Dipstick Oil Changers

I’m just curious, what, in general, do people think of top-side oil changers?

No doubt they’re cleaner, but do they get enough oil out of the crankcase? What good/bad stories do you hear about them?

I don’t think much of them and would not use one in a million years. Even if you got most or even all of the oil out of the pan that does not remove dirt from a filter or open up an oil filter that is clogged with contaminants.
(Keep in mind that an oil filter does not stop all contaminants in the oil and often some of those contaminants that are stopped will come loose and be recycled back through the lubrication system.)

Anyone who makes a habit out of using one of these things is also likely to lose an engine down the road.

Never tried them. Seems to me that they can miss a lot of oil if the dipstick tube isn’t lined up with the oil pan sump. That little hose can do some strange things once it is out of the dipstick tube, and can curl up away from the oil, or never hit the bottom of the sump.

The drain plug, however, is at the bottom of the sump. Gravity is your friend, and gets all the oil out of the sump every time, unless the car is jacked up at an odd angle.

We used this technique on vehicles with damaged drain plugs, for this purpose it was a life saver.

If it was a choice between not changing your oil at all or using one of these suction pumps, then the suction pump would be the correct choice from that very limited menu.

However, since suctioning oil out of a crankcase will inevitably leave the worst of the oil (the heavy, sludgy stuff) at the bottom of the oil pan, a real oil change involving draining the oil is what should be done.

Agree with all of the above. However, the messiest part of an oil change is usually the oil filter, especially if it’s one of those vertically mounted ones. You’re going to have to change the filter anyway.

I think topside oilchangers are a waste of money and time.

If you are looking for a way to make oil changes easier, I recommend one of the drain plug valves that are available, like one of these: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_15?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=fram+sure+drain&sprefix=fram+sure+drain

I do use the top side technique. The first time I did it, I checked the oil filter housing and the sump and using the top side method removed the most oil total. That is the way it worked for me on my current car. Your mileage may vary.

I suspect it will vary from one car to another and from one person to another. For me I would say the top side is better for the car. It is also a lot more convenient and less sloppy. I would expect that for some cars it would not get as much oil.

My personal opinion is that it makes almost 0% difference for most all cars. (if done properly) From the worse to the best, I would guess the life time difference would be somewhere between 2 to 200 miles of engine wear. That is immaterial to me.

I would suggest that changing the oil maybe 5-10% more often would make a larger difference.

Joseph, I’m Interested. I Have A Couple Of Applications In Mind. Do You Use An Electric Pump (12v ?), A Manual Pump, A Vacuum Tank System Pressurized By Compressor, Or Other ? Please Advise.

I know you’ve been doing this for some time, now. I believe the oil has to be warm, correct ? Also, I’m sure you monitor the volume of oil that comes out. Is there a Brand name of your system ? Of what material is the extraction tubing made ? What type container do you catch the oil in ? Please describe your regular change routine.


I’ve been using one for a few years . First time I checked how well it drained the sump by pulling the drain plug and got a dribble out - just about what you get after a regular drain . The rig I use has a plastic tube , not a hose so you know when you hit bottom .

BTW they’re commonly used for boat engines where there is little or no access to the drain .

Now that some have come out in favor of these systems, I have something I would like to add.

I have seen some of these systems sold for use on motorcycles, and they come with a warning. That warning is that some engines don’t give you clear access to the bottom of the pan through the dip stick hole. This access is pretty important if you want to make one of these systems work.

Very True. However, I Know About How Much Oil (Within An Ounce Or Two) Comes Out Of Our Cars At Oil Change Time. I Put It In A Jug For Recycling. I Would Compare That Volume When Using An Extractor.


I agree with common sense answer: I think that comparing the volume extracted by a regular oil change with that obtained by one of these pumps would be valuable in seeing how well they actually work.

If you have to get under the car to change the filter anyway, what is this pump gaining you though?

That’s a good idea, CSA. Make sure you keep your receipt and check the return policy before you spend your money, especially if you get one of the more expensive extraction systems.

At least one area I can think where they’d help is when it’s just too uncomfortable to get under the car. If you live in a colder city – I don’t – or a hotter city – I do – it may turn out to be the only option.

This probably is a different question, but I’ve been using one to change the transmission fluid. The pans on those can be weird beasts, and I think for some cars you end up getting out more fluid. For some cars, it’s probably the preferred method. On my Escape, I believe I get more fluid out that way.

About 12 years ago, I made the mistake of doing an oil change when it was 110+ outside. Never again. But I had procrastinated the oil change to the point where, yes, I absolutely had to do it that day. I believe for at least that one oil change, doing it from the top would have been the better method.

And that cat was right next to the oil filter. Felt like I was inside an oven.

I would probably use one if my filter was easy to get to. Since I have to get under the car anyway, I might as well pull the plug too. The little dribbles of oil that get left behind in the pan with a dip-stick changer won’t hurt anything. When I remove the plug I don’t wait around for the drops to stop falling anyway.

The best thing for car maintenance is to not crash it. The rest is kind of small stuff.