2012 Jeep Wrangler Long Term Road Test


2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport: DIY Oil Change

January 08, 2012

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It doesn't get any easier than this. Changing the oil in our 2012 Jeep Wrangler requires no floor jack, no jackstands -- just my trusty drain pan, a funnel, and a wrench each for the drain plug and oil filter.

This is a sub ten minute job if you're not taking pictures. Next time I bet I can do it in five.

Step One: You know the drill; crawl under, position pan, lefty loosey, drain plug out, glug glug. If you can avoid dropping the drain plug into the pan you won't even need any gloves.

And this drain plug has a rubber seal built in to it, so there's no washer to lose -- or replace.

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Even with stock tires a jack would be unnecessary, but the extra 2 inches of ground clearance provided by the 33-inch BFG Mud Terrain tires made it a no-brainer -- literally.

It's time to go topside once the oil is out because the oil filter isn't down here.

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That's because the Jeep's new 3.6-liter V6 uses a cartridge oil filter, and it's hiding under that engine cover. The cover pulls up and off with no tools.

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There it is, right on top and right in the middle of the vee.

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The long ratchet is overkill, but the only 15/16-inch socket I have is 1/2-inch drive. At least the flexible ratchet handle makes for good swing clearance, but an extension would do the same. 

The pressure from a single finger is enough to loosen the cap because it's not something that has to be uber tight. The o-ring is on the barrel, as we'll soon see -- it's not a crush seal like you see on regular oil filters.

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The filter comes straight out with the cap because the two are snapped together. Hold it here for a few seconds so the majority of the drippings fall back into the housing. You'll still want a rag, though.

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I bought a new filter at the Jeep dealer, but they're available most anywhere. Separate the oil filter from the cap by pulling hard enough to overcome the snap-together clip.

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A new o-ring comes with the filter. Pull off the old and put on the new. A small flat-blade screwdriver may help.

Here you can see how the o-ring seals on the side. Tightness has nothing much do with it in a design such as this -- as long as you have the cap screwed in all the way.

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The end that goes in the cap is the end with the snap-in fingers. Push until they click into place.

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All set to go back in.

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Lower it in the housing and spin it by hand to engage the threads. At some point you'll switch to your 15/16-inch socket to screw it in the rest of the way.

You'll feel a step up in resistance as the o-ring starts to make contact but at that point you'll still see daylight between the housing and the lip of the cap. You'll keep going a turn or so past this point until the cap truly bottoms out. Resist the temptation to crank it down super tight. Snug with a extra tweak is all we're going for.

For this reason a 3/8-inch drive standard-length ratchet is a better choice than the monster I used, but even with one of those it's best to choke up to prevent over-tightening.

Don't forget to reinstall the drain plug down below before you start adding six quarts of your favorite 5W-30 motor oil. Yeah, it takes six, not five. A Jeep's oil pan is extra deep so the oil pickup will continue to operate with the truck heeled over at odd angles.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 7,187 miles

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2012 Jeep Wrangler in VA is:

$142 per month*
* Explanation
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