The first time I changed oil in a car was when I was sixteen and working in a gas station. Before that, I’d never even seen it done. I became an expert, though, and have always been responsible for one, two, or three vehicles. I may have done a hundred oil changes, but none approaches the oil change I’ve been working on for two weeks.

It’s coming soon, the first oil change in my “new” work van, a 2006 GMC Savana. I bought it on December 1st and the onboard computer has studied my habits and announced that I need an oil change. But this won’t be just any oil change, no sir! This one-ton truck’s Duramax diesel engine costs a fortune to replace, and a properly maintained diesel can last nearly forever, so I’m giving this project everything I’ve got. Logistically, it’s starting to remind me of plans for the invasion at Normandy on D-Day.

It began by reading extensively at the Diesel Place web site. Through recommendations there and study elsewhere, I decided on Schaeffer’s Supreme 9000 synthetic oil. Schaeffer is the oldest oil company in America. Most of the Conestoga wagons had Schaeffer grease on their axles. I found a good deal on the Internet and a case of twelve quarts (and shipping) set me back $82.69. That’s $6.89/qt.

Possibly the finest oil filter is made by the Amsoil company. With a $22.67 price tag, it should be.

I also purchased a doo-dad called a Fumoto valve. It replaces the threaded plug in your oil pan and makes it possible to drain your oil by just turning a lever. Somebody should have thought of this ninety years ago. Shipping and all, $31.81.

These days you can send off a sample of your used oil to have it analyzed by a chemical lab. That’s what real diesel devotees do, so I got Blackstone Labs to send me a kit so I can find out how my engine, filters, and oil have been holding up. It only costs $22.50 plus $2.00 postage.

The Savana has a two-stage fuel filtering process, and the fuel filters on a diesel are very important. Dirty fuel can wreck your engine and it is time to change my filters, so I got a good deal on the Internet and had the filters and o-rings shipped here for a total price of only $73.74.

Adding these all together, I get $235.41; but if I have two quarts left over, that knocks off nearly fourteen bucks! And I suppose one might not count the fuel filters, so maybe this little oil change is really only costing $147.89, plus labor. (I wonder how much I should pay myself?)

I’m pursuing something called “extended oil drain intervals.” That is, I’m going to see how long I can go without changing my oil. The used oil analysis tells no lies, and it is quite possible to go hundreds of thousands of miles before needing an oil change. If so, then I should come out ahead financially one day.