The Mess Free Oil Change

Written by Chloe Harwood

Ask a do-it-yourselfer how they feel about changing the engine oil in their car and you’ll probably hear something like “I don’t.” And you really can’t blame them for that sentiment. After all, unless you work at a garage with a car lift, changing the oil in your car means that you have to crawl under the blasted car. And few find this a very enjoyable experience. What if there was a way to change your oil without crawling under your car? As it turns out there is: using Oil Extractors.

Oil extractors

Oil extractors are relatively new tools that suck the oil out of your engine and deposit it into a plastic tank. Sounds crazy but they work quite well. What you do is thread a thin plastic tube down into your dipstick opening until it hits the bottom of your oil pan. Then you pump up the extractor to develop a vacuum and release a valve which pulls the oil up into the extractor’s tank. It’s simple and easy. Best part is, you can leave the oil right in the extractor until you have a chance to bring it to a recycling center.

An extractor profile

There are many extractors on the market today but let’s take a look at one common one. It’s the Briggs and Stratton 5431 Oil Extractor Pump. It holds 4 liters of oil and you can buy it for $40-$50 depending on the retail outlet. Did you note the fact that it’s made by Briggs and Stratton? The lawnmower engine people? Yes, these extractors are good for far more than just changing oil in cars and trucks. You can also use it for changing the oil in lawnmowers, tractors and even emergency power generators. This is a far cry from the old days when changing the oil in a small gasoline engine meant leaning the machine on its side and catching the oil in some sort of container. A truly messy job at best.

Back to your car

When considering changing your own engine oil, you may be wondering why one would even bother. Oil changes at your local Jiffy Lube are usually not that expensive. That being said, there are exceptions. For example, if you have a car with a lot of plastic underbody panels, you may find that some of these panels need to be removed for oil changes. Our sources at Coachella Valley Volkswagen of Indio, CA, Garages and oil change shops usually charge extra for this. For some cars, you may be looking at a $150 bill for an oil change and new filter just because of the labor involved. Contrast this with using an oil extractor. With an extractor, you can simply suck the old oil up out of the drain pan and then add fresh oil. This process will take about 30 minutes and cost just $30.   


While researching this story, we found a lot of postings where people were expressed concern that an oil extractor might leave some “dirty oil” still in the crankcase. In particular, the real thick sludgy stuff that sinks to the bottom of your oil pan. Well, according to the extractor manufacturers, this is an unwarranted fear. If one takes time to make sure that all the oil possible is extracted by repositioning the suction tube, just a teaspoon or so of oil remains in your pan. And this, of course, becomes massively diluted when fresh oil is added anyway.

Your local dealer

Our technical contact at Paul Conte Chevrolet of Freeport, NY reminds us of one more factor to consider; in some cases, your local dealer may eliminate the whole oil change necessity entirely.  Here’s how: make sure you are on your local dealer’s emailing list. You may find that they periodically send out coupons for free or low-cost oil changes and other service specials.  You can’t deny that value, “a free oil change.”

Final Thoughts
Extractors cost $40-$50 but this will be quickly offset by the savings you will realize by doing this yourself. The best part is that these devices can be used on most of the other internal combustion engines you have in your life too. These things aren’t quite game changers but, boy can they be helpful.

About the author

Chloe Harwood