Engine Oil Changes

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Religiously changing your oil on the Rialta engine is the best thing you can do for it.  It is not much different than changing oil on any other motor vehicle.  As with many newer cars, there is a sheet metal "belly pan" that should be removed to gain access to the oil filter.  This pan is not heavy and can easily be maneuvered out of the way by one person.  Make sure you use a new filter and o-ring at every oil change.





Oil Change Tools & Equipment:

¤ - Ramps
¤ - Tools:
     - Large Crescent-type wrench or suitable gripping tool to remove the filter cap
     - 19mm wrench or socket
     - 10mm wrench
     - 13mm socket and extension
¤ - 6 quarts oil
¤ - Oil filter



Necessary for gaining ground clearance to lower or remove the belly-pan.  Make sure that they are rated for at least 4,000 pounds axle weight.  Technically, you can crawl underneath and remove the belly-pan without the use of ramps but this sure makes things a lot easier.  Cost is around $30-40.  Available at Wal-Marts and nearly all automotive supply stores.


  • 19mm wrench or socket for removing the oil drain plug
  • 10mm wrench for removing nuts on back brackets of the belly-pan
  • 13mm sockets and extension for removing bolts on the belly-pan
  • Large Crescent-type wrench for removing the oil filter cap.  Some people are using a 36mm socket which fits over the large hex nut at the bottom of the filter cap.  Still others are using is simple band type filter wrench which grabs and tightens onto the outside perimeter of the cap allowing it to be loosened or tightened.
  • OIL:

    Six quarts will be required.  There is much misinformation and contradictory information from VW as to exactly what the oil capacity is supposed to be.  As a precaution, check the oil level after you are about 1/2-way through the 6th quart.  Do not overfill.

    VW officially recommends a multi-viscosity oil of 5W-40 or 5W-30 but unless you are in a severe cold area, 10W-40 or even 10W-30 will work just fine.  Check with your local VW dealership and ask what oil they put in when they perform an oil change.  Most are using 10W-30.  The oil must carry an API Service designation of "SL" (which nearly all major brands will meet).

    Some people prefer to use a synthetic oil which has better lubricating properties especially under extreme heat and pressure.  The downside is that is somewhat more expensive per quart, but makes up for it in longevity.  And contrary what some unscrupulous dealers may be telling you, Volkswagen Corporation has NOT required the use of synthetic oil over the traditional "dinosaur" oil.  Volkswagen has indicated that it is a better, more preferred oil but its use is not required to maintain your warranty status.  Only you can decide if you want to spend the extra money.


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    Step-by-Step Oil Change Procedure:

    Before you begin, you should know that the VW EuroVan chassis from which the Rialta is based uses a sheet metal "belly-pan" underneath the engine area on all VR-6 based engines.  Some dealers and service centers may refer to this as a "skid plate" but don't be fooled; it is merely sheet metal and very light.  It requires less than 5 minutes of extra work to remove the four bolts and two nuts that hold it in place.  The oil drain plug is accessible without removing the belly-pan on all model years but in order to access and change the oil filter, the belly-pan must be removed.  This pan helps direct cooling air and keeps un-necessary water and road debris from splashing all over the engine and other components, in addition to quiet engine noise.  In fact, the official name and description from VW is "sound deadener".

    You can optionally modify the belly-pan by creating a cut-out in the area of the oil filter which will allow you to change the oil filter without removing the belly-pan.  See the modifications page entitled "Belly-Pan Cut-Out" which is a Winnebago Service Bulletin in Adobe PDF format for complete instructions.  This modification will not void any VW warranty.


    Drive your Rialta's front tires up on the ramps, put it in park, put the emergency brake on, and shut off the engine.  Remove the ignition keys so that somebody doesn't accidentally start up the engine while you are working on it.  Place proper blocks behind the back tires to prevent the vehicle  from rolling back off the ramps.  Don't skip the last part of this step --- be safe and remember that you would probably not survive the weight of a Rialta coming down on you if it rolls back down the ramps.  Just think "what if" and be safe.  This is why I don't use a hydraulic jack to raise up the Rialta.  If your ramps are nearly maxxed out for their load limit, then before you crawl underneath you may also wish to place some jack stands under the frame so that if one of your ramps collapsed, then the vehicle would only fall onto the jack stand.


