Saturday, March 30, 2013

B8 Audi S4 (2012) DIY Oil change

This is a pretty easy DIY guide for changing the engine oil in your B8 Audi S4. It's fairly straightforward to change the oil in the S4, since the oil filter is right up top. In fact, if you use an oil extractor, you don't even need to get underneath the car!

But based on general feedback I got from people who are much better informed about such things, I decided to go with the traditional (but messy) drain plug method. I've done oil changes on my Jetta in the past, so this isn't entirely new to me, but I'm by no means an expert. If I can do this, most of you can! Also, I'm not responsible for anything good/bad that may happen to you/your car as a result of following this guide. Hopefully you have all of Baby Jesuses blessings! 

What you need:
1. 7-7.5 qts oil (Mobil 1 0W-40 in my case)
2. Oil Filter (MANN HU 722z, which is basically the exact same as the OWM minu the Audi logo)
3. Trolley Jacks (or ramps, if you have those)
4. A phillips screwdriver
5. A 36mm socket
6. T35 Torx head screwdriver
7. Nose plier
8. Something to catch and hold the used oil (I used a Hefty 6.5 qts container)
9. Plenty of rags/paper towels
10. Crush washers for the drain plug (I got these from the dealership. Audi of Stevens Creek was nice enough to just give me a couple!) 
11. A decent playlist and possibly some beer :)

Before you start off, make sure you cover parts around the hood with towels, just so that you don't accidentally touch the car with dirty/oily hands. In my case, this was a bit moot thanks to the MASSIVE amounts of pollen bombing, combined with rain.

With that aside, let's get started with the oil change!

1. Pop the hood open first. Then, jack the car up, or drive it up the ramp. Make sure the car is secure and you've use the correct mount points for the jacks. After this, make sure you unscrew and open the engine oil cap and remove the dipstick (if you've installed one like me. If not, just remove the oil cap)

2. Next, we need to remove the under-body panel that covers the front end. The panel is held together by 11 phillips screws; two right up front, 3 on the other end and 3 on each side (near the front wheels). The 3 at the rear of the panel remain attached to the panel and will NOT drop off even after unscrewing them

3. Now that you've removed the under-body panel. the oil pain (and therefore, the drain plug) should be clearly visible.

Once you've located the drain plug, place the oil catch container and plenty of paper towels or rags underneath the drain plug. This CAN get VERY messy if you've not done this before and are not prepared for it.


4. Once the container and rags are in place, go ahead and use the T35 torx head to unscrew the drain plug. I had some trouble getting this out as it was screwed on very tight. Be careful when exerting ape-shit crazy force, especially if the car is on jacks! It didn't help that I had a bit of a brain fart moment and got the clockwise/anti-clockwise directions mixed up...

Remember to quickly unscrew the drain bolt to avoid getting oil all over your arms! Once this is done, watch your S4 let loose the juice! Given that there's close to 7 quarts in there, it will take some time to drain completely. Take a break. Grab some stout and pat yourself on the back...the hard part's done!

You need to wait until the time interval between consecutive drops is great than 5 secs...again, this will take some time. Once 99.99% of the oil has been drained, take a couple of paper towels and clean the area around the drain plug thoroughly

5. Next, replace the old crush washer from the drain plug with a new one. Once this is done, use the T35 head once again to screw the drain bolt back tightly, but make sure you don't overdo it, especially if the car is on jacks!

6. After this, you need to screw the under-body panel back in place. Frankly, I found this to be the most annoying and cumbersome part of the entire process! The screw threads are very shallow, making it very difficult to hold the panel in place while you work on it. From my experience, start with screwing back the 2 screw in the front. then the sides and then the rear

7. That wraps up the under-the-car-and-therefore-annoying-part of it. Carefully release the jacks. If you've used ramps, don't drive the car off them yet! We now need to replace the oil filter. The oil filter housing is near the back of the engine, on the right side. Wrap it with some rags or a couple of paper towels. A good bit of Oil WILL drip out when you remove the filter

