Paying a couple of hundred dollars on having an oil change doesn’t sit well with me … it’s a 30-minute job (at the most) and the most difficult part is removing the old oil. That was until now … oil extractors make that job so much easier and cleaner.
If you read these reviews regularly, some of these items may look familiar, because they’re very similar to the brake bleeders that we looked at a while back. They’re doing a very similar job … sucking fluid from a component, in fact, one of these oil extractors also comes with a brake bleeding accessory.
So just why would you want to use an oil extractor? What benefits do they have over other methods?
How Does an Oil Extractor Work?
Oil extractors are very simple, essentially, all you’re doing is creating a vacuum … you could almost see it like a vacuum cleaner for oil. The tank is depressurized, and the hose going into the tank starts sucking … be that water, oil, transmission fluid, and the tank acts as a reservoir to collect the fluid.
Some extractors can do a little more … if they’re fitted with a reversible valve, it could mean that they can dispense fluids as well as suck them up. You need to change the transmission oil in a manual transmission (for example), you can pump the fluid through the filler hole (which 99% of the time has to be done from underneath) … it’s doubtful that you can top up or refill a transmission without a way of pumping the fluid.
While I’ve called them ‘oil extractors’ the reality is that they can be used for pretty much any fluid removal, providing that the fluid isn’t too viscous … if we’re keeping to the automotive theme, then most fluids will work aside from perhaps gear oil like you’d find in a differential.
The Best Oil Extractor
So the Mityvac is identical to my Blue Point extractor, which gives me a good insight as to what’s right, and what’s wrong with it. And the truth is, in all the years that I’ve owned it, I’ve only really found one flaw, of which I’ll discuss shortly.
It holds 8.8 liters of fluid (2.3 gallons) but the overfill shutoff valve cuts in at 8 liters, so there’s always a little extra space in reserve. It can be used for pretty much any fluid, but the beauty of the Mityvac is that it’s bi-directional, meaning that fluid can be evacuated, or pumped from the tank – making it an excellent dispenser for oils or transmission fluids.
And you don’t have to mess about or convert anything, it’s literally just the push of the directional valve and it’s ready to go, which also helps with emptying the evacuator, although there is a built-in pouring spout, which is blanked off with a rubber stopper, and it’s the rubber stopper that I’ve found issue with.
Of course you don’t want the stopper to just fall out, and there is a locking mechanism in the form of a cam-lock. I’ve found that if you leave the stopper in for any length of time, it can be most difficult to remove when you want to – I’ve physically had to pry it out in the past.
All the tubes fit to the unit with a quick coupling – simply push the release ring to remove them, and there are three different tubes supplied: .230” x 5’ dipstick tube, .260” x 5’ dipstick tube and a .410” x 5’ main evacuation tube, all made from a nylon, giving them a little rigidity, while still remaining flexible enough to be manipulated.
- Rating: 4.8 / 5
- Brand: EWK
Slightly smaller in volume than the Mityvac, holding just 6.5 liters of fluid, that should be big enough for all but the biggest of engines. The neat thing about the EWK extractor is that it can be used with the built-in pump or connected to a compressor, which makes life much easier, and gives a relatively fast extraction speed – shifting around 1.6 liters of fluid a minute. EWK says that it can empty an average-sized oil pan within around 5 minutes.
The kit itself comes with three different hoses – the main hose is 7.8 mm ID, and two further hoses measure up at 5.3 mm ID and 4.0 mm ID, all hoses are one meter long, and to make things easier, they really could do with being that bit longer.
The tank itself is polypropylene, which makes it virtually indestructible under normal use, and it can cope with temperatures up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, so hot oil isn’t too much of a problem either. There is an overfill valve fitted, and it will stop sucking the fluid before it gets too full. Overall, it’s a great oil extractor, there’s just one minor flaw – once you remove the fluid tube and adapter, there’s nothing to seal the open hole. If you need to transport it anywhere (let’s say for dumping), you either need to leave the oil pipe attached (which can drip) or find some other way of blanking it off.
This is the least expensive oil extractor here (aside from the electrical pump), and while it does what it’s meant to, you can see how Hydro-Turf has minimized their costings … it has some neat features, like being able to remove the pump assembly, but it’s a push-fit rather than screw-on, and when you’re trying to pump the fluids out, you really need to hold on to the pump assembly and the reservoir to avoid them separating – it’s a bit awkward.
It can hold up to 6 liters of fluid, however, the evacuation tube is pretty small, around .120” which means anything thicker than coolant will take a while to evacuate. It’s not the end of the world, but when you’re just standing there waiting for it, it can seem like a lifetime.
