Just as I passed the 86,000km mark in my otherwise trouble-free Micra, the check engine light came on. It was rather unceremonious; the car didn’t do anything dramatic, I just looked down to check my speed and noticed that the light was on. I got home and plugged in my code reader (something I needed with my Pontiac and never thought I’d use on my Micra), and found out what the problem was.

Checking codes with my code reader

P0075 means that there’s something wrong with the camshaft timing oil control solenoid valve. I didn’t know exactly where it was on my engine, so I disconnected the wire from what I thought it was, started the car, then checked for any new codes. If no new codes showed up, then I found it. If I got another code, then I note what was disconnected with that code, reconnect it, then move on. Lucky for me, I got it on the first try. It’s located here:

Location of the Camshaft Timing Oil Control Solenoid Valve
Location of the Camshaft Timing Oil Control Solenoid Valve

It’s held onto the side of the engine with a single 8mm bolt located just below the solenoid valve; I found an 8mm deep socket was perfect for reaching it.

The Camshaft Timing Oil Control Solenoid Valve removed
The Camshaft Timing Oil Control Solenoid Valve removed

I removed it from the engine and blasted it with WD-40. After doing a thorough cleaning with WD-40, I put it back in, reconnected it, cleared the codes, and started the car back up. The check engine light didn’t come back on.

This part is exactly the same as found in the 1.6L Nissan Versa, and could probably be purchased inexpensively from a scrap yard. Another alternative would be to purchase a refurbished one from overseas. However, mine seems to work fine after the WD-40 cleaning. I hope all my repairs will be this simple!

2015 Micra headlight change

Last week, the passenger side headlight burned out on the low beam side. While this might seem premature (I’ve had the vehicle for less than a year), consider that I’ve put on around 35,000km on the car, and most of that driving has been with the headlights on due to the fact that I generally drive to work before the sun goes up, and always have the headlights on when it’s raining, snowing, or foggy…and we got a ton of snow this year. It’s a wear-and-tear item.

On my previous car, a Grand Am GT, the headlight change was a bit of an ordeal that required removal of the entire headlight assembly and typically the replacement of a plastic ring. On the Micra, the headlight change is remarkably easy. Things I liked about Nissan’s design over what I had before:

  • Steel retainer ring is much less likely to break than a plastic screw-on ring
  • Easily accessible without needing to remove anything
  • Smaller light inside headlight housing illuminates headlight assembly after headlight has burned out

And so, with no further ado, my video on changing the headlight on the 2015 Nissan Micra:

Part number 9003, or H4.

DIY oil change

Changing the motor oil in the 2015 Micra is incredibly easy. There’s no need to jack the car up, nor is there any reason to crawl beneath. Both the oil pan drain bolt and the oil filter are easily well within arms’ reach; simply put a comfortable pad in front of the Micra on which to lie upon, and prepare to save even more shekels!

The Shopping List

The Micra’s engine takes 3.5 liters of regular 5W30 oil. No need to waste money on synthetic; the engine has been engineered to minimize running costs, so 3.5 liters of regular oil is good for up to 8,000 kilometers. Change it along with the filter by then, and this engine should last for a long time.

Buying the large convenience containers of oil can make it difficult to determine how much oil has been poured into the engine, as these containers typically hold 4 or 4.4 liters of oil. It can be done, but then you’ll either be wasting half to 0.9 liters of oil, or you’ll need another container to store either the waste oil or the left-over oil. Just pouring all the oil in isn’t advisable, as this can cause damage to the engine. Going with single 1 liter containers makes this a lot easier. I buy seven one liter bottles to provide enough oil for two oil changes.

2015 Micra oil filter
2015 Micra oil filter

There’s also the oil filter. Part number 15208-65F0E, it’s $10 at the Nissan dealership, and is the smallest car oil filter I’ve ever changed on a car. I could probably have saved a few more shekels buying an aftermarket oil filter, but I decided that, at least for the first couple of oil changes, I’d go for the official Nissan oil filter. Since I bought enough oil for two oil changes, it made sense to buy two oil filters.

The drain plug bolt on the Micra uses a copper crush washer to create a seal; these are 99 cents each at the dealership. The purpose of the crush washer is so that a perfect seal can be created with very little torque, which means less stress on the oil pan threads, ensuring trouble-free oil changes for years to come. I bought a dozen of these, but for the purposes of this exercise, we’ll only need two.

Uncrushed crush washer
Uncrushed crush washer

Next, we’ll need something to catch the oil in. I bought an oil drain pan from Princess Auto for $2.99. It doesn’t need to be very large. In addition to this, I’d pick up two funnels; one for the clean oil, and one for the dirty oil. The one for the dirty oil should fit in the neck of a bottle of oil, and the one for the clean oil should fit nicely in the oil fill normally closed off by the oil cap.

