My Nissan Maxima SE has miles on it I purchased...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Aug 01, 1994

Dear Tom and Ray:

My 1987 Nissan Maxima SE has 72,000 miles on it. I purchased the car new and decided at the time that I would keep the car for at least 10 years. I have been very careful to maintain the car properly, adhering to the maintenance schedule plus changing the oil and filter every 3,000 miles. Not long ago some male friends were going to teach me how to change the oil myself, thereby enabling me to save money. Our problem was that we could not locate the oil filter. Before the search ended, three adult men had spent ten minutes looking for the oil filter, to no avail. We finally checked the owner's manual and located it, hidden underneath some other engine parts. Now my friends speculate that the attendant at a quick oil change store would not take the time and trouble to locate the filter, and that the filter may have been changed only a few times during the life of the car, if at all! Now I'm worried sick that this may indeed be the case. Do you think my friends are right? And what can I do in the future to ensure that my filter gets changed? I'm losing sleep over this. Please advise.

RAY: Calm down, Patricia. Just because these three guys (probably two PhD's and a NASA engineer) couldn't find the oil filter, doesn't mean the Cro-magnon, knuckle-scraping, quickie-oil-change-guys couldn't find it. After all, that's what they do for a living.

TOM: Right. I mean, I wouldn't trust them to deliver babies or change a dollar bill, but most of them can handle an oil change without any problem. So I'd be willing to bet that your filter HAS been changed every time you've changed the oil.

RAY: But just to ease your mind, I'd suggest a two-pronged approach to future oil changes. First, now that you know where the filter is, you can put a little paint mark on it to identify it. Then, after the oil change, check and see if the marked filter is gone, and a new one is there in its place.

TOM: And just for additional peace of mind, I'd leave the owner's manual on the front seat. Leave it open to the page that says "How To Locate Your Oil Filter."

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