Drain oil, add new oil... find oil everywhere. It spills, the funnel is full of it when I'm done and drips forever, and I'm pouring kitty litter all over the driveway. If I had a proper garage this would be simple, but as a shade-tree guy, I never quite figured it out.

Any answers about things like draining the oil filter, containing all the oil, what to do with my oil-soaked rags?

8 Answers 8


Oil changes are a boring job!

As Hasen says, a larger size oil catch pan is the only real solution. Before you start, try and estimate the direction of flow. If the drain plug is on the side of the sump (oil pan), the oil will begin to flow horizontally, curving down with gravity, and hit the ground around 9-12" out from the hole - assuming you're worknig with the car on stands around 18" - 2' above the ground. As the pressure (and thus flow rate) drops, the point of impact will move back towards a point vertically below the hole. Therefore, you need to make sure your catch pan covers all of this area (or move it as the flow lessens if you have a small one).

Drain the oil with the engine warm, but not hot, as this helps it to flow better, and takes more sediment/gunk with it. But be careful, otherwise you'll get hot oil down your arm as you withdraw the drain plug...

I usually then leave it for half an hour or so to drain fully before removing the drain pan and replacing the plug.

Once it has fully drained, put the catch pan under the filter and remove it carefully, then pour the oil into the catch pan. I then leave the filter face-down in the drain pan for a while.

The only way to sort the funnel is to pour slower and more carefully.

Top Tip: Check the new filter is on properly before pouring a gallon of oil in the top - a mistake you only make once!

Disposal: In the UK the local councils have facilities for disposal of engine oil at their waste disposal sites, so I decant the old oil into the can the new oil came in, then put the old filter (and rags) face-up in the box the new one came in, double-wrap it in plastic bags, then take the lot to the council site.

  • 2
    In the US, oil can usually go to the transfer station (AKA the dump) where there will be a catch can for the oil and a container for oil filters. Remember to bring those filters: there's still plenty of oil trapped in there and, if they crush them, that oil is recoverable.
    – Bob Cross
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 16:02
  • In Hawaii, they sell an "oil change box". The used oil goes into the box and then you tape it up and leave it for disposal. 'Disposal' means 'burn it all in an incinerator and let the fumes blow out over the Pacific'.
    – timbo
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 1:39

As a fellow driveway warrior I feel your pain. I have a good experience with getting a large diameter oil container. If your car has its oil filter in a tough location you are just gonna have to live with some mess. But large easy to grab container helps. If I wanted to spend the cash I would shoot for a remote oil filter. A lot of BMW's have their oil filters in a nice spot up front angled vertically which makes that clean. As for the funnel just get good at pouring from the bottle. That's what I do. Or use a disposable paper funnel. Hope that answer helps : )


three things:

1) replace your drain plug with a spring loaded quarter turn ball cock valve. do an amazon search for: "Fumoto Engine Oil Drain Valve" I got the one with a 3/8" nipple allowing me to attach 2 foot long plastic hose to direct the used oil directly into my collection pan. The device is spring loaded into the off position which makes it 100% secure from having an accidental release of oil. and because its a valve it gives you a mess free way to perform a controlled drain of your vehicle.

2) often its the oil filter removal that is the messiest as it leaks oil over its sides and/or onto parts of car/truck do an amazon search for: "Truck and Tractor FORM-A-FUNNEL Flexible Draining Tool"
this is rubber sheet which molds into whatever shape you make it. simply unroll it, create/mold it into whatever shape you need to catch the drips and direct the flow around parts and directy into your collection pan. when your done use some paper towels wipe down the sheet back into flat shape and store for next time.

3) get a drain pan which is als your storage/transport container. do an amazon search for "FloTool 42003MI Drain Container, 16 quart" this device has spot to drain your filter from step 2 and a wide catch face to collect the oil and direct the flow into its interior. when your done use some paper towels wipe down the face, attach the plugs and your ready to store or transport the oil for recycling.

Not that I would wear church clothes for changing oil but if you have the right stuff, no reason you couldn't.

  • favorited for this
    – elrobis
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 18:26

Here's a tip for pouring the oil in: pour from the "wrong" side of the container. It's easier to control the start when you do that.


Disposal: I cannot speak for your region (ME, so I guess Maine), but here I can dispose used oil to Canadian Tire(Sears-like store) stores where they have containers. In my town, they have what they call "eco-center", where citizens can dispose used oil and any others waste. Check in your area.

  • I bring it to my friend's auto shop. He has a used oil heating system. It's the getting it there without a mess operation that challenges me. Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 15:21
  • Okay, I was refering to the Disposal in your question's title ;) For the mess, I do the same as Nick C answer for all my car and I only get a few drip. Good luck! Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 15:28

Recycled oil containers

Free 5 gallon plastic cooking oil containers are commonly found at the back of cafe's where deep frying is done.
These are fine disposable containers for used motor oil.
Include the screw on lid, and the cardboard box it came with. The box helps protect it from sunlight degradation.
Get a fresh oil container each time you recycle that old oil.


As for disposal, I found a good resource for finding a local oil recycling center. Earth911.com has a search engine for finding places to recycle all sorts of things including used motor oil and lead-acid batteries (finally I can get rid of the pile in my garage!).

It turns out, most Auto Parts stores will do this, also Tractor Supply and WalMart stores (with an auto center) tend to as well.


I bought a washing machine drip pan at Home Depot.Iput my catch bucket on that to keep the drive way clean.Most auto supply stores sell a container that is a combination catch pan transport container.no need to transfer just bring the whole thing to recycle the contents.It will hold about 15 quarts or three changes.

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