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From the obsessive compulsive department:

I've been changing my own oil by driving up on a pair of ramps, draining and filling. Based on a slight overfill condition after adding the specified amount of oil and returning the vehicle to level, I know I'm not getting all the old oil out. This makes sense, since the drain plug is towards the front of the oil pan. Oil must be pooling at the back of the pan due to the angle from the ramps. It can't be more than a couple or three ounces.

I'm not worried about the slight excess. Shaving a couple ounces off the amount added next time will put it spot on. I don't like the idea of leaving a measurable amount of dirty oil if I can avoid it, especially on the one vehicle that only gets out of the garage a few months a year.

I suppose I can try and get another pair of ramps under the rear wheels if they'll fit. Jacking up the rear to level the vehicle would work, too, I guess. Any other ideas? Am am I the only nut that worries about a couple ounces of dirty oil?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

For OCD you can place a flat pan below the oil drain and lower the front wheels to get the remaining oil out, then jack it up again.

Though I would not worry about couple of ounces in your place. Even if your car is level old oil will still remain in the engine (other cavities, thin film, etc.).

For example in my engine that takes 4L of fresh oil, 2 ounces is less than 1.5% of it.

In case you need to flush the old oil completely (e.g. after filling with wrong type of oil) you could use a oil flush mixture (drain old, refill with flusher, idle 5-10 min, drain, fill new oil).

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You'll never get all the oil out anyway - a lot of it is left coating the innards of the engine! I'll second the "don't worry about it" comments. –  Nick C Apr 12 '12 at 10:25
To take Nicks comment a step further... My drains are on the back of the oil pan (on both cars), so it's the lowest point while jacked up in the front. Books says a wet fill should be 4.5qt. I only put in 4qt and they still both show 0.2-0.3 overfilled when I'm done... You're not going to get all the oil out no matter what you do! :-) –  Brian Knoblauch Apr 12 '12 at 12:04

You can get more oil out of the bottom if you take pan off once it's empty. The difficulty of doing this will vary by car, of course. Just be careful if the oil is hot. And you will probably need a new gasket for when you put it back on.

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This is completely unnecessary unless you've got contaminants such as sand in your oil, and then you'd need to tear apart a lot more than just the pan. –  Kevin Vermeer Apr 17 '12 at 9:57
@Kevin Vermeer I know that. But it does answer the question of getting as much oil out as possible. Note, too, that some service manuals as recent as only 25 years ago still recommended doing this. –  staticsan Apr 17 '12 at 23:39
Not an option in my case, unfortunately. Getting the oil pan off requires lifting the engine. –  Mark Johnson Apr 23 '12 at 20:55

Use a pump to remove the oil, and skip the ramps -- unless needed for the filter. I can not imagine it makes any difference-- some oil is left no matter how well you drain. Use better oil or change more often are other answers. The oil gets dirty immediately anyway so I wouldn't want to do anything that could be unsafe like raising all 4 wheels -- just buy a good jack and stands and lower the car to the ground or go with the pump if it bothers you. I'd forget the "problem".

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