8. Use the 36mm socket wrench to unscrew the oil filter housing cap. NOTE: I had a tough time getting hold of a 36mm socket. The PepBoys, Harbor Freight and AutoZone near me did not have this! Luckily, the Sears about 3 miles away did, although only for a 1/2 inch drive wrench (I had a 3/8 incher). So I went ahead an bought a 1/2" drive wrench along with the socket

9. Once fully unscrewed, quickly (but carefully) pull the housing out and place the cartridge on some rags or paper towels. Carefully screw out the filter cap from the actual filter; you might have to use a little force to separate them

10. Now, emoe the rubber O-ring that's inside the filter housing. There should be a small tab that you can use a nose plier to grab and pull out the O-ring. Replace this with the new tabbed O-ring that comes with the filter. Before putting it back into the housing, remember to coat the new O-ring in some oil and then install it with the tab facing UP. Screw the new filter element back into the housing

NOTE: The filter came with a second, thinner, non-tabbed O-ring. I did not see a second O-Ring while removing the filter and trying to attached it around the neck of the housing (as suggested in another guide) prevented me from screwing the filter back on tight. I ended up not using it

11. Now, it's simply a matter of pouring in the good stuff into the engine! Unfortunately a funnel doesn't really work with the S4, given how shallow the inlet is (and the fact that there are some mechanicals inside that obstruct the opening). Remember to pour the oil in nice and slow to prevent creating a mess!

Once I'm done with each bottle, I make sure to seal it back tight and let it rest up-side down while I go through other bottles. At the end, I slowly open each bottle (while up-side down) and see that there's at least a cap full of oil in each bottle. This, times 7, adds up!

12. That's it! I filled in about 7 quarts, closed the oil cap tight and set off on a short test drive. After letting the oil heat up to a reasonable temperature (70-odd deg C...which you can check in the MFD if you've enabled it through VCDS), I shut the engine off and check the oil level with the dipstick. If you didn't install the dipstick, you can use the MMI to confirm the oil level. To do this, shut down the car and turn the ignition on again (without actually starting the engine). Wait for about 3 minutes. Now check the MMI and you should see the current oil level. If it looks good, go grab yourself another Ale! If it's short of full, remember to top it up before you go grab your ale! :)

If you already have all the tools, you've saved yourself a good bit of change. The dealerships here in th Bay Area were quoting anywhere between $130 and $150 for the oil change. With the $12 MIR rebate currently going on on Amazon for the Mobil 1 0W-40, I scored 12 quarts for about $76. Including the cost of the wrench and socket I had to buy this time, I came in at $110 total. That's still $20-40 cheaper than a dealership, with much better oil AND the satisfaction of having done a good job yourself. Honestly, I don't do this to save money. I just enjoy working on the car and making sure that it's taken care of well. Hope folks found this DIY guide useful! :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

DIY: VW Jetta/Golf MKV 2.5L Oil Change

Alright, so this is my guide to changing the engine oil and the oil filter in the MKV Jetta 2.5L. This was the very first time I did this by myself and as such it took much longer than I had hoped for/expected. That being said, I do enjoy DIY-ing stuff and definitely enjoy working with cars.

Another point I'd like to raise before actually going ahead with the guide is that if you're planning on doing a oil change just to save money, depending on your car make/model, I would first seriously shop around dealers and independents for good prices. My local VW dealer had a synthetic oil change special (the usual 5 quarts + filter) for $59.99 a week or so ago. Even at $69-79.99, the savings aren't obvious. The savings certainly add up in the long run (especially if you change your oil+filter every 5000 miles/6 months, like me), but for me, it was more about the fun of doing it myself and more importantly, the knowledge that I've put in the best possible oil and filter and did everything "right". To add finally, the usual disclaimer; I've written this guide purely to help folks out, based on my own experience. I'm not responsible for anything good/bad that may happen to you/your car as a result of following this guide. May the force be with you! :)

Moving forward, you'll need the following tools/items to make the process as straightforward and easy as possible:

