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Vacuum Cleaner-Oil Drain Plug

I was fascinated by a puzzler some time ago about how to remove the oil drain plug without draining the oil using a vacuum cleaner. Lots of people I told it to were skeptical it would work so I tried it and made a video to prove it would.

The credits at the end have a plug for the show and a tribute to Tom.

That’s one of oldest mechanic’s tricks in the book.

But here’s a word of warning.

Before doing this, pull the oil dip stick out and smell the oil for any gas contamination. Because if there’s any gas contamination in the oil, and the gas vapors get pulled into vacuum cleaner past the electric motor, the vacuum cleaner can explode.

Seen that one happen!


“,gas vapors get pulled into vacuum cleaner past the electric motor, the vacuum cleaner can explode.”

Yes very true as I showed in a cautionary text overlay. But I don’t know why one would want to prevent the oil from draining if it was contaminated with gas.

Some people don’t realize that the oil is contaminated with gas.

Hence! the vacuum cleaner explodes!

My buddy Jeff found this out the hard way.

I always got a laugh out of Jeff!


LOL. What are friends for if not for a laugh at their expense.

I sincerely hope you’re not promoting this.
IMHO posting puzzlers like that one show really poor judgments. Puzzlers that pose questions about things that aren’t necessary and pose a potential danger to anyone trying to prove their solution should not be posted.

@“the same mountainbike”

You’re a wimp!

You wouldn’t last one minute in my shop!


You’re welcome to your opinion. Based on that statement, you need not worry… I wouldn’t work in your shop.
Should we now get into a name calling contest? Would that be productive? Would it make you feel tougher?

You do know, I hope, that calling someone names is not the same thing as disagreeing with them?


This is known way to remove the oil drain plug without losing any oil.

I guess you don’t actually repair vehicles other than your own?

Am I correct?

Or do you even do that?


Why would you remove an oil plug and try to save the oil?
Does any of this justify namecalling? Is your defense to simply attempt further insults?

You should know that as an engineer I’m not questioning whether it will work. So whether I actually do this myself or not is irrelevant. So your implications are totally irrelevant.

I’m not going to get dragged into a peeing contest. If you have technical information as to why you remove oil plugs without draining the oil, I’m listening. If you’re just going to continue escalating the namecalling, don’t bother. I won’t respond again.

Ok, what’s that expression about “fools rushing in where even the brave won’t go” ? …lol … I’m not sure of OP’s motive for posting their proposed method, since I don’t recall that particular puzzler; but I can think of a practical motive where you might want to do that. There was a discussion in these parts fairly recently about what to do when the oil drain plug leaks after you change the oil. Tighten it, or replace the plug? If you decide to do what’s probably the correct method, replace the plug, you’d prefer to not have to drain all the oil out, and not dump the whole 6 quarts on your head in the process or replacing the drain plug. So something like this might work out ok for that.

Me, as a diyer, I wouldn’t do it that way. I’d worry that the oil would damage my vacuum cleaner, or worse. I’d either risk oil on me by just doing it fast, or drain the oil out into a clean pan, then pouring it back in later.

I’d just consider it an extra flush of the system for a modest cost and no chemicals. Although when I was a younger man I probably would have used a clean aluminum turkey broiler pan to save the oil. I’m not as prudent as I used to be. :smile:

My daughter’s Civics were impossible to drain without having the oil run down my arm. Never could find a good solution for that other than to wear an old shirt.

I can’t think of a single reason ever to do this. It makes absolutely no sense and looks to me to be a complete waste of time. In the time it would take me to set up a vacuum cleaner to do this I could have swapped drain plugs and lost a minimum of oil. Heck, even if I lost all 5 quarts out of the engine that’s only 10 bucks worth of oil. Or if it’s a synthetic I can clean and wipe out a drain pan in less time than it would take to hook up a vacuum. Just drain the oil out and put it back in. Still easier. And no risk.

Ok, I didn’t intend to start a poop storm here but some back ground on the original puzzler and the legitimate use of a vacuum seems in order. As I recall the story on Car Talk was about how someone was able install a missing drain plug washer right after an oil change without draining the oil.

Seems like a totally reasonable procedure to me verses loosing $50 of GOOD oil or letting it run over the cruddy cross member/suspension/steering/etc into a “clean” pan.

Back to you guys, LOL.

Fair enough. :smile:
I’d worry about my vacuum cleaner and, especially on an old vehicle, volatile fumes.
I’ve been able in the past to remove a plug, plug the hole with the thumb on one hand and change a nylon washer with the other hand (having the washer set aside ahead in preparation), and reinstall the plug with very little oil loss. That’s the method I’ve used.

True, I work in a shop and not under jack stands in the driveway, but still, changing out a drain plug shouldn’t result in losing more than half a quart of oil, if that much.

I also don’t know what the retail price of motor oil in stores is these days, but I can’t imagine even synthetic oil costing $10/quart.

Ok, you got me. $9.19/qt.

Wow. I’m not charging enough for oil. Generally the chain auto parts stores sell parts for less than the local independent shop does. But I sell Mobil 1 5W30 for less than that, and I’m still making a decent profit. I think I saw a 6-pack of that at Costco for $35 or so.

In the shop anyone that rigs up a vacuum cleaner to an engine to replace a drain plug would draw a crowd and be known as a misfit. You just have to hold your thumb against the 250 F oil drain hole while the plug is changed.

Note that there are a number of do-it yourself people here that are very nervous about negative or positive pressures on the engine seals.

I find the neighbors 1968 Camero to be more interesting.

That’s a little high. I bought Mobil 1 0-20 last week for $6.25 and Mobil 5-30 dino for under $2.99 at Mills Fleet Farm where I usually buy my oil when its on sale. You also have to remember you can get a 5 quart container of Mobil 1 0-20 syn at Walmart for around $25. Regular price is still only about a dollar more so I think Oreilly is a little out of line.