Oil Change


Veteran Member
Apr 7, 2006
Alexandria, VA
2002 golf
Okay, this may be incredibly simple, but not everybody has been wrenching cars since they modded their mom's Ford when they were 14. So don't give me a hard time on this one.

This is for the ALH 99.5 and later, which uses something called a "eco type oil filter". The filter removal techniques for other models of course match whatever is on the engine.

This is the topside oil change method. I'll leave it to others to describe the conventional method. The TDI community is split between topside and conventional oil changes.

You will need
  1. a topside oil extractor (e.g., Pela or Topsider) 4.2 qts. or larger. (These are available on-line, at marine supply houses, and at some Auto Parts R Us stores.)
  2. the oil and filter
  3. A 10 mm nutdriver or socket (for the engine cover)
  4. an oil filter wrench (and its ratchet handle). For 99.5 and later, a 74/76mm, 14 flute (for eco type oil filter). I've used a strap wrench, but the 14 flute wrench is best and they're less than $5. It should identify a VAG product on the package and have 14 flutes.
  5. a flat screwdriver
  6. a roll of paper towels
  7. suitable solvent (diesel, kerosene, spirits)
  8. hand cleaner (optional - I use the cheap stuff that feels like cold cream.)
  9. a plastic bag

Before You Start
  1. Make sure the filter wrench fits.
  2. Open the filter box and see if it contains a large and small O-rings. If you have these, you will be able to change these parts on the oil filter housing cap. This need not be done every time, so if the O-rings are missing, it's no big deal.
  3. Open the jar of hand cleaner, so you won't have to deal with it later.
  4. Look at the manual to see how much oil the car takes.

Doing the Oil Change
  1. Park the car so it is not facing uphill. (The dipstick should be even with or lower than the rear of the engine because that's where you are going to extract the oil from.) With the topside extraction method, it isn't necessary to have hot oil, but it does help if the oil is at least warm.
  2. Remove the engine cover (10 mm nutdriver).
  3. Fit the oil filter wrench to the oil filter cap and remove the cap. This is the messy part because the filter is dripping oil. Give it about a minute with the cap loose for the oil to drain past the shaft, and then take the filter out. Try to slip the plastic bag or an open container under the filter when doing so, in order that you don't "anoint" the entire engine compartment with sacred motor oil.
  4. Pump down the oil extractor (according to directions on the oil extractor).
  5. Insert the tube from the oil extractor into the dipstick hole until you feel it touch the bottom of the oil pan. Then release the suction on the tube and let it do its thing.
  6. Use the paper towels to clean up any spilled oil.
  7. Separate the oil filter cap from the oil filter by separating the cap from the oil filter. - The cap has a shaft that extends through the filter, which should be apparent when you look at it. When the filter and cap are away from the car, just pull the cap up away from the filter.
  8. Clean excess oil from the oil filter cap.
  9. Use the screwdriver to remove the two O-rings from the filter cap. One is at the end of the shaft and the other is at the top of the threads. Replace these with the new O-rings.
  10. Pump down the extractor again and move the tube to try to get all of the oil from the crankcase. If you do this right, the amount of oil extracted will exceed the amount you would have drained by a conventional technique. I also suck some out of the filter housing, but that's not really necessary.
  11. Pour oil into the engine, either through the filler cap or the open oil filter housing. (I use the aircraft mechanics' technique of placing the spout at the top of the container when full, which makes it easier to pour.)
  12. Insert the new filter onto the cap. The filter looks symmetrical, but one end of the filter will indicate "top".
  13. Screw the filter on. It needn't be very tight, but make sure that the O-ring is completely within the housing and of course that it's completely closed.
  14. Start the car and wait a few seconds for the engine to sound like the oil is circulating through it (i.e., after the oil has filled the filter housing). Then rev the engine a bit to clear most of the remaining air from inside the oil filter housing.
  15. Visually inspect the filter housing for leaks.
  16. Check the oil level and top off. If you overfilled, use the extractor to remove some oil.
  17. Put the engine cover back on.

Some cars will not accept an oil extractor, so don't presume it works on your spouse's Toyota. If you're using an oil extractor on a car for which the extraction technique is not identified, open the drain plug after performing the topside extraction the first time. There are some cars, notably some but not all Japanese car engines, that have oil pan baffles that prevent topside oil changes.

As SuSE Software says, "Have a lot of fun!"


Top Post Dawg
Aug 29, 2002
Wallace, NC
'03 Jetta Wagon
Canadian_Grizzly said:
Let me be the first to say...Great Write Up!!! Should definately go into WIngnuts How TO's!
__. Agreed, but I'd suggest a couple of small edits:

1) If you grab the plastic bag by the bottom with your right hand and then push it over your forearm so that you've turned the bag inside out on your hand, it's easy to withdraw the filter cartridge without spilling a drop. Just grab the filter and pull the bag "right side out" as you bring the filter out.

2) I always pour at least a quart of the oil into the filter canister on the outside of the new filter just before the cap goes back on. You'll see it "get full". This shortens the time before oil pressure builds again dramatically.


Well-known member
Jun 6, 2007
Central NC
'01.5 Jetta GL - formerly auto (thanks jimbote!)
Operation three-day oil change...

unitacx said:
don't presume it works on your spouse's Toyota.
Why couldn't I have read this thread a week ago, BEFORE the "longest oil change ever?"

I had great success using my Motive Power Extractor on my '01 Jetta, and last week when my fiance mentioned that she was overdue for an oil change on her '97 Camry, I figured I'd give the topside method a shot. I checked the manual that came with the extractor, and while it mentioned incompatibility with 92-94 Camrys, it said nothing about '97s. It should have.

The extractor tube went in just fine, but when the time came to pull it out, it resisted. Long story somewhat shortened - I left about 7" of extractor tube in the Camry's oil pan. :eek:

Some measure of blood, sweat and tears later, I managed to drop the oil pan and retrieve the sheared-off tube, and I found the bracket inside the oil pan against which the tube had become stuck. Motive is sending me a new tube for my extractor, and they'll list this issue with the '97 Camry in future manuals. Good folks at Motive.

Ah well. The Camry had needed a new oil pan gasket anyway. :D