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Pelican Technical Article:

Oil Change

Jared Fenton


1 hour1 hr






19mm wrench, oil filter wrench, drain pan of at least 7-quart capacity, floor jack, jack stands, wheel chocks, safety glasses, torque wrench

Applicable Models:

VW Jetta GL (1999-05)
VW Jetta GLS (1999-05)
VW Jetta Wolfsburg (1999)

Parts Required:

Oil, oil filter, drain plug

Hot Tip:

Let the engine warm up before draining oil

Performance Gain:

Cleaner running engine

Complementary Modification:

Change transmission fluid

One of the most common tasks to perform is replacing your engine oil. Frequent oil changes are perhaps the most important procedure you can do to maintain and prolong the life of your engine. However, with the better oils that are available today, the requirement for frequent changes is diminishing. I usually recommend that you keep the changes under the 5,000-mile limit. If you don't drive your car too often, you should change the oil at least once a year to keep things fresh.

You'll want to drive the car around beforehand, and let it heat up to operating temperature. It is a good idea to empty your oil when it's hot, because the heat makes the oil flow a lot easier, and more particles of metal and dirt will come out when the oil is emptied.

Jack up the front of the car and secure it on jack stands to gain access to the oil drain bolt at the back edge of the oil pan. See our article on jacking up your Jetta for more information. Wear safety glasses any time you work under your car. Now use a 19mm wrench to loosen and remove the oil drain bolt. Remove this plug carefully and make sure you have a large oil pan: at least a 7-quart capacity - under it, with a drip pan under the bucket in case you underestimate. The oil will be very hot, and will empty out extremely quickly, so be careful not to burn yourself (wear rubber gloves). There will be no time to grab any more buckets or oil pans if you underestimate, so make sure that the one you choose is big enough.

While the oil is draining, it is a good time to remove the oil filter. The Jetta uses a spin on type filter on the front of the engine. You may need to use an oil filter wrench to get it loose. When installing the new filter, wet the sealing ring with some fresh oil to help it seal better. Spin the filter on and tighten it by hand plus 3/4 of a turn. Do not use a wrench.

Now take the drain plug from the engine, and carefully clean it with a paper towel. When the plug is clean, replace the metal sealing ring. Install the drain plug. Tighten the plug until you feel it seat.

Now it's time to fill up your VW with motor oil. A lot of people aren't really sure what motor oil to use in their car. Traditionally, the characteristics of motor oil were linked closely to its weight. Heavier-weight oils protect well against heat. Lighter-weight oils flow better in cold. In general, if you live in a cold climate, you should use a 0W-40 or similar oil. This oil is a 0-weight oil that behaves and protects against heat like a 40-weight oil.

Fill your engine from the oil filler hole located on the right side of the valve cover. Remember that you determine the side of the car from the perspective of sitting in your car. Add about four quarts to the engine, Let the oil drain into the engine for about five minutes and check the dipstick. Continue to add about a half a quart at a time and keep checking the level (total capacity should be about 4.7 quarts). Fill it up until it reaches the top mark of the dipstick or gauge - the engine oil level will automatically lower when the oil filter fills up with oil. Make sure that you put the oil filler cap back on the top of the filler hole. While you're at it, also check the seal in the oil filler cap. A vacuum leak in this cap will cause rough running when you go to start the engine.

If you had the car up on jack stands, lower it down to the ground. Now, start up the engine. The oil pressure light should stay on for about a second or two and then go out. Hop out of the car and look at the engine underneath. Then take a quick look underneath the car. Verify that there's no volume of oil seeping out of the engine. Take the car out for a drive and bring it up to operating temperature. Shut the car off and then recheck the oil level (careful, the car will be hot). At this point, I like to top the oil off at the top point on the dipstick. Make sure that you dispose of your old oil at a recycling station. Most chain auto parts stores will also accept used oil.

The oil drain bolt (green arrow) is located on the bottom edge of the oil pan near the rear.
Figure 1

The oil drain bolt (green arrow) is located on the bottom edge of the oil pan near the rear. Use a 19mm wrench (green arrow) to loosen and remove the bolt. Wear gloves as the oil will be hot. You'll also want a drain pan with at least seven quarts capacity to collect the oil.

Shown here is the oil filter for the VW 2.
Figure 2

Shown here is the oil filter for the VW 2.0L (green arrow). You may need to use an oil filter wrench to loosen the filter. When installing the new filter. Wet the sealing ring with fresh oil. This helps to seal the filter. When tightening the filer, make sure you hand tighten it plus about three quarters of a turn with the oil filter wrench.

Now use a funnel to fill the engine with new synthetic oil.
Figure 3

Now use a funnel to fill the engine with new synthetic oil. I prefer to fill one quart at a time and let it sit for a minute or two. This allows you to get the level just right. 4.7 quarts are needed in all. As for brands of oil to use and for the grade, consult your owner's manual.

Once filled, check the dipstick to confirm the oil level in the engine.
Figure 4

Once filled, check the dipstick to confirm the oil level in the engine. It should reach to the top of the marks as shown here (green arrow).

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Page last updated: Mon 1/15/2018 03:50:23 AM