Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Changing Genny Oil

Today was the day for me to change my generator oil. Of course, that also involved several weeks of procrastination before I finally told myself, "just get out & get it done!"  So I did. And yes, I was talking to myself again...only this time, not out loud.

When I first got my RV, I really didn't know a whole lot about maintenance. I knew there was some, but figured I'd learn as I went along. I think the first few times I use the genny, it would surge & surge like mad. I knew to check the oil, so I kept a check on it, but it still surged. So I took it to an RV place & they changed the oil for me. For $40. Then I learned how to do it & felt silly to pay someone that much money to do something I could have easily done myself! So I got the proper tools & have been changing it myself. No more surges. That happens when the oil starts to get dirty. But I change it more often now.

So today's post is aimed on how to change your generator oil. That is, if your generator is similiar to mine. Mine is an Onan, a small generator that fits my small RV's needs. I think mine is a Microlite 2800. Need to check that for sure though. Paperwork is in a cabinet & if I dare move, I'll lose my internet connection...oh bummer, lost it anyhow! grrrrr

So I got my MoHo in 2006. A weekend before a dog show that I was entered in. So I brought it home, set it up for what I needed for my first trip out in it. Got to the show, ran the generator - magic! What a cool invention RV's are! I can't quite remember what it was, but maybe I read the panel on the generator. It said to keep the cover on while running it. Cover? What cover?? Oh great, cover is missing & it was missing when I bought the RV. The place I bought it at wasn't far away from the show, so I drove over there, nope, they could not find the cover. So I ordered a used one. It came in the mail. It wasn't right for my model. I don't remember who I got it from, but they refused to take it back. Paid something like $60 or $80 for it? So I got stuck with that cover. To order a new one was going to cost $150 from Onan :-(  So I use the one I bought instead, but I have to be sure that I take it off when I shut down the generator or it will become a road turtle for traffic & get flipped, cracked & crushed.
Oh well. I did lose it once.

 Oh goodie.
It's late at night, I'm driving.
I hear it fall off.
Oh blast it!
So I turn around & get it off the middle of the's laying on a dead skunk! Yea, that's my kind of luck.
I got the priviledge of smelling skunk for a few weeks!

That's the past, I need to figure out a way to secure the one I have so I don't have to put it away every time I shut the genny down. Can't use the genny & drive either unless I figure how to secure the darn thing. Cover that is. The generator had better be secure! It could kill the next skunk!

Anyhow, I'll supply ya'll with a bunch of photos as we go along:


Tarp to lay on. Paper towels. Plastic gloves if you don't like getting your hands greasy & oily. Tools as stated below. Cat is optional. Cat is not necessary. Cat thought it was party time, so he had to come help. As I'm crawling under my genny, he's curling himself against my side, purring & rolling. He thinks this is great! I came outside to lay down on the ground with him in his world! How great is life today for him! Geez. I put him in the house. I was afraid he'd get into the oil.

I have two tool kits. This one I bought a few years back at JCPenny's at Christmas time for $20. It's invaluable! I always put my tools right smack back into it when done! I don't want to lose a single thing!! My other tool kit is pink ;-)

A screwdriver that I can fit the torx screw into and a wrachet wrench.

You can see what size torx screw was needed for my genny. I saved the package in case I ever lose the screw.

15mm nut & one human nut.

I use the oil that is specified to use for my generator. I buy it by the gallon & carry it always. And I keep the orange spout in a bag with paper towels wrapped around it to keep it clean & the storage area clean. After every 8 hours of running your generator, always check your oil levels. If low, put more into your generator, being careful NOT to overfill! Overfilling is bad. I buy my oil at the auto dept at WalMart.

An oil drain container to catch the old oil. This type also has a plastic type of screen to catch your oil screw. Nut. Whatever you call it. You do NOT want to lose it! So keep the screen on the oil pan - the green lid screws off. The screen is under that lid & that's where you let your oil drain into. Container that is, not the lid ;-)

That yellow cover is screwed down with torx screws. So I take one screw off, being careful not to lose it & I loosen the other so I can slide the yellow cover sideways to access the nut that releases the oil. The screws are what I use the torx screwdriver for. Once you get the yellow cover open, then you will reach up & loosen the oil bolt. You will need the 15mm nut thingy on your wrachet thingy.
C'mon, you don't expect me to remember the real names & type too?? I suppose you think I can't walk & chew gum at the same time too huh? well, I don't like gum, so there! Nanners.

So wearing your lovely plastic gloves, reach the nut & take it off once you get it loose enough to screw off by hand. Place it on the drain screen & just leave it rest there till you need to use it again. Beware, oil comes gushing out, so be prepared! The first time I did this, I got a bit of an oil bath. Black gold. Texas Tea. Worthless. Not even good for your skin.

