Today we're sharing how we spruce up our car using #WalmartAuto Castrol products from Walmart, as part of a sponsored post for Socialstars.

Winter is coming. Followed by every other season after that. And, well, preceded by every season before it. Reflecting on this cycle, it is somewhat intriguing to think that this will be my 30th winter.

Nate with dogs

As the seasons change, so do the dynamics of our vehicles. Living in southern California, we maintain our vehicles slightly different than other parts of the country might. For example, we change our wipers more often with less rain just because of the high heat. I would have to say we as Californians are pretty hard on our engines, too. We have the 405, one of the busiest roads in America with some of the worst stop-and-go traffic that the human brain can take without snapping. It's common to drive 45 minutes or more just to commute to work.

San Diego is the county with California's four major zones; beaches, cities, mountains (sometimes with snow) and desert. Chelsea and I love to get around to all of these ‘zones' as often as possible. We live between the suburbs and rural San Diego (the perfect place if you ask me). Living away from major towns, I like to do most things myself.  That includes changing my own oil.

car tools
My grown-up oil-changing tool set.

Many winters ago, my father passed on to me the knowledge of vehicle maintenance and some advanced know-how. This included his rigid views of quality control and his old adage about shopping for parts and materials. “You can buy cheap often or buy quality once,” he would say. When shopping for oil, I learned at about eight years old that the quarts we would select were white, green and red. I had once reached for a blue or yellow bottle and my hand was slapped away. “We don't put that junk in our cars,” he scolded as he handed me the correct Castrol GTX. Ever since then, Castrol has been the lubricant of choice for me.

Chelsea with goats on car
External destructive forces. AKA goats.

While our truck is my favorite vehicle, the Hyundai Elantra is Chelsea's. It is more often than not the choice for any long distance traveling. Its first year saw more than 20,000 miles and kept on pace for the last three years. Chelsea and I want her car to last, and that's why I use my trusty Castrol to protect the insides. It's not always easy to protect from external abuse, though.

changing your own oil
Oil defining my hands.

I love changing my own oil. My brother and I used to love doing it so much that after we turned 10, my father didn't have to change his own oil until after we went to college. I even loved the way the old oil stained between the cracks in my fingers. It was like art to me.

Castrol Edge

This week, the Elantra hit 61,000 miles. I drove to Walmart and picked up a 5 quart jug of Castrol Edge 5W-20 for about $20 and put it in the trunk. I checked online first to make sure they had the kind I needed. Now, this bottle was black, but it was still my trusty Castrol. The two major reasons I love to change my oil is that I don't have to pay someone else and because it's so simple that it's almost therapeutic. The car goes up (with a warm but not hot engine), and I go under and unscrew the plug.

changing your own oil
This is a dipstick before you take it out.

It's reassuring when I lay there on my back and watch the dark viscous fluid poor out. I almost feel obligated to say “goodbye” and “job well done” as the stream thins to a hair's width and I replace the plug. After replacing the filter (hand screw on and off: so easy), I grab my oil bottle and send forth its golden elixir to the funnel. I can almost sense my car breathing a sigh of relief as I imagine its now cleansed engine feels ready to race down the road once again. The whole thing takes about 45 minutes.

Changing your own oil can add up to a ton of money savings. #WalmartAuto
This is also a dipstick. Which also happens to be one of my father's terms for my brother and I.

With our third son and my 30th winter coming on, I'm glad that we take the time to care for our cars. My family has a minimum expectation that our vehicles last ten to twelve years before we even think about replacing them (and that's with high trade in value). I guess that's why we've always used Castrol. And that's why, when they're old enough, I'll show my three boys the white and black bottles with the green and red.

changing your own oil
It may look complicated, but you can master your own engine.

We may be in the desert one week, mountains the next and the beach after that. No matter where we go, at least I'll know my car's going to work. Through all the winters I put it through.