As for tools, the only one that’s really needed is a wrench. An adjustable one will work, but if you want to do a proper job, a 14mm box wrench or socket is the proper size. If you don’t have a metric set, then a 9/16 will work. In addition to this, you may wish to opt for an oil filter wrench. This can make the removal of the old oil filter much easier. Take the filter with you to test the size.

To summarize what’s required for two oil changes:

  • Seven one liter bottles of 5W30 motor oil
  • Two oil filters, part number 15208-65F0E, or equivalent
  • Two crush washers
  • One Oil drain pan
  • Two funnels
  • 14mm or 9/16 socket or wrench, or adjustable wrench
  • Small oil filter wrench

Pre-oil change steps

Oil flows better when it’s warm. It’s also easier to remove the old oil filter when it’s warm. As such, I like to start with my engine warmed up. I do let it cool down to prevent the possibility of burning myself, so while I’m waiting, I prepare with the following steps:

  1. Draw a line in black marker at the half liter point on one of the bottles
  2. Place the oil drain pan in a location under the plug, with most of the pan positioned towards the rear of the car
  3. Record the mileage and date on the part of the oil filter box that has the bar code, and file it in the package that contains my owner’s manual.

With that done, it’s time to start.

The drain bolt, located a mere 61cm (2 feet) from the front bumper
The drain bolt, located a mere 61cm (2 feet) from the front bumper

Step 1: Drain the oil

This is simple enough. Using the wrench, turn the bolt counter-clockwise. Be aware that you’re facing the opposite side of the bolt if you’re doing this from the front of the car, so if you’re looking towards the rear of the car from the front, this would be a clockwise turn from this perspective. Do be careful; it’s important not to turn the drain bolt in tighter, as this may damage the threads. It’s only necessary to use the wrench to loosen the drain plug bolt; once it’s loosened, it can be removed with your fingers. I recommend wearing blue nitrile gloves to prevent oil from dripping onto your hands, as used motor oil is a known carcinogenic.

Step 2: Remove the old oil filter

Relocate the oil drain pan so it can catch the drips from the drain plug hole and the oil that will fall from the oil filter when it’s been removed, then simply unscrew the old filter. It might be on really tight like the lid to a new jar of pickles, so this is when you’ll be glad you got that oil filter wrench. After removal, dump the oil into the oil drain pan.

Step 3: Replace the drain bolt

The old crush washer will be crushed onto the bolt, so you may not notice it at first. I used a utility box cutting knife to remove it, then I threaded the new one on, with the smaller end towards the top of the bolt. I threaded the drain bolt in until it made contact, then, using my wrench, I tightened the drain bolt just past hand tight.

Step 4: Install new oil filter

If the new oil filter has plastic wrap on it, remove that first. Open up a bottle of new motor oil, and using your (gloved) finger, dip a finger in, get some oil, and smear it around the rubber O-ring gasket on the filter. This will ensure the gasket will create a proper seal.

As you may have guessed, the new oil filter screws on where the old one came off. Don’t use any tools to tighten it; the filter only needs to be hand tight. The official Nissan filter requires it to be turned past 2/3 of a turn after the gasket makes contact with the engine block; I managed to get a full turn easily.

Important locations
Important locations

Step 5: Add the oil

Using one of the funnels, I add the oil in three steps. I add the first liter of oil, then check for leaks. If all looks good, I add another two liters of oil, then I start the engine and let it run for a few seconds. This gets rid of any air pockets, which could cause the crankcase to be overfilled if I had filled it up completely. After that, I add the final half liter of oil and put the cap back on.

Step 6: Dispose of used motor oil

Using the second funnel, I pour the used motor oil into the now empty bottles and cap them. I then set these aside with the oil filter for proper disposal at my local waste management facility.

Step 7: Update your records

While a car is still under warranty, it’s important to keep records of your oil changes. I tear off the bar code portion of the oil filter box, and record the date and mileage on the back of that. I then store that with my owner’s manual.

Some people use the second trip counter to calculate the next oil change by resetting it, others like to note the actual mileage. Pick a method and stick to it. It’s okay to change oil early, but to protect the warranty, I wouldn’t let it go a single kilometer past 8,000.

That’s it! Once you’ve done it, it becomes easier the next time. The whole process can be done in under 20 minutes at a time that’s convenient for you. I believe it not only saves money, it also saves time and I know the job has been done right.

I’ve made a video highlighting the elements of my first oil change with my Micra:

Using the spare tire

I decided to make a short video on how to use the spare tire in the 2015 Nissan Micra.

Just a couple observations and thoughts about maintenance:

  •  I would lower and remove the spare tire every six months as part of the maintenance schedule. This will give you an opportunity to check the air pressure of the spare tire, and ensure the mechanism is working properly. I’m going to do mine once in the spring, and once in the fall.
  • I think a light coating of grease on the threads and the clip should protect it from corrosion and keep it working trouble-free.