    Even if you don't have to remove the belly-pan, some people still like to completely remove it so that it gives them complete and easy access to the oil filter plus a chance to visually inspect other components while looking for loose hoses, clamps and brackets.  Its also a good time to clean up any road debris or residual oil film on the belly-pan and other parts.

    There are two 10mm hex nuts towards the rear of the pan where the back end of the belly-pan changes into two hanger brackets.  Remove both of these 10mm nuts.  You will also note that the rear hanger fits into a slot of the undercarriage.  When you drop the belly-pan, you can optionally choose to leave these hangers in the slots which effectively serve as a pivot to allow the pan to drop down for service access.  Its a minor hassle to wiggle the hangers loose or to re-install them if you do decide to completely remove the belly pan.  I recommend that you completely remove the belly pan as it will afford you an opportunity to get an unobstructed view of the engine area and clean up any oil or fluid drips, not to mention the ability to retrieve that nut, bolt, or wrench that you dropped through the engine area.

    There are four 13mm hex-head bolts pretty much in the four corners of the belly-pan.  You'll want to use a socket wrench with a long extension for removing the bolts. There is one in each of the two front corners behind the bumper/grill area and one on each side further back but still in front of the front wheels.

    After you find and remove these four bolts, the belly-pan will drop down about an inch or so -- it's a good way to know that you've removed the right four bolts.  The thing holding it in that position is a primitive latch in the middle front of the belly-pan right behind the bumper and the two rear brackets which fit into a slotted holder.  Press and release this front latch and the belly-pan will hinge downward from the hanger brackets at the rear.  It will drop down up front so be ready to catch it.

    To completely remove the belly-pan, slide the entire thing forward until the back brackets drop out of their slots.  Now wrestle the pan straight forward along the ground and out through the front until it is completely free of the vehicle area.  Contrary to what others may have said, the pan is only thin sheet metal and not a skid-plate made of heavy metal.  It probably weights about 20 pounds maximum.  You can check the inside of the pan for any tell-tale evidence of leakage and give it a little clean-up while in there.


    Raise the hood and remove the oil filler tube cap.  Having the cap off will help drain the oil faster and more completely.  Put a proper capacity pan underneath the area of the oil drain plug to catch the oil.  This plug is located in the side of the big black painted engine crankcase pan.  You may want to put down some cardboard or plastic under the whole area to save your driveway or ground, because it will be a one-foot drop to the pan, and even a slight wind will cause the oil flow to spray everywhere.  Unscrew the oil drain plug using a 19mm wrench or socket.

    Let the oil drain COMPLETELY.  Clean the area around where the drain plug screws in and clean the drain plug itself making sure that the threads are clean with no dirt or contaminants.  Screw the drain plug back in being careful not to strip the threads.  It is inserted at a somewhat unusual angle, so be patient and make sure you have it lined up properly.  You should be able to tighten it almost all the way by hand, and then just turn it a little more with a wrench to make sure it is tight.  Wipe off any oil drips around the oil drain plug, so you'll be able to check for leaks once you add the new oil.


    The oil filter canister has a black cap which faces down at a slight angle.  Keep in mind the actual oil filter is an internal element, and the replacement filter will not have the metal casing that is around most other commonly used "spin-on" type filters.  If you unscrew the cap, oil will start to leak everywhere so it is best to first remove the bottom drain plug.  Use a 6mm hex wrench to remove a plug bolt to drain the oil from inside of the canister which avoids the big mess of the oil spilling out when the cap is first loosened.  With the oil drained, use either a large Crescent type wrench or a 36mm socket on the bottom hex nut to remove the cap.  Alternatively you can use one of the band-type filter removing tools.