  1. Torx (T25) screw driver (one with a swivel head highly recommended)
  2. Ratchet with a size 19 socket
  3. An oil wrench (or an oil filter cup for a wrench, size 74/76)
  4. Oil filter (HU 719/6 X)
  5. A funnel 
  6. Jack (more on this below)
  7. Rags and a few newspapers (fashioned a 'mat' out of some old newspapers)
  8. Gloves
  9. Drain pan capable of holding up to 6.5 qts (preferably a shallow one, especially if you don't jack the car up) 

 Regarding the use of the jack, strictly speaking, it isn't required. That being said however, I recommend jacking up the car (especially if this is your first time) just so that you get a MUCH better view of the exact location of the parts you'll be working with and some much needed room to maneuver. Once you get the hang of it the first couple of times though, you'll be able to reach out without the car jacked up. I've also read in other guides where people have said that the jack that comes with the car is not recommended. Frankly, I went ahead and used the standard jack with no issues, but then again, I do realize that a 3230 lbs Jetta on my face wouldn't be a big loss for the world either... :p

Step 1: Open up the hood/bonnet and open up the oil cap to help drain the oil. Next, once you've jacked up the car (if you decided to jack up that is), the first thing you need to do is to remove the under-body cover that, well, covers the front under portion of the car. This is fairly easy using a T25 torx head screw driver (especially with a swivel head). If you don't have a swivel head screwdriver and have decided to not jack the car up, you might have some clearance issues, depending on the length of the screw driver stalk.

There are 8 screws in total that need to be unscrewed for you to be able to remove the under-body cover (done so by sliding the cover towards the back of the car, after all 8 screws have been removed). Do note that there are 8 other torx screws right up front, securing the front bumper. You do not need to remove these!


Step 2: With the cover now removed, you should be able to see the oil filter housing clearly.


The oil filter housing cap will be attached to a little plastic lanyard which can be detached simply by pushing it into the bigger hole. Once this is done, using the oil wrench, remove the filter housing by securing it and rotating the wrench counter-clockwise. There isn't much room to make a complete rotation, so make sure the wrench holds on to the housing securely before you try and move it. A few firm rotations should get it loose. Make sure you have some rags or an oil pan in place before you remove the oil filter housing completely.

NOTE: You may first want to unscrew the little circular piece at the bottom, to which the lanyard was attached. This will show an orange rubber nipple which can be pushed away to drain the oil in the housing. I however chose to remove the filter housing directly anyway. This is definitely messier, but quicker.

Step 3: With the oil filter now removed and having drained all the oil from the housing, we now need to locate and unscrew the oil drain plug. The oil pan can be identified as a black tub-like structure. The drain plug is located right behind it (facing towards the rear of the car).

Using the size 19 socket, ratchet out the drain plug, rotating counter-clockwise. Ensure that you have rags and the oil drain pan placed correctly below the drain plug. Once the drain plug has been unscrewed completely, let the oil drain out completely. Store the drain plug (and the crush washer) safely after cleaning it thoroughly to remove any possible debris. 

NOTE: You will need to change the drain plug (and the crush washer) at least every alternate oil change, if not every time. The part number for the drain plug is N 908-132-01 in case you need to order it.

Step 4: With the oil draining out, now it's time to replace the oil filter and the O-ring in the filter housing. The new filter you purchased should come with a new rubber ring. I picked up an OEM Mann HU719/6X from Amazon.

 You can remove the old filter from the housing by screwing it out; this is fairly easy. Following this, drain out any excess oil that might still be in the housing. Following this, you'll need to replace the rubber O-ring seal at the top of the filter housing. You might need to wedge a flat-head screwdriver against the small tab to remove the rubber ring.

Step 5: With the old filter and rubber O-ring removed, you need to put the new O-ring in. Before you do this, lightly dab the new ring with some fresh oil and then put the new ring in. This ensures a uniform and perfect seal when the housing is put back. Following this, screw the new oil filter in slowly. Once this is done, make sure to fill the housing about half-way through with some fresh oil. Remember to not fill more than half the housing as any excess will spill out when the housing is put back. This step ensures that the engine is not starved of oil, even for a couple of seconds, when it is first started after the oil change.