It's peeing!!! It was stronger of course, but I had to go get my camera!

Drain can screen with the bolt resting on it.

When done, put the plug back in it's hole, resecure it with your nut wrench. Then resecure your yellow cover. Cover the oil pan & take it to a recycling center to be poured out -- keep the container for future usage though!

Generator with panel off. Note the yellow dip stick. That's where you put the fresh oil into.
I know many of ya'll already know this, but this post also suffices as a tutorial for those that want to learn about this.

Yellow thing is the dip stick. Take it off, then insert your funnel. Slowly refill with fresh oil, using only a little at a time!! You do NOT want to overfill! So I pour a little, check, pour more, check. Keep checking. A flash light helps too. When you see oil at the bottom of the neck, then be careful not to over fill. Use the dip stick to see if you get a reading yet. If not, keep putting a little in at a time till your stick reads & is at a proper level.

When filled, put the dip stick back on. Move tools/supplies away. Place your cover back on and give your generator a good exercise on a full load for about an hour. Your generator will LOVE you! It will be sooo happy to have nice fresh oil. And will reward you will lots of future usage. You should run your generator at least once a month, with a full load for around an hour. Full load means using the a/c and other appliances inside of the rig. I turn on the TV & use the microwave sometimes too while running a full load. ****Please note, be sure to NEVER use shore power AND your generator at the same time! That is bad, very, very bad! In my case, it would fry my electrical system as I don't have an over ride switch that safe guards my rig! Some rigs do, some don't. And another side note, any time you plug into shore power, be sure to use a surge protector to also protect your RV's electrical system. They aren't cheap, but they are cheap insurance compared to frying your entire electrical system.

~As always, be kind to your pets, clean up after them on your travels & respect your neighbor~


  1. That oil looks awfully clean to me. I'm sure glad you got the leak stopped!

    1. Hi Michael, no leaks, just a routine oil change. Thanks for stopping in!

  2. Great job! I know how to change my oil but lack a place to do so. :(
    Congrats on staying on top of it, I run my genny at least once or twice a month when the rig is stored and run it some when we go camping on the way to the campground.


    1. Erik, you take really good care of your rig. The day you sell it, someone will be buying a gem! No matter how old it becomes then :-)

  3. Great post and explanation. Definitely one of those important maintenance items that needs to be taken care of. I like the addition of the cat to the mix. Spices things up a little bit.

  4. I'm very impressed. First of all with that tool kit you carry, that's nice. Second, the fact that you've taken the time to learn how to take care of things yourself. A tip of the hat.

  5. It's wonderful to know how to do all these things. There is a solo lady here in the park and her hot water drain plug blew the other day, and she fixed it. She was very pleased with herself. I sure give you all kudos. I guess we do what we have to to save money and be self reliant.

  6. Tex-Cyn, you are too funny! Good to learn something new in such a light-hearted way. and I did need to learn it. I have a 4000(?) Onan generator but have never run it. Guess that will give me something to do next week. Thanks!!

  7. Bravo to you for changing your oil yourself and understanding your RV's maintenance issues! You're an inspiration. I hope you have a great Mother's Day.

  8. You give me courage to try to tackle mine. Mine is under the van and I have no access door to it. But maybe it won't be so bad. I'm also relieved to know the cat is optional. I was worried about that ;-) Mine isn't always so cooperative as to help. I have all those tools but not in so tidy a case. Nice case.

  9. Thanks for the comments everyone. Much appreciated. I am having really big connection issues, so I'm doing a bulk thanks instead of individual ones. I'm behind again, partly because of the iffy connections I get here...
    trying to catch up on everyones blogs though.

  10. I think the cat did a great job of changing the oil. Can I rent your cat? I have a puppy he can bat around...

    1. Haha, he's not my kitty. He belongs to the other people that live here in a house. Imagine that? living in a house? His name is ihop because he was found in bad shape in an ihop parking lot. He probably was hit by a car. So he now has an artificial hip & a good life. He is a cool kitty.

  11. Thanks for the tutorial. I've had it explained to me, but this is so much better, the photos really help. Next time I'm going to change the oil myself. I do carry extra oil and check it every 8 hours. But I'm not always near a place I trust for the oil change, so doing it myself makes sense. :)

    1. I'd have to figure out where to store the oil pan if I went full time on the road. Here, I can just slide it under the RV when not in use or place it elsewherre near the RV. I can take it to the recycling center to dump it & use it again. I'm glad to have been of help.


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