    With the cap removed, pull the filter element off the cap and make a mental note of which end went in first.  You can't really get it backwards but by examining it now will make it easier when putting in the new one.  Remove the old O-ring from around the edge of the cap.  A new replacement one should have come with your new filter.  You might need to use a pair of needle-nose pliers to get a good grip on the old O-ring or use a small flat tip screwdriver to lift it out of its groove.  Use a clean rag to wipe out the inside of the cap and the threads.  Make sure you remove all dirt and small particles in the o-ring groove.  Put a little new oil on the new O-ring to lubricate it and then put it in the same groove around the lip of the cap where you pulled the old one off.  Make sure it is in the groove or you'll end up with leaks.  Do NOT try to re-use the old O-ring as more than likely a slow dripping leak will occur.


    Special Note:On the filter for the AXK, 24 valve engine, the picture on the left below shows how the filter looks out of the box.  The "snout" may be removed before installation, as shown on the right, otherwise the filter may get deformed when installed.  Some of the cheap filters copied this wrong and the stem isn't removeable, so it has to be cut off.  It's only there to hold the small o-ring for the drain plug on the filter cap.  (Click on photo for larger version.)


    Properly orient the correct end of the new filter in place in the cap, pressing firmly until it snaps in place.  Make sure to clean all of the threads on the cap.  Take the cap with new filter and new O-ring installed on it and careful screw it back into place in the canister.  It should turn easily all the way by hand.  If not, be careful -- you're probably stripping the threads on the cap.

    After tightening it flush by hand, give it another very small fraction of a turn with wrench, but don't over-tighten!  Again, clean up the area around the cap and filter canister so that you will be able to easily check for leaks.

    6. ADD NEW OIL

    With the vehicle still up on the ramps, add five quarts of new oil via the oil filler tube accessed from the top of the engine.  Using an in-expensive funnel helps keep the top of the engine clear of oil drips.  You may want to use an old rag or shop cloth and wrap around the area of the oil fill tube just in case you get a little sloppy.

    Put the oil filler tube cap back on, ensuring it is screwed on tight.  Check for immediate leaks around the oil filter canister area and the oil drain plug.  Tighten SLIGHTLY if there are leaks.  Do not replace the belly-pan just yet.


    With the belly-pan off and the vehicle still raised and secured on the ramps, make sure you have added at least 5 quarts of new oil, and then start the engine and allow it to idle in place for approximately two minutes, just enough to warm up the oil and get it thoroughly circulated through the engine.  Do not crawl underneath the engine while it is running but bend over and examine all around the drain plug and oil filter area.  If you see any evidence of leakage, immediately stop the engine and correct the cause of the leak.

    Once you are satisfied that there are no oil leaks, shut off the engine and replace the belly-pan.  If you completely removed the belly-pan, slide it back into place and engage the two back brackets into their holes.  Now lift the front edge of the pan and allowing it to slide forward slightly on the back brackets.  The holes in the back brackets will align with the two threaded studs hanging down.  The front end of the pan should snap over the latch in the front which will temporarily hold it in place.

    Replace and loosely tighten the two 10mm nuts at the rear brackets.  Replace all four 13mm hex-head bolts.  You may want to loosely install all four bolts before re-tightening them all.  This allows for some slight movement and adjustment that may be necessary to get all four bolt holes lined up.  Don't forget to fully tighten the two 10mm nuts at the rear brackets.

    8. CHECK LEVELS AND FOR LEAKS (yes, again)

    Remove the blocks from the back tires, start the engine, and  back off the ramps and move the vehicle to a flat level area.  Put the Rialta in park, set the emergency brake, and turn off the engine.  Wait about two minutes for all engine oil to re-collect in the bottom of the engine crankcase.  Check the oil level using the dipstick.  For those not in the know, you need to pull out the dipstick and wipe it off with a clean, lint-free cloth.  Re-insert the dipstick in the tube and make sure it is in all the way.  Wait about 5-10 seconds. Pull the dipstick back out and check the level.  If it is within the acceptable levels (see the EuroVan manual), do not add more oil.

