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The Best Oil Drain Pans To Efficiently Change The Oil In Your Vehicle

It’s a sunny Sunday morning, and you’ve got some spare time on your hands. Since you are a DIY kind of person, you decide to change your car’s engine oil. You set up all your tools. The oil drain pan is ready underneath your car. But are you sure you have the best oil drain pan to do the job?

You continue on your mission by unscrewing the drain plug and oil begins to pour out. Suddenly you notice that your pan is leaking and that the oil is starting to build up on the top since the pan’s opening is not big enough. You frantically replace it with any container you can find, trying to catch the oil stream, but it is too late. Now you will have to spend the rest of your day washing your driveway and trying to clean up all the mess. It seems you didn’t have the best oil pan to do the work.

Has this happened to you? Because it has to me, and it is really frustrating. That's why you always have to choose the best oil drain pan you can find.

Quick Look: Our Top Picks

Why are oil changes necessary?

Oil is one of the most important products for your car, but one of the easiest to neglect. It plays three crucial roles in the health of your engine: it lubricates the internals to prevent them from wearing out, it clings on to microscopic bits of debris to stop them from causing damage, and it cools the engine by transferring heat from the working parts.

As oil ages, it becomes less effective. If you let it go too long without changing it, it can actually damage your engine rather than protect it. Oxidation starts to happen, and if you don't change the oil and add new, fresh oil, small particles of metal from the engine could potentially travel around the system and cause secondary damage, which eventually could lead to failure.

Oil changes also help to improve your gas mileage. A well-lubricated engine uses fuel more efficiently and produces fewer exhaust emissions. Some states have emission tests that you need to pass if you want to keep your car on the road, so changing your oil should be a priority.

The main reason you need to change your oil is to prevent it from turning into sludge. After prolonged exposure to your engine’s high heat, oil starts to break down and forms a gelatinous goo that can block oil passages. This prevents oil from entering vital parts of your engine, and metal parts that don’t receive oil will soon cause friction, start overheating, and eventually, the engine will seize.

Simply put, changing your oil will always be a lot cheaper than having to replace your vehicle’s engine.

The importance of a good oil drain pan

Unless you want to spend several hours of your day trying to clean oil spills off your floor, having a good oil drain pan is vital. You need to get a container that can handle all your used oil without overspilling. There is no worse feeling than finding out that there is more oil in your sump than what your oil drain pan can contain, and see it overflow onto the ground.

An oil drain pan should have a robust design. It will be dragged and bumped against car parts, so you don’t want a flimsy pan that will crack after two uses. A mesh screen is a good feature and will save you from having to fish around your used oil trying to find that lost drain plug.

The size of the opening is another important point to consider. If it is too small, oil can pour in more rapidly that the pan can take it, creating overflow and air bubbling, which will splatter oil all over the place. A good size opening also makes it easier to aim the oil flow into the pan.

If you are going to store your oil in the drain pan, look for one that has a tight seal. If the cap has a rubber trim, it means it is a high-quality one.

The Best Oil Drain Pans

FloTool 42003MI Drain Container

FloTool 42003MI Drain Container

This is a 16-quart drain container. One great feature is that it can be stored either upright or flat. It has an integrated handle to carry it around easily. The elongated basin will capture the full range of the oil stream, although it does have a small drainage hole.

The pan has an area designed to put your used oil filter on, as well as the oil drain plug. This lets you change your oil filter at the same time. It measures 6” tall, so it will fit under almost any vehicle. The heavy-duty plastic it is made of can handle not only oil, but also antifreeze or most chemicals used in your garage.