The molded reservoir has a carry handle built-in, and it comes with a free pouring spout as part of the package, which helps to empty the reservoir when you’re done. If you’re looking for a budget oil extractor, then this fits the bill.
The OEMTOOLS 24389 Manual Fluid Extractor is the smallest capacity in the list – measuring in at 5.3 liters. This means that the extractor should be enough for a regular vehicle, but it would be worth checking the amount of oil your car takes before ordering this up, especially as there is an overflow valve that prevents it getting too full – I’d expect that to cut in around 5 liters, and that’s definitely pushing the limit.
The tank itself is made from a one-piece construction, there’s very little to break or go wrong, and it guarantees that it’s leak-proof, which is always handy when you’re dealing with oils. The main hose (which is flexible) is 5’ in length, but the dipstick tubes are only around 28”, which makes them too short to be of serious use … you’ll more than likely need to find some other tubing to either replace the originals or at the very least, lengthen them.
Aside from that minor issue, the rest of it is well made. The fittings on the end of the hoses are professionally crimped rather than just pushed on, and they’re quick connectors so go together very easily without a fuss. Finally, it seems like they’ve put some thought into the design … sometimes these fluid extractors can be hard on the hands, so this has been fitted with an oversize handle, which is much more ergonomic.
Electronic and electrical items just get cheaper and cheaper – this is a full vacuum system or transfer pump, and the price is incredible.
Of course, it’s not quite as self-contained as the other fluid extractors here. You’ll need a couple of extra bits on the shopping list, like a container to pump the fluid in to, but aside from that, you get everything you need: electric pump, 1 x 11mm outlet pipe (150cm long), 1 x 6mm nylon pipe (100cm long) and 1 x 5mm copper pipe (70cm in length), and the electrical power wire with alligator clips – clip it straight on to a 12V battery and you’re good to go.
This electrical unit makes use of a maximum pressure level of 0.8MPA that moves around 5 liters of fluid per minute (depending on the viscosity), however, it can’t cope with anything thicker than regular oil or diesel (definitely no gas siphoning with this). It’s pretty small and compact, you could easily throw this in your trunk, but as I say, you need something to pump the fluids in to … carting around a big container isn’t all that useful!
I’ve chosen five of the best oil extractors to review, some of them come with a few accessories or spare/extra pipes, and some have literally just the pump, so you need to think about what it is that you want to use the extractor for before deciding on which one to buy. If it’s something handy to keep in your garage, that could be used for anything from sucking oil to transferring PAS fluid, then you’ll need one with different diameter tubing.
Equally, if you think that one of these would make for a great brake bleeder (they do), then choose one that comes with a bleed attachment, or at the very least, has it as an optional purchase. One thing worth considering though is the tubing …
… the tubing is generally made of nylon, which gives it some rigidity while still remaining flexible enough to be worked through a dipstick hole and fed down to the bowels of the engine, perfect for evacuating oil. And other kits can also come with softer, more pliable tubing – might be great for certain aspects, but it’s never that useful when evacuating oil, and that problem just gets exacerbated if the oil is hot (which is recommended).
Also, with a slightly harder tube (nylon), it gives you more of an indication of when you’ve reached the bottom of the oil pan … you’ll actually be able to feel it, whereas, with something softer, you’ll never know unless you start measuring it. TOP TIP: Before starting, check the length of the tubing supplied against the dipstick itself.
Using an Oil Extractor
Although I’ve briefly covered a couple of points, it’s probably useful to have a guide on how to use an oil extractor, from a pro’s point of view.
I’ve written this as a general overview, but it’s essentially the same for most vehicles.
You need to get the vehicle up to running temperature – this helps to thin the oil out, which reduces time and stress on the vacuum. But you’ll need to let it cool a little before getting under the hood and pulling bits apart – the metal engine components will generally cool quicker than the oil.
Once you’ve removed the dipstick, (and marked the length of it against the tubing) you should gently try and feed the tube through the dipstick hole. I often find that you may need a little twisting or turning to ease it all the way down. Be careful not to go too far – this could actually result in the tube being forced back up, and usually kinked, which just makes the job almost impossible.
Once you’re confident that the tube is in the right position, start pumping. You’ll normally need 10 – 15 pumps before things get moving (depending on the extractor), and I give it a few extra just to be on the safe side. Go and grab yourself a cup of joe and wait.
Some extractors have markings on the side so you can measure how much fluid you’ve removed. If your vehicle holds 4.5 liters of oil but you only get 1.5 liters out, you know the tube isn’t in properly).
That’s it. Job done. All clean, fuss-free and no mess.