An oil change is one of the most frequent exercises for any car with an internal combustion engine and among the simplest maintenance tasks to do on your own. While you can take it to a local lube shop, there is satisfaction in in the comfort of your own . You also save money and have peace of mind knowing exactly what quality filter and oil is going in your engine.
However, an oil change can lead to a big, slippery mess if you don't have, including the right drain pan to catch used engine oil coming out of your car. And while a basic plastic oil pan will get the job done, there are a variety of oil drain pans available with different capacities, profiles, open top and sealed models, and even fancypants pans featuring wheels and a pump. To help make picking the right one for you a little easier, we've compiled a list of our favorites based on firsthand experience and user reviews.
What's not to like here about this oil pan? This FloTool Super Duty sealed plastic pan is affordable, can hold 16 quarts of fluid and can be stored flat or upright for added convenience. There is a handle so it's easier to carry around, and the oil catch pan is nice and big so no worries about the oil stream missing the mark after removing the plug. There is also a designated resting spot to drain the old filter to further keep things tidy. This catch pan is highly rated by Home Depot customers, scoring an impressive 4.6 out of 5 based on more than 160 customer reviews.
Unlike our best overall pick above, this Neiko is an open top pan requiring you to dump used oil into another container before taking it to get recycled. Thankfully, neatly pouring oil from this pan is a cinch thanks to molded handles and a pour spout. It's made from sturdy plastic so it won't bend when picking it up, features an 8-quart capacity that should be good for most vehicles and is a little over 12 inches in diameter with an anti-splash lip -- giving plenty of real estate to catch old engine oil draining streams under your car. It's also well liked by users, boasting a strong 4.7 out of 5 rating on Amazon based off more than 1,000 customer reviews. It's a pan found in the garages of a few Roadshow staffers, too.
If you have a car with a smaller engine that doesn't require quite that much oil, check out this Matrix Concepts M28 Oil Drain Container. This compact drain pan also doubles as a used oil container capable of holding 6 quarts that should be good enough to use with most four-cylinder engines. Users rave about its tight seals on the drain hole, screw cap and large handle that help make oil recycling trips an easy, mess-free endeavor.
For just $4 you can get FloTool's Standard Duty Drain Pan allowing you to get oil change jobs done if you are on a budget. This is an open plastic oil drain pan with a big catch area that's boon for folks whose cars have angled oil drain plugs. Case in point, a pal who has a Toyota Prius with a drain plug that sits at 45-degrees. The oil stream starts out horizontal but ends up vertical. This 15-inch diameter pan catches it all, no problem. It also features 7 quarts of capacity, handles and a molded pouring spout for easy draining into your preferred used oil container.
If you got the cash and are in the market for the Cadillac of oil drain pans, feast your eyes on this Goplus unit here. It can hold up to 17 gallons of old oil, features a T-handled and 4-inch caster wheels for super easy maneuvering. Most importantly, it's got a pump with an 8-foot hose to neatly get used engine oil into transport containers.
If your oil drain plug is in a weird place, you may need a low-profile drain pan. This Pittsburgh Automotive one from Harbor Freight is affordable and just 4.75 inches tall. When used in this position, it can accept 8.5 quarts of motor oil. There are three handles for easy carrying and the two plugs are equipped with rubber O-rings to keep oil leaks around the easy pouring drain spout at bay. To top things off, it's got a very reasonable price tag and 87% of nearly 500 user reviews recommend adding this Pittsburgh oil drain pan to your garage gear arsenal.
If you're working on big machinery like a heavy-duty pickup truck, check out this FloTool Super Duty oil drain tub that can handle up to 24 quarts of used motor oil. There are three handles for easy transport around the garage and the deep pan should keep splashes at bay. Plus, there is a cradle for the oil filter to drain from to keep things around your garage as nice and neat as possible.
With a 15-quart capacity and a lower profile design, this Lumax pan is ideal for working in tighter spaces or vehicles that don't have a ton of ground clearance. Setting this oil drain pan apart from most of the pans on our list are the two wheels on the bottom, which makes sliding it under the car easier. Just grab a handle and tilt it up to make positioning it under the car simple. In addition, there's a strainer at the top of the pan opening to prevent things like the oil drain plugs and crush washers from falling into the pan and being lost forever. It's also a darn popular oil drain pan with a 4.5 out of 5 rating on Amazon, based on more than 5,000 reviews.