Pros

  • Heavy-duty design

  • Integrated handle

  • Designed not to leak

Cons

  • The plug does not have a rubber seal

  • The pour spot’s cap does not have a retainer so it can easily fall off

Lisle 17942 Black Plastic 4.5-Gallon Drain Pan

Lisle 17942 Black Plastic 4.5-Gallon Drain Pan

This is just a drain pan—it is not an oil container. Built using high-density polyethylene materials, it is resistant to solvents and chemicals, and quite easy to clean. This pan feels quite rigid, with extra thick walls. The 1”wide spout makes pouring quick and easy. It has an angle that lets you pour without having to tip the pan too much. The anti-splash lip helps you prevent spilling while you are carrying the drain pan or pouring out the oil, and carrying it around is comfortable since the large handles let you get a good grip.

Pros

  • Thick, sturdy walls allow you to handle it roughly without fear of breaking it

  • Spout makes it easy to pour the oil into any container

  • Large area. No need to judge where to put the pan to catch flying oil anymore

Cons

Capri Tools CP21023 Portable Oil Drain Pan

Capri Tools CP21023 Portable Oil Drain Pan

This oil pan is made of sturdy plastic which will not flex or bend. Its large area will catch your oil with no splashing. The pouring spout lets you pour oil into containers for storage. It comes in green or black, so many people buy one of each and use one for oil and one for antifreeze changes since the polyethylene material used to build it can handle most chemicals. With a total capacity of 4.5 gallons, it can easily handle most oil changes, leaving enough room left over to carry the pan without worrying about spills. The lip around the rim also helps to keep any oil from spilling out.

Pros

  • Thick, sturdy plastic

  • Ideal for the home or shop

  • Smooth finish allows for easy cleanup

  • Large capacity can handle practically any oil or transmission fluid change

Cons

  • Spout is angled, so when pouring, it can be pointed at an awkward angle

  • No spout cap

GarageBOSS 12.5 Quart Oil Drain Pan with Funnel

GarageBOSS 12.5 Quart Oil Drain Pan with Funnel

This is an oil drain pan and also a container, so you can drain the oil directly into it and transport it to your recycling center. With a high 12.5 quart capacity, you can do several oil changes before it is filled up. Unlike other pans, this one is pretty shallow; at only 3.5” tall it will easily fit under your car, even if it is a low rider.

The integrated handle lets you carry it with a firm grip, and its leak-proof cap keeps you from spilling any fluid. One interesting feature is that the large screw cap can be reversed to act as a wide mouth funnel for direct oil draining.

Pros

  • Totally sealed for transport

  • Low profile makes it great to use with lowered vehicles

  • Integrated funnel, no need to buy an extra one

Cons

  • Poorly produced threads have been reported, but it can be cleaned up easily with an X-Acto knife

GarageBOSS 16-quart Oil Tear Away Clean Drain Pan

GarageBOSS 16-quart Oil Tear Away Clean Drain Pan

If you’re a practical person who likes to keep things clean, this drain pan might interest you. It shares most of the features of the GarageBOSS funnel pan, since this one also has a comfortable carry handle and is designed to sit flat for transport. It has both a large drain surface and a funnel drain option, so you can choose the method that best suits your vehicle. Its oil vent prevents oil from burping while gushing into the drain hole.

What makes this drain pan unique is that it uses disposable tear-away sheets. These eliminate the mess from draining old oil; just drain the oil, remove the tear away sheet and you are clean and ready to recycle. By the way, these sheets are also recyclable.

Pros

  • Large capacity. Change your car, mower, and tractor oil and make just one trip to the recycle center

  • Sheets make cleaning up a breeze

  • Convenient built-in well that will hold your oil pan drain plug

Cons

  • Replacement sheets are an additional cost

Conclusion

The 12.5 Quart GarageBOSS with funnel is an affordable option that will satisfy most needs. Not only is it a drain pan, but also a container, and with its high capacity, you can change your oil several times before having to take it to the recycle center. The shallow design in this drain pan allows you to use it on all sort of vehicles, and its sturdy construction and built-in handles make transportation easy.

We found the integrated funnel to be quite convenient; it will save you from having to spend extra money on one, and will also save you from having to search around for it every time you are going to change your oil. Best of all, once you’re done you just screw it into the container, so it’s always there when you need it.

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