Quick Drain Oil Valves | Being able to work on your own vehicle is part of the joy of vehicle ownership and customization.
The most common maintenance item is also one of the easiest to do yourself, the oil change.
There are many tools on the market that aim to make oil changes as easy and mess free as possible, but do they work as well as claimed?
The traditional way to perform an oil change is to remove the oil drain plug and let the oil drain into some kind of a collection container. Sounds simple enough, but if you've ever tried to do it yourself, some issues arise.
First problem is just getting to the drain plug. Most vehicles are low enough to the ground that you can’t crawl underneath and see what you are doing.
Add an oil collection container and now there isn't enough room to get your hands and tools in there. You'll have to drive the car up on ramps or jack it up on jack stands. Once you've got access, it's messy time.
- It’s usually recommended to do an oil change when the motor is hot as hot oil will flow better and you’ll get more used dirty oil out. Hot oil flows so well that it will likely splash out of your pan and burn you, making a big mess at the same time.
What is supposed to be a quick and fun maintenance job can turn into a big messy frustration. This hasn't gone unnoticed and there are several tools and as-seen-on-tv products to help with oil changes.
There is one device i see fairly often that I wish my performance customers would not use. They are called “Quick Change Oil Valves".
These are little valves that are installed in place of the drain plug. When it comes time to do an oil change, you simply reach under and turn the valve. The oil comes out in a nice stream that is easy to collect without splashing or dripping. Some models even allow a hose to be connected to prevent any chance of a mess.
- While these devices do make oil changes easier and cleaner, they do have major flaws.
The biggest flaw is the chance of accidental opening. Road debris can hit the valve and open it. While this may sound like a hypothetical issue, I have had it happen to several customers and there are countless examples if you search the forums. While most instances of accidental opening did not involve total loss of oil and engine failure, it can happen.
Many of these Quick Change Valves have added little locks to prevent accidental opening, but a good knock to the valve can still cause it to partially open and drip. A large number of these valves that I see also leak oil at the connection to the pan, making a mess of the engine bay.
While accidental opening is a rare problem that may we worth the risk, partial oil changes is a reality of these valves. Just like the factory drain plug, the threads of the valve extend into the oil pan.
But unlike the plug, the threads stay in place when the valve is opened. This prevents all of the oil from being drained from the pan. it may not seem like this small amount of oil will matter much, but this "bottom" oil is critical to remove.
The main reason for doing an oil change is to remove contaminants from the oil and pan. The nastiest of these contaminants are heavy and sink to the bottom of the pan. Due to the protrusion into the pan, these valves do not allow the bottom gunk to properly drain.
Shortcuts lead to failures and oil changes are no exception. If you are unsure or don't want to deal with it, take it to a pro. We're here to help.