An oil drain valve is a device that replaces your regular drain bolt and makes an oil change a much cleaner job. When it's time for an oil change, you simply attach a hose to the oil drain valve, open the valve and everything drains cleanly.

Oil draining with an oil drain valve

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaaT5a13xY8 (note: I am in no way affiliated with this brand or anything. It's just a good demonstration).

Admittedly, for a professional, it probably doesn't really matter that much, but for an amateur just maintaining their own car, it's quite a handy tool. You don't really need to jack up your car anymore, you can't overthread (no need for a torque wrench) and everything is clean.

My question is simple: why aren't these more commonly used? It doesn't look particularly expensive, and it makes the job a whole lot easier. Are there any disadvantages?

  • On my cars, the drain bolt is angled so that it's not messy to remove. A drain valve would be handy on my motorcycle because that's a horrible mess, but there's really not enough room for one. The only place I really see them used regularly is on airplanes. Commented Mar 29, 2014 at 14:27
  • @BrianKnoblauch There should be room for one, if you use the small, 'nipple style' valves, like in this video: youtube.com/watch?v=wNKvqBPfYE0.
    – Ben
    Commented Mar 29, 2014 at 18:15

4 Answers 4


This vehicle in your example photo is a really good example for when not to use an oil drain valve.

Notice the heavy lugs on the all terrain tires? I am not sure if this vehicle is 4 wheel drive, but the tires indicate it the owner plans on driving on other than smooth paved highways.

A drain valve on an off road vehicle, is an invitation for a long walk home...

Picture this you are miles from the nearest paved road, no cell service and a rock, branch or other item comes in contact with that drain valve...

Rick stuck

If you are really lucky it will only break the valve and all your oil will run out on the ground. Best case, you planned for this, you have the oil plug and 5 quarts of oil with you, plus a buddy with a winch to pull you out (hopefully you don't try and drive out, without oil).

But because you have a strong valve connected to a sheetmetal oil pan, it will tear out; either stripping the threads or tearing the oil pan. In either case even if you have the old oil plug and lots of oil, you are still not driving home until you install a new oil pan.

If you have a highway car, there is not enough ground clearance to get the oil catch container under the car, so you have to put it up on ramps or jack stands anyhow to change the oil. This also put the drain valve closer to the ground, and at risk from speed bumps, potholes and such. You will probably be close enough to cell phone tower to call a tow truck. Unless of course you don't notice and drive the car without oil until it stops running.

  • 1
    Some very goods points, especially about the off-road vehicles; it's probably indeed not for every car, but I think it would fit some cars at least. On my car, for example, the oil drain plug is pretty well protected (see diymybmw.com/e46/wp-content/uploads/HLIC/…) and is covered by a access hatch (which is just a piece of plastic, but I've never had any damage to it, so I know that I've never had any potential damage to an oil drain valve as well).
    – Ben
    Commented Mar 29, 2014 at 18:13
  • @Ben if you do instal the drain vavle, toss the old oil plug in the trunk (with the sparetire) or glvoe box so if you do have a problem, you will have some chance of achieving the 'best case' scenario. Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 11:00

I know this is late as an answer, but the real reason the manufacturers do not fit them is COST.

When they make tens or hundreds of thousands of cars they look to save every penny, nickel, dime they can - costs are kept to a minimum.

If cost was no object there are many things that could be included - automatic jacks to help changing a wheel, Remote control drain valves for engine, gearbox and axles.... the list is long.

So, if they include it the price goes up... And what do most customers do when buying a car - they shop around and haggle for the cheapest price.


I have had one in my Toyota Camry wagon for 25 years. No problems. Very convenient. My was made by Frahm, or at least had their name on it. Not an off road vehicle obviously, but I do drive it on some rough or unmaintained roads.

  • they used to be available, that is, saw them in auto stores, but have not seen one for years. When I move to a different vehicle I may have to take it with me.
    – jeff
    Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 19:38

I have the valves on all my vehicles, c12 cat in motorhome, chev avalanche, two ram pickups. All are protected and work great. The unit in the motorhome allows me to drain a gal at a time which makes for a clean job.

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