24 May 2011

Anyone with experience/advice re "oil extractor pumps" ?

This weekend I managed to change the oil in my lawnmower, and have been pondering trying to change the oil in our car, but I'm not eager to crawl underneath the vehicle to access the drain plug.

I've discovered that several companies make devices similar to the one shown - a vacuum pump that pulls the old oil up through the dipstick tube.  I browsed a couple automotive forums, where I saw comments pro and con.  The device apparently can't get out the last remnants of the old oil at the bottom of the system, but it seems to me that replacing 90% of the oil would be useful, and the old stuff would be diluted with the new and be replaced the next time.  But some commenters said there's a "sludge" and metallic grit that has to be drained downward by gravity.  Others noted that the oil filter still has to be changed via access under the car. 

Has anyone used something like this?  Is it worth the $50 expense?


  1. I've used a similar pump for something else... power steering fluid maybe, I forget.

    $50 sounds high. Additionally, unless your car rides ridiculously low to the ground, changing the oil the proper way should be very easy.

    You just need the right size wrench, maybe a stick to whack it with if its stuck, and a catch pan ($15?).

    Also FYI after you collect the old oil (recommend a catch pan with a lid) you can take it to Wal-Mart and they will dispose of it for you.

  2. I recommend contacting Tom and Ray the Tappet Brothers at cartalk.com. I'm sure that you would get an answer albeit an answer laced with humor.

  3. Just doing it the old fashioned way is little trouble to begin with. As said above, you still need to get your hands dirty to change the filter (though special wrenches can minimize this).

    I change my oil, it takes maybe 30 minutes total, 15 of which is waiting for oil to drain, and 10 is prepping/cleaning up. Cost is about $19 w/tax for a filter and 5Q of motor oil.

    Waste oil can be taken to most any auto shop (call ahead) or if you are in a more rural area, one of your neighbors probably uses a waste oil furnace for his workshop/barn. Donations are welcome. :)

  4. Like previous commenters have pointed out, getting under there isn't that bad. However, there is a better way!

    First, get yourself a pair of wheel ramps. Rhino Ramps are insanely popular, but it's possible to find cheaper ones:


    Then, get yourself a fumoto valve and install it where the oil plug goes:


    I have one for every car I own. It makes changing oil a breeze. Using the ramps (unless your car is really low clearance) you'll simply just reach under and flick the valve open. You'll still have to get your hands dirty taking out the filter, but the valve does a great job.

  5. Oil changes are the single most important regular maintenance you can perform on your car!

    If your car's an old beater, then fine, go ahead and buy that piece of crap and suck up "all but the last 10%" (oh yeah, the 10% that's got all the nasty stuff you don't want in your engine).

    If your car is somewhat newer and means anything to you, you'll either go to the trouble to do the change yourself or fork over the money and go to the dealer and get it done (our Toyota dealer charges $29.00 - a steal to have oil changed w/ records kept to ensure the future value of your car)

  6. That's why the drain plug is magnetized. Ferrous shavings stick to the drain plug, so you gotta unscrew it to wipe it clean with a rag.

  7. Newer cars (by 2001 model, for example) have the filter hanging at the bottom (for the Jiffy Lube guys to quickly access), so you have to drive your car up on a ramp anyway. Getting under and messing with the filter can be a lot messier and uncontrolled than unscrewing the drain plug. That quick release plug looks great, though...

  8. Only use the extractor for applications that require it like an inboard engined boat.

    The oil filter has by far the largest potential for spillage and mess of the entire job. Filters are located solely by engine design. Oil change technicians are never a consideration in that design. Production cost savings are the primary consideration.

    Tom and Ray are not a reliable source of automotive information. They're only in it for the humor and money. Any fragments of useful info are purely incidental.

    The quicky valve is nifty but that also leaves some additional oil in the pan.

    For DIY get the ramps, drain container, filter wrench and drain plug wrench. Find a sufficiently knowledgeable friend to walk you through it one time. Ideally use the friend's equipment before purchasing your own in case the run-through gives you a renewed appreciation for having it done.

    Vehicle manufacturers recommended oil change intervals are frequently twice what the oil change joints like to encourage. That might be enough of a savings to make having it done more appealing. If you DIY remember to perform the other maintenance that goes with it like lubrication and fluid level checks.

  9. There's a $10 difference between DYI and having a garage mechanic do it.
    That's an easy choice to me.

  10. A few of the more expensive automobiles do not have oil drain plugs, necessitaing a pump. Most boats with inboard engines have pumped oil for years. Beats removing the engine to do it.

    PS: The oil came from the earth in the first place.

  11. "There's a $10 difference between DYI and having a garage mechanic do it.
    That's an easy choice to me."

    That $10 difference includes the cost of the device, which you can reuse. Each subsequent oil change would save you maybe $30. Figure 20 oil changes for your car, it adds up.

    Not to mention sitting two hours at your Jiffilube or dealer shop every time.

  12. You have GOT to be kidding. Change your own oil? To do what, exactly? Save five bucks an hour? I used to do about half my own maintenance, 18 years ago when I lived in America. My rule was "I'll do it if I save $20 per hour." When these quick-change shops opened up the savings dropped to about $5/hour when you count changing into and out of old clothes, showering and disposing of the toxic waste properly.

  13. PS: The oil came from the earth in the first place.

    Where do you live so we can dump our oil in your front yard and your kid's sandbox? Hey, it's the earth, right?

  14. I have used the oil extractor pump method since the early 2000s. I've owned BMWs since and they have the oil filter accessible through the engine bay from the top, usually next to the valve cover. All you do is open the oil filter cover and change the paper filter element only from the housing, and screw the cover back on. No need whatsoever to get under the car. I would still lift my car and change the oil the old-fashioned way after about 5 oil changes during the first 2 years just to check on any metal shavings that might be stuck in the oil drain plug, but it was always very clean and I gained confidence in this method. Most European brands use the vaccumm pumps at dealerships as their factory method for replacing the oil.

  15. Prof. Roger Kovaciny,

    I have a high poerformance car that uses full synthetic oil. Taking it a Jiffy Lube would cost about $80 USD, doing it myself costs less than $35. No need to change clothes, just open the hood, pump the old oil from the dipstick tube, change the oil filter, and refill. Definitelly worth it for me.

  16. Getting under your car a couple times a year is a good thing, especially up north in rust country. It gives you a chance to grease the front end, check the brake pads, and look for anything out of the ordinary like rust issues on the frame, exhaust, brake lines, etc.

    Don't forget to change the fuel filter at the specified intervals while you're under there. A dirty filter can overheat your fuel pump which can easily be a $500 repair on a lot of newer cars.

  17. These pumps are made fr boats with an inboard engine. There is no other reasonable way to change your oil, because you can't put a drain pan under the engine due to the restricted clearance.

    However, these manual pumps are a real pain to use, and just don't produce enough suction. I have one I used once, and it's back in the original box. It's junk.

    If you must change your oil from the dipstick tube, but an electric pump that runs off of the vehicle's battery.

    Change it hot, and often.


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