Used Oil Disposal: What to Do With Your Oil After a DIY Oil Change
Over time, motor oil in your vehicle becomes less pure as water, dirt, chemicals, and more get mixed in. As time goes on, the impurities introduced into the oil that are not captured by the filter contribute to the molecular degradation of the additives and reduces its ability to prevent engine wear caused by heat and friction. When a certain amount of degradation occurs (IE: Oil change interval), it’s time to change the oil—and when you change your own oil, the question then becomes what to do with the used oil.
At this point, many people may wonder, “Can you just throw old motor oil away?” Typically, the answer is “no.” This kind of oil is banned from landfills in 38 different states as well as in the District of Columbia.
In fact, it’s the second most banned substance in landfills—only behind car batteries. At least two states ban oil filters in landfills: North Carolina and Wisconsin. (In California, you can get money in exchange for recycling motor oil and filters.)
Besides the legal issues involved, there’s a big benefit when you recycle motor oil and plenty of problems when you don’t. The benefit is that it’s an environmentally friendly action that’s also quite practical.
As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) points out, there is plenty of value in used oil with about 380 million gallons of the substance being recycled annually. In fact, disposed-of oil can be reused over and over again, whether in the original function or for a new purpose. Did you know, most asphalt roads you drive on are made with a derivative of recycled oil!
It takes an astonishing forty-two gallons of crude oil to make just two and a half quarts of motor oil. However, when recycling used motor oil, only a gallon is needed to make that same amount of user-friendly motor oil.
This demonstrates how eco-friendly recycling motor oil really is and it’s a straightforward way for individuals to reduce their personal carbon footprints.
Meanwhile, motor oil that’s improperly disposed of can cause health problems for people, animals, fish, plants, and more. Dumping oil down a gutter or storm drain, for example, can contaminate rivers, lakes, and oceans, sticking to the water all the way. Its presence can then kill animals, fish, and plants that call those bodies of water home. We recommend to never do this because it’s essentially polluting the environment in which your friends, family and neighbors live.
Here’s one quick fact from the EPA that demonstrates how little oil it takes to contaminate our waterways. The oil from just one oil change, when improperly handled, can “contaminate one million gallons of freshwater—a years’ supply for 50 people!”
How to Dispose of Motor Oil
After removing the old oil, you can transport it to an appropriate hazardous waste collection site near you. In fact, these collection sites are the only way to legally dispose of used motor oil. DIY’ers have had plenty of luck using a funnel to put it in empty oil bottles, a sealable oil pan or a polyethylene container that hasn’t had other liquids inside.
Once motor oil mingles with other fluids, it is no longer recyclable, including water and gasoline. So, handle the oil carefully to prevent this.
Once you’re put the oil in an appropriate container, store it in a cool place where it can stay dry until you can take it to a recycling facility.
Next up: how do you dispose of oil filters? Put the filter in a plastic bag; seal it up; and recycle it too. It will still contain ounces of motor oil.
Do It Yourself Oil Change Kits
- Quarts of oil (exactly the right amount)
- High-quality filter
- Crush washer for sealing
- Sticker to record date/mileage for the next change
- Disposal funnel
We’ve already mentioned that Power Oil Center offers car oil change kits—and we also offer truck, ATV, UTV, boat, and motorcycle oil change kits for popular manufacturers, including Ford, Honda, Kawasaki, Kubota, and Toyota. These oil changing kits are convenient and easy to use, and our fast shipping gets the kits to you quickly.