DIY Van Servicing: How to Service Your Own Van & Save Money

Salty Vanventures
by Salty Vanventures

Today, I'm going to show you how to service your own van and save money. My dad is a retired mechanic, with 40 years of experience in van servicing. He's here to help me show you how to do a full service.

What do you need to service a van?

What do you need to get started?

You’ll need oil, a fuel filter, an oil filter, a sump plug washer, a pollen filter, and an air filter. Silicon spray will be used for the final touches to make everything run more smoothly. 


As far as tools, you’ll need oil filter removal tools, a socket set with some spanners ,and a bucket to collect used oil.


So, we've got a double bagged plastic bucket with a lid. We're going to fill it up with the oil, waste oil, and the diesel from the diesel filter, and then dispose of it in the oil disposal place in town. 


How often should you do van servicing?

Ideally, van servicing should happen every 5,000 mile, but it really depends how much you drive. If you drive a lot in a year, you can go 6,500 before changing the oil. Otherwise, you can use your service book as a guide to what has to be replaced at every stage: air filter, fuel filter and pollen filter. 

Driving van up onto jack stands

Changing the oil filter 

I’ve driven the van onto a pile of bricks, just to get a bit more clearance underneath. If you do have jack stands, you can use them instead. I’ve also put some logs behind the back wheels, so that the van can’t roll forward.

Draining the oil

To drain the oil, first, find the sump plug and open it. Get your bucket ready because the oil will pour out, and if you are careful, you won’t get any on your hands. Keep pressure on the sump plug as you turn it, then pull the screw out and let the oil pour out.

Replacing the oil filter

Now, replace the oil filter. I’ve prepped the new one by rubbing fresh oil around the o-ring. This will make it easier to take off in the future. 

Replacing the filter

Use the oil filter removal tool to take off the old filter. Then, screw on the new filter tightly with the tool. 

Replacing the sump plug washer

Next, replace the sump plug washer with a new one. It’s a rubber o-ring in this particular van. Then put the sump plug back in place in the van.

Letting the oil drain out

Put the old oil filter in a milk jug or something similar and use a screwdriver to bore some holes in it to let the oil drain out before throwing it away. 

Replacing the oil

Replacing the oil

Now, fill the oil back up. Don’t forget to clean the oil cap if it’s dirty. We used fully synthetic oil, which is more expensive, but it’s premium oil. 

Making a funnel with a drinks bottle

To fill up the oil without spilling, you can make a funnel from a drink bottle. 


Fill up the van with oil. According to the service menu, this van takes 10.1 liters (2.7 gallons). Check the dipstick to make sure it’s filled up all the way.

Changing the fuel filter

Changing the fuel filter

Next, undo the electrical connection for the water sensor. 

Using a wrench to remove the filter

Get your bucket ready, then use a wrench to remove the filter. 

Replacing the o-ring

Take the o-ring off the field filter cap and dispose of it. Oil up a new o-ring, and replace it onto the cap inside the groove. 

Replacing the filter

Replace the filter. Click it in place. Then screw the whole lot back into the van and plug the water filter sensor back in.

Checking the diff oil

Check the diff oil

Use a 3/8 ratchet to open the diff oil’s conical plug and see if any oil comes out. 

How to service your own van

Twist a non-metal cable tie to make a right angle (to stop it from falling in). Now, stick it into the diff oil until it touches the bottom, and then pull it out. Look at the cable tie to check how high the level of diff oil is. Also check that the oil isn’t too watery, which can happen when there is a lot of flooding. 

Replacing the plug

If the plug is dirty and has bits of metal on it, clean it off, before replacing it. 

Checking the manual transmission oil

Check the manual transmission oil

Find the manual transmission at the front of the van. Unscrew it, dip a plastic cable tie into it to check the oil, then put the cap on again.

Changing the pollen filter

Changing the pollen filter

So the next thing we're going to change is the pollen filter. It’s normally under the glove box, by the heater, or the air conditioner. 

How to service a van yourself

Push down on the two little tabs and the whole glove box comes down. Pull off the cover, and pull out the old filter.

Difference between new and used filter

You can see the difference between a new filter, and one that has had quite a bit of use. Put the new filter in, and close up the glove box. 

Changing the air filter

Changing the air filter

Find the air filter under the hood on the right side. Disconnect the intake hose and pull out the air filter cover. 

Cleaning out the air mass flow meter

Clean out the air mass flow meter. The meter has a sensor that tells the van about the air and temperature. 

Air mass meter cleaner

Inside is a tiny wire, which needs to be cleaned with a special air mass meter cleaner. 

Replacing the air filter

Replace the filter, and click it back into place.


Checking the hood

Make sure the hose connections are clean, the coolant level hasn’t dropped, and that no hose connections are corrupted.

Twisting the air-conditioning belt

Twist the air-conditioning belt slightly to check for cracks. If there are cracks, it needs to be replaced. 

Cleaning out the drain

Clean out the drain at the top of the hood, because it can fill up with leaves and dirt, and allow water to enter the engine.

Can you service your own van?

Finishing up

Silicon spray your window glides. This will make your windows go up and down more smoothly and last longer.


It's a good idea to test your wiper blades as well. If there are issues, you can replace them at any automotive store.

Check your lights: indicators, tail lights, stop lights, reverse lights, number plate lights, high beams, low beams, and fog lights. Our van has a spotlight as well. 

Oil sticker on the windshield

Put the oil sticker onto the windshield.

DIY van servicing

DIY van servicing

And that’s all. What van servicing do you do to keep your van driving smoothly? Let us know in the comments. 

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