oil life gauge.

You can take your old oil to any AutoZone and they have a disposal unit you can use for free. Make sure to dispose of your other trash in accordance with your local laws. Clean up your work area, put away your tools and thump your chest.

You’re done! Let the smug satisfaction (stemming from the fact that you did it better than they would have done it) wash over you. Go for an “I’m the man” drive (check for oil leaks again when you get back). Taking good care of your car is an important part of Corvette ownership and there’s nothing better than doing it yourself.

Posted by Cam, August 28, 2011

“Real” Internet.

Know what I hate? Lots of stuff. But do you know what I really hate? Slow Internet. The WWW is a fast place now and bandwidth speed is critical for maximum enjoyment. For the last five or so years we’ve used Qwest DSL. Initially it was fine, but with a download speed off 1.5mbps time has not been kind. Wepages take “forever” to load,  HD video is difficult, and if two people want to watch something (i.e. Hulu & Netflix) forget about it!

Luckily Comcast broadband is finally available in our neighborhood. We switched over this past Monday (Internet & phone) and it’s cheaper than Qwest & much faster. Check out these stats:

“Now is the time, now is the time, now is the best time of your life.” It’s like I’m on my own “Carousel of Progress.”

If you want to run your own test I recommend What kind of Internet speeds do you guys out in Cyberspace have these days?

Also of note, the service from Comcast was great. They came quickly, were professional & friendly, and helped us relocate the modem & router to the basement. After the initial install they came back to bury our cable line and make the connection to our home more discreet.  It looks fantastic (I have no idea how they ran the cable under our driveway).  So, bravo to Comcast.

Posted by Cam, August 20, 2011

Healthcare Reform – August 2011

With regards to weight loss things are going really well. As I write this I’m currently south of 220 and I actually weigh less than when I got married. I’m wearing XL shirts again, my shorts have a 36″ waist and I fit perfectly into my old mission suit. Plus I can run further and faster than ever before.

This journey hasn’t been quick or easy and there’s still a ways to go (probably another 20 pounds or so) but this has been an adventure I will never forget. Mental torture, physical injuries, unyeliding temptation and “impossible” obstables that slowly gave way to adaptive strategies, discovered courage, practiced discipline, clarity, focus, relentless perseverance and unrelenting dedication. In losing myself I have found myself.

Here are some of my personal insights and thoughts about my weight loss experience.

The “Secret” : Super simple-  Change your behavior, hold yourself accountable and don’t stop. Obviously whatever I had been doing had gotten me to the point where I was nearly 300 pounds. Looking back it’s easy to see what it was. 70 and 80 hour work weeks, neglecting any form of physical activity, an extra meal each night at McDonald’s and copious amounts of candy, ice cream and donuts. I was probably eating about 4000+ calories each day.

So I chose to change. It was a simple change at first ( “eat less”). I tried to cut out the extra meals and the snacking. Then I figured out how many calories I was actually eating and how many calories I should be eating. Next I started eating less than I needed (to create a calorie deficit- that’s how you lose weight). I began to count calories to hold myself accountable. Eventually I added simple exercises (walking) to burn more calories and improve my overall health.  I kept track of all my exercise (again to hold myself accountable). Overtime I increased the duration and intensity of my exercise while maintaining my dietary changes. If I had a bad day, I tried again. I never quit. And slowly but surely the weight fell off.

Physical Limitations : One of the things I really struggled with was my body’s inability to do what I felt like it should be doing. Walking gave me blisters, severe chaffing  and hurt my back. Running caused incredibly painful shin splints and ankle issues. Lifting weights caused me joint problems. The discomfort made me want to quit frequently.

In retrospect, I feel like there will always be some initial discomfort, but it would have been better to slow things way down. If you can’t run after a month then you can’t run after a month!  I shouldn’t have tried to run so fast, lift so much and push so hard- it’s not a race. Do I regret the way I did it? Ultimately no, because it worked for me. But I think I made it harder than it needed to be. But that’s kind of my style. [Incidentally most of the physical discomfort is gone at this point].