    If the level is too low, add a LITTLE more oil from the sixth quart of oil, checking the level with the dipstick between each adding.  On mine, I end up around 5.4 quarts total.  Do NOT overfill because excess oil will be churned out in the exhaust and possibly destroy the catalytic converter.

    You should now be completely finished.  Look around and make sure you don't have any bolts or parts left over!

    9. CLEAN UP

    Now you're just left with clean-up.  Make sure you dispose of the used oil AND filter element properly.  Let's keep them out of the landfills and other improper dumpsites.  Most AutoZones and other major auto supply stores provide disposal of used oil and some will take the filter as well.  Some municipal garbage collection services will take your used motor oil if you pour it back into the empty screw top containers that you used.  This is an important step in the process -- do the right thing or just have a professional change your oil.


    Make sure you make some kind of a log entry in your VW EuroVan Maintenance Book that you changed oil and/or filter.  Make a note of the odometer reading and the date.  If the need ever rises for a warranty claim, these log entries should suffice and indicate that you took reasonable care of the vehicle as prescribed by VW.  Your warranty does NOT require that you have a VW dealer perform this simple maintenance.

    That's it.  Although it might sound like quite a job for a first-timer, if you've ever done an oil change before, most of this stuff should be second nature to you.  Now that you're done, pat yourself on the back for saving about $100-150 some RV dealership charge for an oil change.

    Now, done with your Oil Change on your 2000 EuroVan chassis vehicle but want to reset your "Service Engine" light if it's flashing? See the "Service Reminder Indicator" section on this page.


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    Service Reminder Indicator (SRI)


    The model year 2000 EuroVan included an automatic Maintenance Reminder system that would flash the "Service OIL" or "Service INSP" light that on the instrument cluster where the trip odometer miles are normally displayed.  This reminder will flash for about two minutes when you first start the engine and then it will go out automatically.  This is NOT an indication of a malfunction but rather just a friendly service reminder that VW calls the "Service Reminder Indicator" (SRI) display.  It is interesting to note that only the 2000 EuroVan has this feature and it is not found on any other model of car in the VW line or any other production year.  Apparently they figured out that it was a bad idea, something it took the owners less than a week to come to the same conclusion.

    Please note that this is NOT the "CHECK ENGINE" yellow icon that may display in the center area of the instrument cluster.  That "CHECK ENGINE" display is an indicator that the engine computer has noted some type of fault that needs to be diagnosed by a VW dealer.

    When the VW dealer performs the oil change, one part of the procedure involves hooking your vehicle up to the computer system which normally will download your vehicle VIN and mileage information into a database that is supposedly available at any dealership.  In other words, you can be at any VW dealership and they can tell via the database information if your vehicle received all the required maintenance.  However, there is a problem with VW dealers servicing Rialtas in that a lot of them have the heavy duty hydraulic lifts required for the Rialtas installed at the exterior of the service bays and therefore the computer hook-up may or may not be available.  Some dealers will manually reset the service mileage reminder and some are totally ignorant of the procedure required.

    And after 5 years of research, I was finally able to determine that the mileage interval is hard coded into the Engine Control Module for illuminate the "Service Oil" indicator every 7,500 kilometers (4,660 miles).

    Here is the method to manually reset the SRI after performing a service:

    1. Switch ignition OFF.

    2. Press and hold down the trip odometer reset button at the lower right of the instrument cluster.

    3. Switch ignition ON and release the trip odometer reset button. It is not necessary to start the engine; merely turn the key until the ignition is ON.

    4. The trip mileage area now displays "Service OIL".

    5. If trip odometer reset button is now pressed again, the display turns to "Service INSP".  Pressing the button again will cycle the display back to "Service OIL".

    6. When the reminder that needs to be reset (either OIL or INSP) is displayed, turn button for setting the clock (at lower left of instrument cluster) to the right.  The display changes to "Service ----".  That reminder is now reset.

    7. The second reminder is unaffected unless it is displayed by pressing trip odometer reset button and the clock button is turned right again.

    8. Switch ignition OFF and back ON to resume normal display.

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    Page Updated: 24 June 2018