Step 6: After the new filter has been put in place in the housing along with the new rubber ring, we need to put the oil filter housing back where it belongs. This is fairly straightforward and you can hand-screw it back (clockwise) most of the way and then use the oil wrench to further tighten it. For the anal-retentive, you need to tighten it up to 25 Nm of torque. Following this, you also need to tighten back (clockwise) the drain plug. Do not put the front under-body cover back yet. 

Step 7: After securing the oil filter and the drain plug, it is now time to pour in the fresh oil. This time, I used Mobil 1 Synthetic 0W-40. This oil meets the VW 502.00/505.00/503.01 specs. I selected this oil over the standard 5W-40 recommendation purely because of the driving conditions my Jetta is put through; frequent cold starts and very short driving distances (often barely enough to heat the engine up). This is also the reason why I replace the oil every 5000 miles/6 months. 

I filled in 5 quarts of Mobil 1 0W-40. Following this, secure the oil cap in place and start the car. Let the engine run until it's warm. Following this, turn the ignition off and check the oil level on the dip stick. Top up if needed. Also check below the car to ensure there are no oil leaks. Once this has been confirmed, you can secure the under-body cover by sliding it in place and screwing in the 8 torx screws.

Step 8: You now need to reset the service reminder. The procedure described next is for cars without the MFD. If you do have a car equipped with the MFD (most SE and above Jetta's/Golf's), Google is your friend! :) For the rest of us 'simple' folks, get in the car and close the door. Put the key in the ignition (do not turn yet). Hold the trip reset button and turn the ignition; the service interval 'wrench' icon will now show up. While still holding the trip reset button, press the 'minute' button. The service reminder will now be reset for another 5000 miles.

 Step 9: Funnel back all the used oil into the empty oil bottles for safe disposal. This can get a bit messy if you try to hurry through. Most AutoZone's should accept used oil for disposal. 

The oil change is now done! Enjoy your VW Jetta/Golf 2.5! The 2.0L Turbo found in a few other VW's/Audi's follows a very similar process, with very minor differences. I will update/add to this guide when I change oil in the Eos next! :)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Why Open Source sucks.

Bewarned Open Source fanboys, I am most definitely prejudiced and biased against Open Source software, with a vengeance. Whatever I say and state in this blog is my opinion which you most certainly don't have to agree with. 

With that disclaimer out of the way, just to reaffirm my stand; Open Source Software sucks. I sincerely wish I could make an honest and genuine effort to try and convince you as to why I feel so, but from my experience talking to people about technology in general over the last 10 years or so has made me realize one very important point; (most) believers in the Open Source movement think of themselves as elitists of some kind or the other. They feel they have to do things differently, just because they can. If you try and reason otherwise, with a group of such people, be prepared to invite their disdain and repeatedly be called a "n00b".

And I say this out of experience as a geek, student and now a professional. I have tried on multiple occasions to dip my teacup into the simmering open source pool, to get a taste of some of the eclectic concoctions it claims to offer. However, time and again, I have had to try very hard to rid myself of the utter bitterness it left behind. Be it installing and using a Linux distro on my netbook for everyday use, trying and running some kind of an open source simulator in Linux for my assignments or getting an open source tool to work with or test an application I have word can sum up the collective experience; clusterf***. That is exactly how I end up feeling after trying to work with most open source applications.

Most. You see, until some time ago, I always used to try and justify the existence and general enthusiasm for open source software by its ability to get things done, even though I myself never found them to be less than painful. To the end user, it doesn't matter how it is done, as long as it is done. This thought process could justify using open source frameworks, applications and tools to build what the end user wouldn't have to see or interact with, the back-end. And this is true because it would be very difficult to find a website not running off of some permutation or combination of Apache, Drupal, MySQL, PHP etc. However, currently having to work with these very open source technologies to get the job done is proving to be akin to playing with a hornets nest. To be fair, there is a learning curve associated with any new endeavor you may set out on and although I don't have any real-world numbers to compare and contrast actual performance, I guess it would also be safe to say that open source applications are far leaner than their proprietary counterparts, and definitely cheaper (if not free). However, these advantages almost always come at a price. A price that is paid by the end user in terms of usability and a price paid by me as a developer in terms of compatibility and just getting things done. When this lean-mean-open-source-machine starts eating into your productivity, it becomes hard to justify its performance and cost advantages.

