Earlier this month the WRX rolled over 7,000 miles! This meant it was time for a second oil change - the first one I would be doing myself (I redeemed a freebie with the dealership for the 3,000 mile break-in oil change).
Before jumping in, I did some research on what kind of oil is best for the FA20 engine. A bit of Googling ended up just giving me a headache, since there's A LOT of opinions on this topic (see this 140+ page thread over on NASIOC).
Step 1: Gather your tools + supplies
I saw a lot of recommendations to use 5W-40 Rotella T6, but changing the viscosity from the manufacturer recommendation just made me nervous. There were a lot of mentions of Penzoil Ultra Platinum 5W-30 too, but at the time, it was more difficult to find locally and not much cheaper than the OEM stuff.
In the end, I decided to play it safe and roll with the Subaru OEM Idemitsu oil. If bought in bulk, it's pretty affordable! I picked up a case (12 one quart bottles) of oil, two filters, and two crush washers from my dealership for $94.48, or just under $50 per oil change.
July 2023 Update: I've since switched to Costco's Kirkland brand oil on our cars since its an incredible value (~$20/oil change) and comes very highly rated/recommended.
Finally, I gathered the rest of the tools I'd need:
- Floor jack
- Jack stands
- Ratcheting sockets (14mm)
- Oil filter wrench
- Oil drain pan
- Torque Wrench (optional)
- Wheel chocks
Step 2: Jack up the car
I backed the car into the garage and chocked the rear wheels. Having only jacked the car up once (in the dark), I took some time to familiarize myself with the jacking points on the car.
Unfortunately the only jack I had on-hand was my Harbor Freight 1.5 ton racing jack. While this worked perfectly for my pint-sized Fiesta ST, I realized I'd need to upgrade to a heavier duty jack soon!
Nonetheless, I was able to fit both the jack and stand on the passenger side front frame rail.
December 2020 Update: After some more research, I've started using the WRX's front jacking point - located just behind the headers. This is much more convenient since I only have to jack the car up in one place, but does require a beefier floor jack:
Step 3: Remove old filter
Next, I popped the hood and unscrewed the oil filter. I seriously want to kiss whatever engineer at Subaru designed the top-facing oil filter.
Even though I needed to break out the filter wrench, breaking the thing loose standing up is INFINITELY easier than lying on your back. To all non-Subaru manufacturers: this is the way.
After a quick kick of the front tire to make sure the car was stable and centered on the jack stands, I slid under the car to check things out.
My first impressions were that everything is much more accessible and intelligently laid out than on the ST. Subaru is clearly catering to the driveway mechanic here! My favorite part was this sweet "DIT Forged" logo stamped into the support arm of the aluminum skid pan:
On to draining the oil!
Step 4: Drain the old oil
Accessing the drain plug was pretty straightforward, but breaking the seal took a little heft from a 14mm socket with extension.
Having done numerous oil changes on my ST without covering myself in oil, I was pretty confident I'd be able to perform a similar feat on the WRX.
There's always next time...
Step 5: Replace crush washer
While I let the oil drain from the engine, I hopped over to the workbench to replace the crush washer on the drain plug. As I learned, the OEM crush washer has a rounded and flat side; the flat side faces the flat face of the bolt, while the round side is designed to crush against the rounded drain hole in the oil pain. Thankfully I double checked this prior to reinstalling everything!
Step 6: Reinstall drain plug
After rolling back under the car, I skillfully proceeded to drop the drain plug into the recently drained oil. Sigh.
Once I fished it out and cleaned it off, THEN I moved the full oil pan out of the way and screwed the drain plug back in place by hand. I wasn't sure if there were specific torque specs for the drain plug, but a quick search online revealed there was - (34.3 ft-lb).
However, since I didn't have the right extensions for my torque wrench, I elected to simply tighten everything down hand-tight with the socket.
Step 7: New filter and oil
With the drain plug and crush washer reinstalled, I rolled back out and hopped up to install a new filter, which I tightened by hand.
Getting the oil cap off presented a bit of a challenge, as it simply wouldn't budge. Nothing a little gentle persuasion from a vice grips can't fix! I then positioned my funnel and poured in 5.4 quarts of fresh 5W-30 (per the owners manual).
Oil cap reinstalled, I slipped a paper towel on the ground under the drain plug to make any leaks easier to see and grabbed some lunch. 30 minutes later with no evidence of leaks, I lowered the car off the stands and started it up!
With no explosions, grinding noises, or horrific shuddering, I gave myself a high-five and went inside to drink some beer.
Overall, the oil change experience on the FA20 is a breeze. Everything important is easily accessible and very user-friendly. Coming from the nightmare that was the Fiesta ST oil change, the WRX was refreshingly easy!
If you're attempting your own oil change and have any questions about anything, please feel free to hit me up at [email protected]!
December 2020 Update: I've put together a downloadable PDF version of this post with step-by-step instructions, tools, part lists, and helpful tips/pictures! You can download the guide here!
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