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Defy Gravity

So I love changing my oil at home. It’s way more convenient and fun! However, there’s one really annoying aspect to doing so. I use a set of ramps to get the front up and as such, the car is on an angle. I take off the plug and let that drain until it’s barely dripping and then move to the oil filter to receive a fountain of warm filthy oil that splatters everywhere. It seems like there is a ridge in the pan or something that makes it such that the oil from that side of the pan doesn’t drain when the car is on an angle. Am I doing something stupid (like something in the wrong order)? Is there a way that I can minimize the mess?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!


Do you have a good car jack? One that is easy and quick to use? Not the one that came with your car.

I use a jack to give me access room under the car to get the drain plug out. Then you can let it back down while the oil drains. Depending on the oil pan configuration and drain hole, you can even lift the opposite side/end of the car to help the oil drain more thoroughly.

Same thing with the oil filter, you can adjust the tilt of the car to minimize the mess.

If you don’t have a good floor jack, this may be a good excuse to go buy one.

Disclaimer: have jack stands in place in addition to the jack.

Thanks for the tip! Although I don’t know if I would ever be gutsy enough to get under a car that was just propped up with a jack! As it is, it makes me a little nervous having it on sturdy ramps with blocks behind the back wheel and the parking brake set!

My solution (I really hated driving up on those ramps) was a Pella oil extractor. It sucks the oil up by way of the oil dip stick tube. I is fast and easy. I have checked after using it and found that all I could get out was a few drops.

It’s faster and cleaner. BTW Pella is the brand I own, but there are other brands and they come in several sizes.

Over all a lot less messy, and I suspect I get more oil out, because I can suck the oil remaining in the oil filter housing. You may not be able to do that however.

Buy a pair of jack stands while you’re getting that nice new jack.

I’ve never liked driving up onto ramps, I’m paranoid the wheel is going to go off one side or the other, or go too far.

Cool, that’s a good idea!

Do you pump this by hand, or is it powered?

Or do what i did once, drive up and OFF the ramps. Thankfully the car had good ground clearance and didn’t really harm anything I could see. Had it been my Civic, I’d be looking at some pretty heft damage done to it.
Buy 4 jack stands so the car is level to the ground

The reason that you get splattered with oil when you remove the filter is that it has an anti-drainback valve in it. That keeps it full of oil so you build up oil pressure quickly when you start your engine. There is no ridge in the pan so using the ramps is OK. I prefer the ramps over a jack and jack stands. I actually had a jackstand fail on me once, fortunately I wasn’t under the car. Actually it was a new jackstand that failed due to a bad weld as I first set a car on it. I trust ramps more.

It is manually powered.  I pump a vacuum twice to empty it.  I don't have the larger size unit that likely would pull it dry on a single

I Use 4 Two-Foot Long Lengths Of 2" x 12" Lumber. I Put One In Front Of Each Tire And Drive Up On Them. The Car Sits Firmly, Safely Level And I Have Enough Clearance For The Oil & Filter Change.

The car is not going anywhere.

If you need more clearance you can attach a 12" to 18" length of 2" x 12" to the top of each of the original boards making them “two-step” boards. A little “stop” piece of 1 x 2 or 2 x 2 could be attached to the front edges to keep you from over driving the boards ( I haven’t done that) . You could even put handles on them.

I takes a little practice to easily drive up ( it helps to start from a couple inches back and get the car rolling before coming to the boards), but I like the security of the car sitting flat on boards and not jacked up. I use this arrangement on all of our cars.

By not raising the car unnecessarily high, the oil and filter don’t fall as far into the pan and the mess is kept in check.

I suppose you could use just 2 sets of boards and put them only in front.

Also, I lay a piece of poly tarp down (a good section cut from a worn out tarp) and it makes it easier for me to slide under a bit and keeps me cleaner.


Can you get to the oil filter from above? On many cars, it’s no harder to change the oil filter by reaching down into the engine compartment from above than it is to get to it from below. On our Mazda Protege, I have to remove three nuts and push a bracket full of emissions hardware out of the way. On the other two cars, I can get to the filter without removing anything.

I do have to jack the car up a couple of inches to get enough clearance to get an oil pan under the car, but I don’t need to slither under the car and thus don’t need to use the ramps.

The OP doesn’t say what year and model, so I don’t know if it’s the same engine as my 2006 with the 1ZZ (base and XR trim) engine.
Having the front of the car higher actually helps drain the oil because the hole is at the center-rear of the oil pan.
The oil from the filter has nothing to do with the oil pan, it’s the anti-drainback as Keith has said.
For those who don’t know the filter in this car has the filter mounted with the business end facing up.
I first loosen the filter slightly and let the oil slowly run into the catch pan.

To the OP:
since you like to DIY I recommend you do these every 3 years or 30K miles for better durability:
change the brake fluid
drain and refill the power steering fluid reservoir
change the auto trans fluid (use only Toyota fluid)
every 5 years:
change the coolant and thermostat
change the manual trans oil