Also, regarding physical limitations- when I started I don’t think I understood what kind of shape I was in. When I was overweight I had a skewed mental image of myself. Looking at back at pictures of myself from 2007  (I’ll show a few below) I can honestly say that I didn’t know I looked like that. Now when I look at 2007 Cam I think, “Well duh! Of course you couldn’t run an 8 minute mile!” Over time I have learned my limitations- when to push and when to ease up.

Mental Health : The very hardest part of changing was the mental anguish.  Food has always been emotionally satisfying for me. In the past when I was sad I ate. When I was stressed out I ate. And when I was happy- you guessed it- I ate.  And I loved to stuff my face in general. That was satisfying too. I would get the largest sandwich or the biggest ice cream and eat it all- whether I was full or not didn’t matter. When that lifestyle ended my mind reeled with dissatisfaction. I felt deprived and unhappy when I coudn’t have the food I craved.  I felt like I was being robbed of what was mine.

A  healthy relationship with food was critical to my success. I found balance by creating a mentally satisfying challenge. I allotted myself 2000 calories a day (some to meals and some to treats). The gratification of winning the challenge of sticking to a sub 2000 calories a day diet offset my feelings of deprivation. Slowly (it took many months) I overcame my emotional addiction to eating. When I was stressed out or feeling bad I started to exercise instead and it always made me feel better and there was never any guilt afterward.  Over time I learned that I could eat smaller portions and still feel satisfied. I also learned that a balanced diet can include some treats (although some days I don’t even feel like one).

Another thing that I initially struggled with were feelings of failure. Everyone who starts a diet or exercise program begins with the thought, “I can do this.” But the reality for me was that I failed a lot. And it’s mentally challenging to keep trying after repeated failures. But no matter how bad I felt, or how far I fell I kept trying and never quit. Eventually I realized that there would always be failures and set backs, but if I never gave up and set reasonable goals I would come out ahead in the end. Even now I slip up (eat too much, miss a day or exercise, etc) but I never beat myself up because, overall, I’m doing great.

Another issue for me was self image. The brain is a tricky thing! Like I mentioned before, when I look back at the 2007 pictures of myself I’m shocked. When I look at myself in the mirror now I honestly see the same guy I remember seeing when I looked in the mirror back in 2007.  I’m pretty sure my brain was trying to protect me, “You’re fine! You look good! No need to worry!” it told me. As I made progress it was important to keep track of my weight and use photos so I could see my progress. That made it real and positively reinforced my efforts. Additionally, up until recently, I was pretty sure I felt the same now as I had then. But an honest analysis led me to conclude I’m more energetic, happier, friendly, helpful, mobile and confident. It’s still difficult to shift my mental self image!

There are a few general “mental health” benefits that have come from my journey, as well. I feel a great deal of clarity and balance these days. Sure I’m still a little moody (always have been), but I think less so than before. Additionally I feel like I have more mental discipline and focus. And hey, with more blood going to my brain I may actually be smarter than before  too.

Nutrition : I confess that I haven’t put a great deal of effort into the nutritional aspects of my diet, but I have gained some insights. My primary rule was 2000 calories a day and sometimes I used them all on junk (always a mistake). Other days I used them all on healthy and balanced carbs and proteins (never a mistake). What worked best for me was eating things I enjoyed and making sure that I felt full.

Here are a few other things that I’ve learned. 1) Hydration is essential- you never skip water because you’re afraid to gain weight! If you run for ten miles sometimes you need more than water. 2) You need some fats. Don’t be afraid of them! 3) Watch out for foods with a lot of sodium- it can make you bloated and sluggish. 4) Proteins will make you feel full the longest. You can get protein from sources other than meat. 5) Vegetables are low calorie, high fiber, nutritional super foods. Find a way to cook them so they you enjoy them! Add some butter, it’s okay!  6) Eat carbs before exercise and proteins after exercise. 7) Avoid things like hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, etc. Even if you don’t think they’ll hurt you avoiding things that have them will improve your diet. 8 ) You can eat treats (aka “junk food”) as long as you don’t overeat to consume them or burn off the extra calories with additional exercise. 9) Eating at home is healthier than eating out. You can control portions better and you know what you’re eating.  10) Who you hang out with (family, friends) impacts your nutrition.  11) Listen to your body. It can actually tell you what it needs. If you think you’re missing something it’s okay to take a multi-viamin.

