Jettas have a fairing under the engine that makes it hard (impossible) to get to the drain plug without quite a bit of work under the car, so years ago I got an oil extractor so that I could pull the oil out through the dipstick opening.

Oil was a bit low when I started and I only got out about 3 liters of old oil, since I was low and because of the oil in the filter I know I should be expecting to see an amount come out that matches the engine's oil capacity, but it got me to wondering – how important it it to get out "all" the old oil? Is it important enough to optimize your oil change technique around this, or is it OK to balance other factors like convenience?

My thinking is that some old oil must be OK since there will always be a residual surface coat and probably some in oil cooler passages, the oil pump, and who knows where else.

  • 1
    My jetta takes about 7 torx screws to remove the cover and access the bottom of the engine. 1 min of work. I prefer to do this so I can inspect for leaks and whatnot, since oil change intervals are 10K miles. Manufacturer shops often use the oil extractors, MB off the top of my head, so I imagine it's fine for your application too.
    – cory
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 20:31
  • I can only plead old age, general sloth, and working outside in rain in the case of this car. But on the other one we have a skid plate and that is a serious project to get off…
    – dlu
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 20:34

1 Answer 1


Old oil isn't poison to your engine or to the new motor oil you are putting in. When you are doing an oil change, whatever old oil is left behind (along with the particulates floating around) will get diluted into the new oil. The less old oil there is the better, of course.

Most oil pans are designed to hold onto a little bit of old oil. If you look at them, the drain plug always sits a tiny little bit higher than the actual bottom of the pan. And when you are using the drain plug, you always reach a point where the oil isn't flowing out anymore, it's only dripping out. Drip. Drip. Drip. You could let it drip for hours and still not get most of the leftover out.

A good rule of thumb is to get out whatever comes out easily. Don't sweat it, as long as it's 80%-90% of the oil that's in there, whatever leftovers will be diluted 5-10 fold by the new oil. Worst case, you will need an oil change a tiny little bit sooner.

  • Was about to post the same thing. Nice answer.
    – CharlieRB
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 21:00
  • Indeed, and my conscience is feeling better too…
    – dlu
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 21:07
  • Just to feel better about not pulling the plug, I would use your oil extractor, then pull the plug (hopefully for the last time)and validate that you are in fact getting most of the old oil out. If you are satisfied with the results then never pull the plug again.
    – mikes
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 22:49
  • @mikes Simple math should validate this. How much oil is coming out, how much oil is being added, what's the known oil capacity of the engine.
    – tlhIngan
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 22:56
  • I agree except that usually some oil is used or lost between changes and some is in the filter. Measuring that amount by the dip stick reading isn't particularly accurate.
    – mikes
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 23:00

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