The Top-Down Oil Change
31 Jan 2018
Ask a do-it-yourselfer how they feel about changing engine oil and you’ll probably hear that it’s not exactly a lot of fun. The not-much-fun part, of course, is when you have to crawl under the vehicle to drain the oil. This means jacking it up, sliding underneath, unscrewing the drain plug and then catching the hot, gooey stuff that begins to pour out. The second part of an oil change -adding the new oil- is much easier to do.
Well, couldn’t it be nice if you could skip the “crawling under the car” part? Then your entire oil change would take place while you are standing up – a much less annoying position. As it turns out, there is a tool that can make this possible.
Oil extractors are tools that eliminate the removal of dirty oil through the drain plug. What they do is suck the oil out of the crankcase through a thin tube inserted in the dipstick opening. The way it works is simple. A handle on the extractor is pumped repeatedly to create a vacuum that pulls the oil up the tube and into a container. Once this process is finished, the “messy part” is over and then you can start adding fresh oil into your engine.
An Example of One:
There are many extractors on the market today but let’s take a look at one carried by most auto parts supply stores: the Moeller Fluid Extractor. The Moeller Fluid Extractor costs $63 and holds five quarts of oil. It has an automatic shutoff so that when the tank is full, it stops sucking the engine oil into the tank. What’s nice about the Moeller extractor is that when it’s full, you can use it for storage until you bring the oil somewhere for recycling.
A Money Saver:
Oil changes at your local Jiffy Lube are usually not that expensive but there are many exceptions. For example, if you have a car with a lot of plastic underbody panels (these are for aerodynamics,) you may find that some need to be removed for oil changes. 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. 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.
Can You Get it All Out?
While researching this story, we found that some people are saying they are doubtful of using oil extractors. They think that a significant amount of “sludge” would be left at the bottom. In other words, an oil extractor leave some of “the bad stuff” behind.
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, just a teaspoon or so of oil remains in your oil pan. And this, of course, becomes massively diluted when fresh oil is added.
Your Local Dealer:
Our technical contact at Paul Conte Chevrolet of Freeport, NY reminds us that dealer promotions can 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.
Money spent on an oil extractor will quickly be offset by the savings you will realize by doing this yourself. For shade tree mechanics and consumers looking to cut down on maintenance costs, this simple procedure could offer you great benefits.