If you are in the habit of changing your own oil, then you can’t really even get started until you’re ready with an oil drain pan. Not only are these great for avoiding messy spills in your garage or driveway, but they are also perfect for transporting used oil to recycling centers so that sludge doesn’t end up in your local water supply or contaminating your home’s ground.
But which pan is the best for you? We’ve pulled together a list of our picks for the best oil drain pans available to help you decide which drain pan can best serve you.
How We Selected The Products
When creating this guide, we looked at more than a dozen oil drain pans. We narrowed them down to the ones we selected based on various factors, such as size, durability. We looked at various features, such as handles and spouts. We also chose oil drain pans from various price ranges to give you a wide range of options.
Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.
Buying Guide/What to Look For
Size and Shape
Oil drain pans come in a variety of shapes and sizes in order to accommodate as many vehicles as possible. The design and location of the oil drain on your car will be the key factor in deciding the dimensions of the drain pan you purchase.
You don’t want a product that is inadequate for the amount of oil in your car but you also don’t want a large capacity oil drain pan that holds much more than your car has. It wastes storage space and causes a bigger headache when the time comes to recycle that used oil. As a general rule, try to find a drain pan that holds twice the quart capacity of your car.
Not all oil drain pans are created equal, and you certainly don’t want an inferior one that won’t hold up. Make sure the drain pan you purchase is constructed from high-grade materials or is sufficiently thick to handle some abuse.
A pour spout is a really handy feature if you want to pour out oil without having to worry about spilling it. Your full drain pan will have to be emptied at some point and a decent spout will help prevent extremely messy oil spills.
The average car engine holds anywhere from 5-8 quarts of motor oil which is worth about 10 to 16 pounds of fluid. A sealable pan design with carrying handles makes the chore of recycling the old oil less stressful and saves valuable time.
- Mesh Screen: Having a mesh screen over your drip pan opening can prevent drain plugs or bolts from falling into the pan, saving some major headaches. This is especially true if you need to use a big oil drain pan for large vehicles.
- Size of Mouth Opening: The sizes and shapes of the opening in available drain pans will vary but a decent-sized opening helps prevent the pan from getting overwhelmed. An open pan will never suffer from this but a more practical sealed pan comes with a variety of sizes.
- If you don’t have a lot of space at home, we recommend purchasing a drain pan that is sealable. This helps prevent messy oil spills, makes fluids easier to store for a longer time, and makes the final trip to the parts store for oil recycling much easier and possible with a normal car and some plastic bags.
- More fluid capacity isn’t always better. You only ever need the capacity for about 50 percent more than the fluid capacity of your car. An overly large drain pan can take a long time to fill, take up more space, and be a much bigger headache when it’s time to dispose of the oil.
- Not all pans are created equal. Some are better at catching oil and some are better at catching coolant, power steering fluid, or any other variety of automotive liquids. It’s best to get a large, open-drain pan for jobs like a coolant flush where the fluid gets everywhere, and a normal, smaller drain pan works well for oil changes.
Q: Where can I recycle my used oil?
You can take used engine oil to an automotive shop to have it recycled. Also, most retail stores that sell motor oil will recycle it.
Q: What is the best material that oil drain pans are made of?
Something lightweight and durable would make the best material for obvious reasons. Among the list would be polyurethane and high-density polyethylene.
Q: How long will an oil drain pan last?
If properly maintained and stored, a drain pan will last for years. Like all tools, your oil pan needs to be cleaned and stored in a dry location to maximize its lifespan.