How to Green the Oil Change

Everybody knows that a regular oil change improves your cars performance, helps with gas consumption and lowers emissions but did you know that an improper oil change can negate all of these gains? According to the EPA, nearly 200 million gallons of used motor oil is improperly disposed of every year here in the USA. Horrible fact: The oil from just one oil change can contaminate one million gallons of water, which equates to a year’s supply for 50 people. Ouch.

But no one wants to discourage you from changing the oil and also not from doing it yourself. As I pointed out, oil changes improve your cars performance and doing it yourself saves a lot of money. But if you are a do-it-yourself oil changer, the EPA has provided the following guidelines to ensure the process is as clean as possible. You can read more about it at the EPA website HERE. Or you can just hang in with me, since you’re already here, for the basic guidelines.


After draining the oil, but before removing the drip pan from under the car, close and secure the drain plug and check for leaks.

If you are changing the oil filter, drain it for a minimum of 12 hours into a clean plastic container with a tight-fitting lid (do not use a container that once held chemicals, food, or beverages). Then, carefully pour the oil from the drip pan into the container.

Reuse your drip pan; do not rinse residual oil down the drain or into your yard.

If you do accidentally spill any oil, use absorbent material like sawdust or cat litter to clean the spill, then dispose of it in the trash.

Used motor oil (from cars, trucks, boats, motorcycles, or lawn equipment) can be recycled to make new motor oil. Did you know that 2.5 quarts of new lubricating oil can be made from one gallon of used motor oil? It can also be processed into fuel oils or other materials. So remember that after you have changed your oil you should take it to a local service station or recycling center that collects used motor oil for recycling. Some facilities will collect used filters as well; if not, ask your waste collection service if the filter can be disposed of with your household trash.

To find a recycling center near you, visit the American Petroleum Institute Website. In California, you can visit either the Governments’ Used Oil Certified Collection Centers , the Waste Management Board’s Used Oil Recycling Program or CALL Earth 911.

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