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Thread: How to properly get rid of used motor oil/fluids

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    How to properly get rid of used motor oil/fluids

    If you do your own engine oil changes, you'll end up with several quarts of dirty oil. How should you dispose of it?

    First, you need to get it ready for disposal.

    * The best way to transport the oil from your home, via car, is to carefully transfer it from your oil drain catch pan to empty/used gallon jugs - such as leftover household detergent containers, etc. A funnel is helpful for this job, as is a drain pan that has a built-in pour spout. (You can even buy a drain pan with a sealable lid and spout designed specifically to make it easier to take the old oil to a recycling station; however these can still be unwieldy for the average person to deal with - especially if they're really full.)

    * Be sure the oil is cool before you attempt to transfer it to the empty jugs. Those jugs may melt or burst open if you pour still-hot used oil into them. Screw the cap onto the jug and make absolutely sure it is on tight. For extra security, you can slip the jug into a plastic trash bag and twist that closed with a tie-twist. Get an old cardboard box, put a layer of newspaper down on the bottom. Put the jug in there.

    * If you have a truck, the best place to put the oil jug for transpo is obviously the bed since if it does leak, it won't be a disaster. Be sure it's secure nonetheless (use tie downs or something heavy to keep the jug where you put it; and of course drive gently. If you have to use a car, avoid transporting the oil in the trunk. It is most likely to tip over or roll around as you drive, which could leave you with a foul and pretty much impossible to ever clean-up completely mess. The ideal place is actually the passenger side floorpan. It should be relatively flat and more important, you'll be right there to keep an eye on it as you drive.

    So, where to actually take the oil?

    * One option - probably the simplest for most people - is to to bring the old oil to a gas station that accepts old oil for recycling. These days, some stations charge a small fee for this, so it may be necessary to "shop around" a little. (Depending on where you live, there may be pubic recycling bins available for the old oil filter, too.)

    * Another option (especially if you live in a rural area) is to ask around until you find someone who uses a commercial-type oil-fired stove to heat their place. Car repair shops and other commercial places are likely prospects. These places will be happy to take your old oil for free, because for them, it's free heat. If you do find such a "source," consider getting a larger capacity container such as a 5-8 gallon gasoline jug. You can then use this as your old oil depot (it'll take several oil changes to fill that thing up) and then, once a year (or whenever) you can cart the jug to your friend with the heat stove.

    Other fluids:

    * Gear oil (such as transmission/axle fluid) is generally ok to dispose of in the same way and mixed in with used motor oil.

    * Old engine coolant/automatic transmission fluid should not be mixed with used motor oil if you're giving it to someone for use in their oil-burning stove. If you're just hauling this stuff to a gas station pick-up point, it may be ok to mix it all together. But ask first.

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    You could, of course, just pour the old oil into the container the new oil came in!

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Brand View Post
    You could, of course, just pour the old oil into the container the new oil came in!
    Yes, but usually that means trying to refill 4-6 individual quart bottles - which usually means a big sloppy mess. The big jugs have a couple of advantages. One, you can usually put most if not all the oil from the typical 4-5 quart oil change in just one container. Two, once you've got about a quart in the jug, the weight stabilizes the jug so it's easier to pour the rest in without spilling or having the bottle tip over. Three, these jugs are often translucent or semi-translucent - which makes it easier to see how much oil is in there before you overflow.

    This has been my experience, at least!

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    Instead of using the standard oil drain pan or those closable containers to catch the oil as it drains. Use a Kitty litter pan instead. It generally has more capacity than those lousy little pans available at the auto parts store.

    Instead of pouring the oil into plastic jugs, I pour it into an empty kitty litter bucket with a lid. You will find those at the pet section of the supermarket.

    Using these instead of the auto parts store pans and milk jugs, I have saved considerable time and storage space. A 38 lb litter container typically is good for 3-4 oil changes. No more pesky jugs.

    I find it amazing that the auto parts industry has not figured a better way of helping its customers deal with this. Is it because they don't really want customers to change their own oil?

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat View Post
    Instead of using the standard oil drain pan or those closable containers to catch the oil as it drains. Use a Kitty litter pan instead. It generally has more capacity than those lousy little pans available at the auto parts store.

    Instead of pouring the oil into plastic jugs, I pour it into an empty kitty litter bucket with a lid. You will find those at the pet section of the supermarket.

    Using these instead of the auto parts store pans and milk jugs, I have saved considerable time and storage space. A 38 lb litter container typically is good for 3-4 oil changes. No more pesky jugs.

    I find it amazing that the auto parts industry has not figured a better way of helping its customers deal with this. Is it because they don't really want customers to change their own oil?
    Great idea!

    PS: Remember when oil came in those godawful cans and you had to use a punch to open up each one?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Yes, but usually that means trying to refill 4-6 individual quart bottles -
    It's different over here, then! It's much cheaper to buy 5-litre containers of oil, which is more or less the sump capacity of most cars.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Great idea!

    PS: Remember when oil came in those godawful cans and you had to use a punch to open up each one?
    You can always put them in the trash can - in your nearest fast food resturant.

    No. I didn't really say that

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Great idea!

    PS: Remember when oil came in those godawful cans and you had to use a punch to open up each one?
    I liked those! They had a lot more personality than those plastic monstrosities that they have today. Of course, they do work a bit better.

    I used to have one of those spouts you placed over the top of the can and it poured pretty easy after that!

    I think that the old cans went out in the early 1980's if memory serves me correctly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dBrong View Post
    You can always put them in the trash can - in your nearest fast food resturant.

    No. I didn't really say that
    Frenchfried grease resembles used motor oil, so it wouldn't be too much of a stretch!

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