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Getting Real with Synthetic Fluids – Part I

Synthetic fluids are a cornerstone of Ain’t Fuelin’s Mindful Maintenance program. They offer a higher level of protection for the drivetrain, reduced friction, and the potential for an incremental improvement in fuel efficiency. All that said, one of the best parts about switching to synthetic oil is the increase in the number of miles driven between oil changes.

In the video that accompanies this post, I demonstrate how easy it is to perform a D-I-Y oil change on a (slightly) lifted Jeep Wrangler TJ. We affectionately call our ’98 TJ “The Heep.” It’s also known as “The Black Hole” for all the money that we’ve poured into it over the years …



The Heep was off the road (literally) for quite a while. In the last few months, we’ve replaced the fuel pump, gas tank skid plate, radiator, thermostat, battery, alternator and cat-back exhaust. Prior to that, the front end and transmission were rebuilt, the brake discs and drums were replaced, and new sections of frame rail were welded in the rear wheel arches.

The 4.0-liter straight six is one of the TJ’s best attributes. “You can’t kill that engine,” folks often say. The 4.0 is rock solid and easy to maintain and as you’ll see, doing oil changes is a snap. There’s no need to drive this beast up on ramps or put it on jackstands.

I never do the no-brand thing when it comes to oil changes. I always recommend synthetic oil and a quality filter.

With the TJ’s odometer somewhere north of 160,000 miles, Valvoline Max Life synthetic oil (for older vehicles) and a Purolator Synthetic oil filter fit the bill perfectly. Max Life contains “stop leak additives to help with oil consumption and extra detergents to help with the cleaning of an older engine” … and leaks are always a factor with a engine that’s seen this much use. (If the straight six had fewer miles, I’d opt for a full synthetic oil.)

The Purolator Synthetic filter is engineered for 10,000 miles between oil changes and uses wire-backed media that’s “designed to trap and hold up to 27 grams of that dirt and junk that could get into your engine and cause major repairs.” The Purolator Synthetic filters also include a silicone anti-drainback valve and a blue textured finish that looks awesome and makes filter changes a snap. Super cool stuff from the company that invented the oil filter, way back in 1923.

Removing and replacing the oil filter on the 4.0L six couldn’t be easier, with access from above and ample space around the engine. The TJ has a modest lift that provides plenty of ground clearance and allows for quick access to the oil pan drain plug without any need for ramps or jack stands. Needless to say, it’s not this easy with vehicle that sits lower to the ground.

I have a second oil-change video in the works that includes a bunch of tips and tricks. Stay tuned …

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Disclosure: Many thanks to the sponsors that help make Ain’t Fuelin’ a reality. Purolator paid a fee through Burst Media for this specific video and post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Oil filters were provided by Purolator. Valvoline and Red Kap are launch sponsors. Crew shirt provided by Red Kap. I bought the oil. My mom left me the dish pan. My kid wants me to pay him an appearance fee for use of the Heep.

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