This Aain oil drain pan earns an Amazon Choice label for its price and versatility. If you're lucky enough to have a lift in your home garage or pole barn, this oil pan rolls right under your car and can adjust from 40 to 67 inches in height. The funnel is a healthy 14 inches in diameter so angled drain plugs should be no problem. It offers 5 gallons of space that should let you do multiple oil changes before needing to make an oil recycling run.
The SLMOTO low profile oil drain pan is the best if you're looking to do an oil change on your motorcycle. This very slim pan is a mere 2.8 inches tall and boasts a catch area that's roughly 27-inches-by-16-inches meaning you have a big target area to hit when draining oil from your Harley-Davidson hog or Honda sport bike. It also offers an 8-quart capacity for used motorcycle oil and a molded handle to make transport easier. It's popular with Amazon customers, with an incredibly strong 4.7 out of 5 rating.
While many of the oil pans on the list are wide to reduce the chances of unwanted messes from oil splashes and spills, there's always a chance of a rogue fluid drip ending up on your precious garage floor. To provide extra insurance against used oil dirtying your floor during oil changes consider this Lumax LX-1715 Galvanized Drip Pan. This drip tray measures in at approximately 4-by-2 feet, providing a sizable splash protection zone around your oil drain pan. It's made from galvanized steel metal (making it rust resistant) and features rolled edges, giving you a smooth lip to grab onto when sliding it around under vehicles.
If you're looking for more floor protection around your drain pan from oil splash and oil spillage, another option besides a drip tray is an oil mat like this one from Armor All. This oil spill mat is roughly 5-by-2.5 feet with a waterproof, slip-resistant backing. The top polyester fiber layer contains oil and is easy to clean with soap and water. Unlike a drip pan, it can be rolled up and stored when not in use.
Comparison of the best oil drain pans for 2021
|Best oil drain pan overall||FloTool||Super Duty 16 Quart Drain Container||16 quarts|
|Best oil drain pan overall runner-up||Neiko||Oil Drain Pan 20762A||8 quarts|
|Best small oil drain pan||Matrix Concepts||M28 Oil Drain Container||6 quarts|
|Best cheap oil drain pan||FloTool||Standard Duty 7 Quart Drain Pan||7 quarts|
|Best oil drain pan if money is no object||Goplus||Portable Oil Drain Pan with Pump||17 gallons|
|Best low-profile oil drain pan||Pittsburgh Automotive||Waste Oil Container||8.5 quarts|
|Best high-capacity oil drain pan||FloTool||Super Duty 24 Quart Drain Container||24 quarts|
|Best oil drain pan with wheels||Lumax||Drainmaster Pan and Waste Storage||15 quarts|
|Best oil drain pan with wheels if you have a lift||Aain||Adjustable Height Waste Oil Drain with Wheels||5 gallons|
|Best oil drain pan for motorcycles||SLMOTO||Low Profile Oil Drain Pan||8 quarts|
Why use an oil drain pan?
This is perhaps the easiest question to answer. You should use an oil drain pan because oil does not belong on your garage floor, on your hands, in the dirt, on the grass, on your driveway, in the gutter or in your garbage can. By collecting your used motor oil in an oil drain pan you can dispose of it properly and keep potential environmental damage to a minimum. We humans already do enough damage to Mother Earth. Using an oil drain pan is the least you can do.
How do oil drain pans work?
Before you buy an oil drain pan, but sure you know how much it needs to hold. A pal with a Lamborghini Espada was overwhelmed the first time he changed the oil in the classic car, which dumped 17 quarts of oil into his 10-quart pan. He was left with a mini-Exxon Valdez to clean up.
Also, note that we're writing today about oil drain pans, not oil transportation vessels, though many of the ones featured on our list do double as a drain pan and storage/transport container. Others, like the open top Neiko pan are great for collecting used motor oil, they are not sufficient to transport old oil to your local hazardous waste disposal site. It's best practice to pour the used oil into the oil container you just emptied into your car or a dedicated waste oil container. This ensures you'll get to the disposal site without spilling anything.
Where can I dump my used motor oil?
To find your local hazardous waste disposal site, just Google your locality plus "hazardous waste disposal" or "oil recycling." Some locations are open every day, but in smaller towns you might find they're only open one or two days a month. Be prepared to show identification proving you live there. Most of the time, there is no charge. Some sites will take your container, forcing you to return later to pick it up. That's just one more reason to transfer used oil out of the drain pan and into a separate container. A local auto parts store is also a good bet -- many take and recycle waste oil.