Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Used Oil Handling in the Home Garage

I'm not someone who pays others to do what I can do myself, so I do most of my own work on my cars. That includes oil changes. I use high quality synthetic oil like Amsoil in all three of our cars, so really only need to change the oil once or twice per year, but since the Cayman holds almost two gallons of oil, it adds up to a lot of used oil that I have to deal with. I have a 5-gallon jerry can that can store a year's worth of used oil, but it's a pain to take it to drop off because it gets so heavy and if it fell over in the car it would probably leak considerably. Our county waste center is also more geared towards dropping off containers without regard to getting them back. Finally, my time is very limited and valuable, so any solution that involves scrounging for containers, transferring waste into small containers, or taking oil around to auto parts stores is a non-starter.

So, I've been thinking about a more effective way to deal with used oil. In any Process Improvement initiative, I always try to come up with concrete requirements so that I can design a solution that addresses all of them.
For this solution, I have the following requirements:
  • 1) I want to take the oil to the county waste collection point and drop off without having to worry about getting my container back.
  • 2) I want to safely store used oil at the house without fear of leakage.
  • 3) I don't want to transfer oil into small containers.
  • 4) I only want to transfer the oil once.
Photo by
The solution: 2.5 gallon plastic jugs. (Incidentally I have purchased from in the past and they are great.) They cost almost $6 each but I'll only need about two per year, adding $12 to the cost of my annual oil changes. In the scheme of things, this is a drop in the bucket and I'm still saving far more than that by not paying a shop to do my oil changes. I should also note that when I had a cat, I used the empty kitty litter containers for exactly this purpose, and they were pretty much the same sort of container. They worked great! Let me hear your ideas for dealing with used oil and other waste products in the home garage. UPDATE: Since the jugs at ULINE can only be ordered in case quantities, and I don't want 12 of these things hanging around, I found a vendor on Amazon that sells four 2.5 gallon jugs for $35. One jug holds a couple oil changes (one for the Porsche) and keeps things tidy. Win!!


  1. go to your favorite restaurant and ask for one of their fry oil containers. works great and are free .

  2. Great suggestion! Thanks.