Best Oil Extractors: Drain Old Oil Neatly and Efficiently
Get the old oil out without getting your pants dirty
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BY Evan Williams / LAST UPDATED ON October 6, 2021
What maintenance does your vehicle need most often? Oil changes. Changing your oil can be a dirty and frustrating process. You lift the vehicle, move some splash shields, pull the drain plug that the last guy rounded off, and then spill oil all over your garage floor. Take it to the mechanic and you can be talking big bucks. With an oil extractor, you can take the oil out through the dipstick tube. It’s quicker, it’s easier, and, maybe most importantly, it’s cleaner. Here are our favorite oil extractors to help make a messy job a lot easier.
An extractor that lets you use both powered pneumatic and manual pump modes. It also comes with multiple sizes of hoses to fit a wider range of vehicles and other applications
- 1.8 liter per minute speed
- Included tubes of various diameters ensure no oil is left behind
- Comes with a valve and a safety cap
- Tubes are difficult to replace if they break
- Hand pumping takes much longer than air
Just 40 pumps is enough for a full oil change in the average gas engine
- Compact footprint
- Metal container for durability
- Doesn’t need to be pumped continuously
- Doesn’t have a drain spout, which can get messy
- Overtightening the lid can leave a poor seal
This unit starts off small, and the pump is removable making it even more portable. Pressure reservoir means no continuous pumping
- Large reservoir in a small size
- Just a dozen pumps are enough to get you started on extracting
- Pump is a friction fit, so you need to hold it in place during extraction
Why Trust Us
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Best Oil Extractors Reviews & Recommendations
How We Selected Oil Extractors
When picking the best oil extraction systems, we looked at features, price, and ergonomics. A tiny pump handle and a long pump piston aren’t going to make the cut because they’re fragile and hard to use. We looked for safety features like automatic overflow protection, stable bases, and either secure lids or lids that don’t come off at all to help prevent spills. See-through sides are appreciated so you can tell how much fluid has come out, but we also understand that a metal container is important for durability in rough environments or extreme temperatures.
Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.
Buying Guide/What to Look For
Types of Oil Extractors
These work by making you pump a handle. Some pump up ahead of time and let the built-up vacuum do the work, while others make you pump and suck up fluid with each stroke. Either way, it’s you doing the work. A manual pump is great because it can be used almost anywhere, in the garage, on the jobsite, or at the off-grid cottage. Ideal for occasional use, you probably won’t want to use a manual pump for daily fluid changes.
Pneumatic extractors use compressed air to operate their pumps. While this means no pumping for you, it means that you need to have a large compressed air source. A small compressor usually won’t do, you need one of the big ones. Great for everyday shop and professional use, you need to be within an air line’s length of the compressor to use one of these types of pumps, making them useless outside of the garage.
A 12V pump needs electricity, but that can come from the battery of the vehicle you’re draining. Commonly used (and permanently installed) in boats for ease of service, they are also great for car and truck use. Because they use small electric pumps (because of 12V power), these can struggle with larger quantities of fluid or thicker fluids.
Most of these pumps are small enough to drag around your yard or shop, but if you need something really compact, or one that can fit in the back of your pickup, then look toward the squat and round pumps on the list. Cylindrical pumps are taller, though don’t always offer much more capacity. And if you’re going to be away from power and air, then a manual pump is a must.
Look for safety features to ensure that you have a clean extraction process. Features like a flow control valve and automatic shut-off for immediately stopping the flow of oil and making sure your extractor doesn’t overflow. Another good feature is a suction pipe that directs the oil from the engine to the disposal container (instead of having to pour out the oil) to prevent accidental spills.
Look for a pump that has a reservoir big enough to hold all of the oil that you need to extract. Sizes typically range from 5-10 liters. Most cars hold around five liters of oil, with trucks and SUVs holding more and diesel engines holding the most. A quick check of your owner’s manual should tell you your engine’s capacity. You’ll probably want one that can hold your engine’s full capacity plus a quart or two, but since you can empty these out, it’s not a necessity. Keep in mind that the bigger the capacity, the less portable it will become.
- When buying an extractor, always consider safety, reservoir size, convenience, and portability. This will ensure that you get the best fit for your vehicle.
- Since it can be hard to know which extractor is the best for your car, check independent reviews by customers as well as the manufacturer’s specifications.
- Warm oil is thinner and pumps more easily. Run your engine for a few minutes to warm up the oil and make your pumping work quicker and easier.
Q: Why should I buy an oil extractor?
An oil extraction pump is a great way to get the old oil out of your engine without having to get under your vehicle to loosen and replace the drain plug. It’s also a great way to remove oil from other engines like a boat, lawnmower, ATV, or motorcycle with less effort and less mess. These pumps will also work with other automotive fluids that are hard to drain like transmissions, differentials, and even engine coolant.
Q: Is an extractor as good as drain-plug draining?
In short, yes. Using an extractor pump, and making sure the tube reaches the bottom of the oil pan, extracts oil just as well as draining through the oil drain plug. If you aren't confident and want to make sure you're getting the most oil possible, you can park your vehicle on a slight hill with the dipstick on the lower side. If you're still not sure, pop the drain plug afterward — we think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Q: Will an oil extractor pump hurt my engine?
No. Suctioning the oil out of your engine should not damage your engine. You're using a small amount of suction or vacuum, not even enough to collapse the drain tube. If you want to make doubly sure you're not applying too much pressure to your engine, unscrew the oil fill cap to make sure that the pressure can equalize inside and out.
We picked the EWK Fluid Extractor Pump as our top choice. We like that it offers a pneumatic mode if you’re in your shop and have compressed air, but it also offers a hand pump so that you can use it virtually anywhere. The multiple sizes of oil extraction tube just makes work easier come fluid change time.