Exercise :  I feel like I touched on this a bit in “physical limitations” but I wanted to mention a few other things I learned 1) You never “work through the pain.” If something hurts (I mean really hurts) then back off and find an exercise that doesn’t cause you discomfort.  2) You can’t target an area on the body for weight loss. Weight comes off like it goes on. My stomach was the first thing that got fat and it will be the last thing to get thin! C’est la vie!  3) Exercise is important when you’re loosing weight because you don’t want the weight you lose to be muscle. 4) Never be discouraged by what you can’t do. Set realistic goals and find programs online to follow and you’ll be surprised by what you can do. 5) You really don’t need to join a gym to exercise. Start at home. Start with nothing. Once you get serious upgrade your equipment.

Sustainability : What I didn’t realize initially is that I wasn’t just trying to “diet.” In other words, my goal wasn’t just to lose weight; I wanted to change my life. I didn’t want to gain back the weight I lost. And what I learned to do was make changes that I could live with for the rest of my life. If you make changes that you can’t live with you’ll start to fail more often than you succeed.

Some examples of lifestyle changes: 1) I used to sit in my chair and eat ice cream while I watched TV but now I exercise while I watch my shows. 2) I used to get combo meals at burger joints but now I always skip the fries. 3) Instead of playing video games with my kids we jump on the trampoline. 4) When I start to feel full I simply stop eating and save the rest of the food. 5)  I switched out “bad” comfort foods for healthier alternatives:

A) SoBe Lifewater (0 calories, I drink this instead of soda). B) Arctic Zero (150 calorie one pint protein shake in ice cream form). C) Tofo Shirataki noodles (40 calories in a bag, great in stir-fry!).

Support: One other thing that’s critical to successful change is support. In my case my wife was a huge support. She encouraged me to keep going when I was discouraged, cooked me special meals, cleared my schedule so I had time to exercise and always tried to stay positive. So a huge “thank you!” to my wonderful wife. If you want your lifestyle change to stick then you have to be around people who share the same lifestyle or who willingly accommodate and support yours.

My Next Goal : As I mentioned before I have about another 20 pounds I’d like to lose. That weight will be the hardest- it’s my midsection and moobs and my body doesn’t want to give that weight up without a fight. But it’s going to get a fight alright!  I’m planning to start packing on some muscle in the next month or so and I’m working toward my 6 minute mile. I also want to focus some time on learning more about nutrition and human physiology. And then I’m going to run 21 back to back marathons (No, not really).

Epilogue : Here are a couple pictures of me. First one is 2007 (me & Gabe) and the second one is this past month (also me and Gabe). I have a jawline! [My hair was really falling out back in 2007. I hopped on Propecia in 2008 and it’s really made a difference. Also, in the last four months my hair seems to have thickened up a bit more,  possibly a result of my improved diet. Anyway, that’s why I have more hair now.]

The picture below on the left was also taken in 2007 (I was probably about 290 pounds).  The picture on the right was this past week at the same park (218 pounds). Ideally I would have worn the same shirt…but it doesn’t fit anymore.

Unless you have been on a journey like this you can’t really understand everything that’s involved (it’s very complex). There’s pain and joy, regret but redemption and it’s heartbreaking yet breathtaking. My journey is not over yet, but when I look back I’m so pleased I’ve made it this far. At the onset the path seemed impossible, but now, standing on the path looking back, I feel like I can do anything.

Posted by Cam, August 8, 2011

Update 12/3/2017: I got fat again the year following this post. As far as I can tell I tipped the scales at an impressive 291 almost exactly four years ago. However, I’m pleased to report that I’m back down to about 215 now and feeling good!