Let me give you an example. I had to test some scripts today. Normally, this would entail downloading and installing some executable the tool comes packed in and spending the majority of the time actually testing scripts. I would have positively wet my pants with joy if things had gone this way. Instead, I had to use an open-source tool (PHPUnit) to get the job done and at the end, I got everything but the job done! 

You see, after reading up on less than helpful (for the beginner) manuals and documentation, I realized I had to download and install the latest PHP binary on my machine to get PHPUnit up and running. After spending time reading up and deciding which one of the 4 available versions I had to get, I went along with the installation. But by now you'd have guessed it wasn't going to be that simple, right? Right! You see, for some inexplicable reason beyond the grasp of us mere mortals who haven't laid ourselves bare at the altar of the open-source gods, the installer package for PHP does not come with a library file needed to install PHPUnit, even though it is required, to go through with the installation! Maybe the elite open-source gurus found some way around using that particular library? Who knows (and cares!)...for not a single forum or board meant as a support resource for PHP knew jack-squat. It is by pure chance I figured out that the Zip package of the very same version of PHP, from the very same website contained the required file!! After extracting the files, I searched around for clues of anything remotely to do with PHPUnit itself. Nope. Nada. I apparently had to run some PHP script which would in turn pull out PHPUnit from something called a PHP Extension and Application Repository (PEAR) channel. However, some component needed to run PHPUnit had to be download from some other channel. I followed the steps to get the required components from both the channels. But it didn't let me. Apparently, the version of the PEAR installer I had (the version included in the latest binary on the PHP website FYI) was seemingly old. I first had to update it. And how do you update it? Call another PHP script that pulls out the latest version from some other PEAR channel!! I finally got, what looked like PHPUnit, running, after a good hour and 15 mins of scratching my hair and a lot of other things! Time I could have otherwise spent actually working.

And cases like this are far more the norm than the exception. There are very very few Open Source applications out there which are readily accessible, usable and supported by normal humans with normal IQ's. More often than not, you will be dealing with a project that some random whiz-kid with a lot of time in his/her hands started off to pass time. Add to this mix the contributions and extensions added by 200 other people, and you're left to deal with something that would make being shot point blank with a sawed off shotgun, after being run over by an 18-wheeler, feel positively refreshing and revitalizing.

I prefer interacting with simple clicky-pointy-GUI's over typing mind-numbingly complicated commands and arguments at the command line. I prefer double clicking the installer, have it do the rest and run the application, to extracting multiple tarballs, compiling code and running MAKE files to build and manage them and run 3 different scripts with 12 different arguments to update the application! I would definitely prefer clicking something and have it, than to run something and spend hours trying to figure out how to get it to work. Why? Because I'm sane and normal, value time and want to get the job done.

Off to getting Apache solr working...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dell Yinspiron put-it-back-together guide..

If it just so happened that you came across this blog while your laptop's LCD display decided to go hunting for the Yeti, and your laptop happens to be a Dell Inspiron 1520/1521 (and most recent Dell's), guess what?'re in luck! What you'll see here is a step-by-step pictorial guide to pull apart/put together the display of your Inspiron. If the above is not applicable to you, but you'd like to see a laptop torn open...lucky you.

As always, I am not responsible for anything that may happen to you/your laptop, as a result of following this guide. If you still have any warranty left on your Dell, I'd recommend you get in touch with them (obv). That being said, if you're out of warranty AND are brave enough, you can follow this guide and save a ton of money and a good amount of time too. If you happen to be the user of a Sony or heaven forbid, an Apple laptop that is out of warranty...LOL...unless your local pawn shop is willing to trade-in human organs, you're better off buying a new laptop.

What I'm going to start off with is an already opened up display and try to put it back together. Obviously if you read the blog bottom-up, you'll get instructions to open up the display. In this case, I will be replacing the LCD power inverter in my display, but most of this guide is applicable to anything that might warrant opening up the display section (such as replacing the CCFL, the webcam unit etc.).

