Jeep Oil Service for Beginners

    Drowning in Oil

    Justin MajichPhotographer, Writer

    One of the best ways to get to know your new vehicle is by doing your own maintenance— loving it, taking care of it, and then fixing everything you broke while out abusing it. Basic maintenance is the first step in keeping your vehicle in tip-top condition. There is nothing worse than having to cancel a trip because of lack of maintenance, except for being “that guy” who breaks down on the trail, delaying the whole group. Enough breakage happens off-road without neglect adding to the problem. While we started at a young age learning how to maintain our vehicles, not everyone has had that opportunity. For those who haven’t, a good place to start learning is with fluid changes. Engine, transmission, transfercase, and differential fluids, as well as the engine air filter, are all very important to vehicle longevity, relatively simple to change, and great confidence boosters.

    Being new to the Jeep world, my ’11 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is my first Jeep. Being mechanically inclined, I had a good idea of what was involved but still had a couple of questions. I called up Editor Trasborg to pick his brain a little and was redirected to his good friend, Kayla, who happens to do all his work for him—go figure. In the end, we got it all figured out. After a quick look to make sure we had all the necessary tools and such, we got down to business. Now, this not having been our first rodeo, the service went pretty smoothly. Don’t be too worried about making a mess though—it happens to all of us. The most expensive part of my first few oil changes were the rolls of rags to clean up when I was done. While I’m on the subject of making a mess, be sure to be off to the side when you pull the drain plugs. Lying in the path of a stream of hot oil is most definitely not where you want to be—take my word for it.

    Before we begin, a couple of pointers. Since warm oil flows better then cold, it’s always a good idea to warm the vehicle up before doing an oil change. All you need to do is take it for a short drive, 10 or 15 minutes should be adequate. This allows more of the old, dirty oil to be drained out and disposed of. One other point I would like to make is on the subject of the fluids themselves. When in doubt, use what the manufacturer recommends. Because of the stresses that vehicles see in offroad use, such as low speeds and hot, dusty conditions, oil can break down faster. Due to previous experience with the brand, we chose Royal Purple synthetic fluids for everything. Using synthetic oils, provided it meets the manufacturer’s standards, can help extend the life of the oil and prolong the life of the drivetrain.

    Once you finish the oil change, make sure to double-check everything before you start the engine. The last thing you want to do is to start the engine and find out the hard way that you forgot to refill the oil or reinstall the filter. The same thing goes for everything else. Be sure to do a quick once over with a rag on all of the drain and fill plugs, filters, and gaskets just to make sure all is back together and not leaking oil. Go ahead and start the engine, let it idle, and look around again for any leaks. After a couple of minutes of warm-up to allow that fresh oil to work through the engine, we recommend a quick run around the block to get everything working. Since you wiped everything down when you were done, any leaks you may have should show up easily. Remember to always dispose of your oil properly.

    Manufacturer Recommended Service Intervals and Fluids (’07-’11 JK)
    Service Interval Recommended Fluid Oil We Used
    Engine 8,000 miles SAE 5W-20 SAE 5W-20
    Transmission 32,000 miles Mopar MS-9224 Synchromax
    Transfer Case 64,000 miles Mopar ATF +4 Automatic tranmission fluid
    Differentials 15,000 miles SAE 75W-90 SAE 75W-90