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Are oil extractors good for changing oil?

I recently purchased a 2016 Kia Sorento and went to do the first oil change today. I quickly discovered that the oil pan is under a cowling/cover on the bottom of my car which is held on by about two dozen bolts. I spent 15 minutes on my back this morning removing the bolts and finally gave up with about 8 left. I would like to be able to change the oil on this vehicle myself, but I don’t feel like dealing with all the cowling bolts.

I’m aware of oil extractors like the two linked below, but have never used one. It allows you to remove the oil from the engine compartment instead of draining through the drain plug hold.

For those who have experience with oil extractors, are they good? My only real concern, assuming they work as described, is that all of the grit that collects at the bottom of the oil pan would not be removed like it would if you were draining the oil out through the drain plug.

Thanks in advance.


I’m familiar with professional oil extractors . . . think John Dow

Those ones you showed us don’t look terribly impressive. I have some experience with that second one you showed us. And it’s not very fast

If you don’t remove that splash pan to drain oil, then you’re also not going to see any bad motor mounts, leaking oil pan gasket, etc.

In a way, you’re doing yourself a disservice by sucking it out through the filler tube

IMO, extractors are used by shops to be more profitable and skip some steps. It’s all about quantity, not quality

Save yourself some money, and just do the oil change the old fashioned way. it takes more time, but it’s a more thorough job

It sounds like someone bought a vehicle, and didn’t look into what it costs to maintain and operate that vehicle.


@Tester what an extremely ignorant and inaccurate comment.

If you don’t remove that pan, how are you going to remove the oil filter?

I’d think about cutting a 6 inch opening in the cover then build a 7 inch cover out of a piece of sheet aluminum. three or four fasteners and you are done. Assuming you can change the oil filter from the top.

@“oldtimer 11” it’s accessible from the engine compartment

I would double check the procedure needed, I’m surprised so many bolts need to be removed. Shields are common, but usually it’s not that complicated to get to the drain plug.

Don’t use an oil extractor.

This doesn’t remove all the contaminates in the oil.

Drain the oil per the manufacturers specifications.


@im1dermike , do not lose this opportunity to buy a new tool! You can get something to speed up bolt removal, raising the car, or something somewhat tangentially needed in an old change. Although I would avoid the oil extractor, too.

im1dermike, thanks for the info.

I realize a lot of people will not agree with me but on a new vehicle I have the dealer change the oil and filter until the warranty is expired just in case there is a problem. A lot of dealers will give one free change after a certain number. Also if they break the under engine cover it is on their cost.

I agree with you, Volvo. I always let the dealers do mine until the warranty runs out. I also keep my copies of all the shop orders just in case I need to prove they did it. And I always check their work before driving away. I had one leave an oil plug loose once.

I have anxiety attacks whenever anybody else goes near my car with a wrench, but I understand and subscribe to Volvo’s philosophy on this.

For future use, I’d get a large round plastic clip-on plug, like the kind used on electronics stuff, at the hardware store, remove the splashpanel and cut a plug-sized hole with a circle saw where the engine’s drain plug is, and reinstall the splashpanel with the plastic plug in the hole. In future you could just pop the plug out, remove the engine drain plug, do the work, and pop the cap back in.

I do not like the oil extractors. They don’t allow the oil to wash old crud out the bottom, they just suck the oil from above the crud and leave it in the pan.

@“VOLVO V70” I can’t say I disagree with that strategy at all. I really can’t disagree with anyone having periodic maintenance done by the dealer or any other shop, whether it’s still in the warranty period or not. Regular maintenance seems to have progressively gotten more difficult to complete - less space, low clearances requiring jacks, ramps, or lifts, covers or other stuff in the way, and the like. The cost differential between doing an oil change yourself versus the dealer can be $10-$30, which is not a ridiculous amount to pay to save the trouble, risk of injury, risk of screwing up, and time of doing it yourself.

But always check the work as much as you’re able before driving off. There are way too many incidents of loose plugs and/or other work not completed or improperly done.

Ehhh those supposed oil extractors will leave you with 3/4ths of an oil change at best. I can’t think of any reason to not drain the oil the proper way. How often does the oil get changed? 3 times a year? Say it takes you an hour, three times a year. I spend more than 3 hours a year doing Christmas lights on the house.

I’m sure there’s a competent local independent garage near you that would be happy to do your scheduled service for you as well.

A thought . . .

how do you know the dealer doesn’t also use those oil extractors

Better ask before you bring it to them

I find the design interesting. I have a Hyundai with those covers but there is an access hole for the drain plug and another one for the oil filter. If you want to do the transmission, you have to take the cover off. It is a PITA, but on my 2nd attempt, it was easier.
Also, when I have the car on jacks, the oil from the filter area goes on the cover and I have to spent 10 minutes cleaning it from above.
I had a Ford Focus where the cover had to come off even for oil change. It is a bad design IMO.

As far as having the dealer do it, every time I try this with a new to me car that is under warranty I regret the decision. Something always goes wrong, from wrong oil, to leaks to dents on the door. For me it is not about the $20, it is about doing it right, I also save time doing it myself since I can do it on Sunday night without taking time off work/etc. I keep the receipts and have an excel spread sheet of my maintenance.

As a reference point, I had a similar cover on my 03 Passat. Twice the cover was damaged because it was improperly replaced after an oil change (at my local independent). The first time the shop paid for a new cover. The second time the damage was not as extensive and I could get it (mostly) put back with a cable tie.

Both times the edge of the cover hit the ground while driving, a dangerous situation. Once at high speed.

If I had to do it over, I would have taken it off and had a small access plate installed.

Thanks for everyone’s feedback. You’ve confirmed my concerns about the drawbacks of using an extractor. A maintenance task as simple as an oil change is something I would like to continue doing on my vehicles. As many stated, having a dealer or someone else do the task, ignoring the additional expense, can result in errors or otherwise carelessness that I would not allow.

I plan to do the oil changes on this new vehicle myself. I definitely will be employing a power tool to remove the bolts. The suggestion of many to create an access port in the cover is also something I will explore.

Thanks again.