What you'll need is a Phillips head screw driver for opening up all but 3 screws. For the 3 screws that directly attach the inverter board to the rest of the LCD panel, you'll need the kind of screw head that most watch repairmen use. Since I'm not one myself and I don't know anyone who happens to repair messed up time-keeping devices, I went ahead and used a kitchen knife that was lying around.

What you'll need next is, obviously, a replacement LCD power inverter board. I bought mine off of flea-bay for less than $15 shipped. I've heard that Dell charges anywhere north of $100 and OEM boards cost around $50. Obviously I don't know how long my replacement board is going to last, but with my laptop already being about 2 years old, I'd much rather risk spending another $15 in the next few months and replace the laptop in another year to year and a half when it starts acting up, than spend a lot of $$ to fix it now. Replacement parts are aplenty for Dell' look around.

It took me a sum total of 5 minutes to get through the packing!!! :/

Bad inverter (top), Good inverter (bottom)

Ok, now the first thing you would want to do is pull out the laptop power cable and disconnect the battery.

Next, remove the display frame and keep all the screws ready (assuming you didn't throw these away in a fit of utter rage when your display bid you farewell..). And no, I did not use the frame as "scratch-paper". All that jibberish was already on there...

Now, place a newspaper, t-shirt or some other similarly soft material on the frame so that your LCD panel won't get scratched when you invert it and place it on the frame. Remove the old inverter board attached to the bottom of the LCD panel, held together by 2 tiny screws. This is where the knife/watch screw driver will be helpful.

Following this, plug out the power and interface cables from the old inverter board and remove the old board from the metal frame around it. You will have to unscrew one screw and carefully lift the board from the frame. You will encounter some resistance as a part of the board will be taped to the frame. I carefully ran the knife between the board and the frame to free it. You may also need to bend the small metal tab at one end of the frame to get the board out. 

Now, mount the new inverter board onto the frame, screw it in and connect the interface and power cable carefully. Note that both these cables will plug in correct only if inserted in one particular way. If you're encountering resistance, you're most likely trying to plug it in the wrong way. After this is done, mount the metal bracket (with the new board in it) back onto the bottom of the LCD frame and connect the thick cable at the back of it.

Now carefully line up the LCD panel screw-holes with the ones on the plastic back-panel. Do remember to plug the webcam/mic ribbon cable back in. This is a little tricky as the cable is a bit short and you need to carefully hold the LCD panel while fitting the cable. Once the cable is in the correct position, push the black tab on top of it so that the ribbon cable is held in place securely.

Once this is done, screw the LCD panel back onto the back-frame (4 screws on either side).

You may now clean the LCD panel carefully, if you choose to do so and attach the display back to the chassis. Be warned, little children might wet their pants upon seeing one of the pictures below and electronics and pee don't like each other...much.

Once the LCD frame has been secured onto the chassis via 4 screws (2 behind, 2 at the bottom) may now attach the bezel around the LCD carefully. Make sure it is firmly in place before you screw in the bezel.

You can follow this up by putting the rubber/mylar screw covers on the bezel.

Following this, you should route the mic/webcam cable carefully along the plastic channels provided and connect it to the motherboard. Follow this by carefully connecting the LCD interface cable to the graphics card onboard.

You can now attach the plastic panel on top the the keyboard. Now, attach the battery and do a diagnostic boot-up (Fn+Power button). Of note here; incase you didn't get a Dell OEM inverter board, the diagnostic test may spit out an error saying the inverter cable is not attached ( :| ). However, you can dismiss this since you're able to see the message in the first place!...which means the cable is very much in place and attached. Also, don't be alarmed if you see your screen or parts of your screen flicker...this should stop after a couple of minutes. Also, the screen may flicker again when you attach the power cable. Once again, don't be alarmed, it should stop on its own after a couple of minutes.

Once the tests are done and you don't notice anything abnormal (apart from the semi-retarded cable not being attached message), you're good to go! You may now proceed with setting your old power inverter board on fire (optional)!

I hope you found this blog useful!