What Are The Best Oil Drain Pans? (2019 Reviews & Guide)
Just about any container which doesn’t leak can hold oil. But “not leaking” is really the bare minimum. When working on your car, you want an oil drain pan by your side. They’re perfect for practically any automotive job involving changing, draining, or transporting oil.
Oil drain pans all seem similar at first glance, but small features can make a big difference. The best oil drain pans make working on your car easy, clean, and safe. We’ve gathered up our favorite oil pans for 2019. Plus, our complete guide will help you find the perfect one for your specific needs:
Compare The Top 3 Best Oil Drain Pans
- Our #1 Pick – Lumax LX-1632 15-Quart Drainmaster
- Our #2 Pick – ATD Tools 5184 Drain Pan
- Our #3 Pick – Capri Tools Portable Oil Drain Pan
- Our #4 Pick – Hopkins 58-Quart Super Duty Drain Container
- Our #5 Pick – Custom Accessories Oil Drum Pan
- Complete Guide to Oil Drain Pans
- Why Do You Need an Oil Drain Pan?
- What are the Different Types of Oil Drain Pans?
- Drain Container
- Simple Drain Pan
- What Features Should an Oil Pan Have?
- Materials Used
- How Do I Use an Oil Drain Pan?
- 1. Prepare Your Car
- 2. Park the Car
- 3. Remove the Oil Cap
- 4. Start Opening the Oil Plug
- 5. Position the Pan
- 6. Drain the Oil
- 7. Replace the Oil Filter
- 8. Remove the Oil Pan
- 9. Add Oil
- How Do I Dispose of Used Motor Oil?
- Final Thoughts
Our #1 Pick – Lumax LX-1632 15-Quart Drainmaster
This 15-quart storage tank with a large catch-all basket is great for both oil collection and transport.
- 15-quart tank with eight-inch collection opening
- O-ring seal keeps oil safely inside container
- Easy to carry and transport
- Made from heavy-duty plastic
- Requires five-inch clearance underneath the car
It’s simple, durable, and easy to use. Lumax’s 15-quart tank holds all the oil from almost any type of car or trunk. Plus, the eight-inch opening catches draining oil without making a mess or requiring a funnel.
Once the oil is collected, engage the exclusive O-ring seal to close the opening. Now you can easily take the container to an oil recycling center without worrying about leaks or spills.
The container sits on its side when collecting oil. Once sealed, you carry it upright with the no-slip handle. A pour spout at the top allows for easy removal of the oil at a collection center or other disposal location.
The heavy-duty construction is durable, freeze-resistant, and flexible. E-Z roll wheels allow you to roll the container across your garage floor without worrying about sloshing or spills.
Our #2 Pick – ATD Tools 5184 Drain Pan
This drain pan from ATD Tools has sturdy, plastic construction with a four-and-a-half gallon capacity.
- Open pan with a four-gallon capacity
- Six inches deep with a 15-inch diameter
- Durable, lightweight plastic construction
- Anti-splash lip helps prevent spills
- Not suitable for transporting oil
If you’re looking for an open oil pan, consider this large one from ATD Tools. It has a four-and-a-half gallon capacity which should be sufficient for most cars. The total dimensions are six inches deep with a diameter of 15.25 inches.
Every aspect of the pan is designed to collect oil. The inside is grooved to help prevent splashing while funneling the oil towards the middle. Plus, an anti-splash lip helps prevent spills when sliding the full pan out from underneath the car.
The molded handle creates a secure grip around the entire lip of the pan. Additionally, the handle allows you to pour out the collected oil easily for safe disposal.
Our #3 Pick – Capri Tools Portable Oil Drain Pan
Portable and tough, this two-gallon pan from Capri Tools is right at home underneath practically any vehicle.
- Durable polyethylene construction
- Anti-splash lip helps prevent spills
- Eight-liter capacity
- Doesn’t have wheels
- Not designed for transport
While it’s not packed with frills and extras, it’s a reliable and versatile choice. Made from polyethylene, it’ll last a long time and is resistant to extreme temperatures.
An anti-splash lip prevents splatter when collecting and pouring. It can hold up to eight liters of fluid. Even when full, it’s easy to carry thanks to the lightweight construction and molded handle.
Our #4 Pick – Hopkins 58-Quart Super Duty Drain Container
With an enormous 58-quart capacity and leak-proof design, this is a container you can trust to keep big jobs free from spills.
- Super-sized 58-quart capacity
- Tight seals and leak-proof design
- Comfortable, ergonomic handles
- Wheeled bottom for easy transport
- Large size makes it difficult to store
- High capacity is more than a single vehicle owner probably needs
Fifty-eight quarts might seem like more capacity than you need for most at-home vehicle maintenance, but it’s actually a convenient way to change the oil in multiple cars. The main draw for the home mechanic here is the easy portability.
It has a 16-quart drain container to capture oil easily. You’re not catching oil directly into the main reservoir, which helps prevent splash back and overflow.
Heavy-duty caps and seals prevent leaks no matter if the container is upright or on its side. It also has ergonomic handles. Plus, it has wheels. You’ll have no problem moving the container even when it’s full.
Our #5 Pick – Custom Accessories Oil Drum Pan
Although it’s free from fancy features, this no-frills oil pan is a reliable way to catch oil and keep your garage clean.
- Six-quart capacity
- Lightweight, durable plastic construction
- Included pour spout helps guide drainage
- No fancy features, handholds or grooves
Simple by design, this oil pan from Custom Accessories is lightweight, dependable, and easy to use. With a six-quart capacity, it’s ideal for smaller vehicles such as compact cars, scooters, and motorcycles.
It includes a pour spout so you can easily transfer the oil to a travel container. Is this the fanciest oil pan on the market? Not at all. But it’s a solid and reliable choice for when you need a quick pan in hand while performing light maintenance.
Complete Guide to Oil Drain Pans
Why Do You Need an Oil Drain Pan?
We’ve all been there at some point. You’re working on your car. Some oil needs to be drained. You’re in a hurry and just want to get the job done. You grab an aluminum pan, small cup, or another non-specialized container.
Almost any container will hold oil. But holding oil isn’t the major issue. You also have to transport the oil. So, you slide the pan or cup out from under your car. It’s hard to hold and maybe even bends.
Disposing of the oil is no picnic, either. You have to pour the oil from your makeshift container into something secure enough for transportation. Picture pouring oil from an aluminum pan into an empty motor oil jug. A gigantic mess is practically guaranteed!
Oil drain pans make everything easier. They slide right under your car and catch oil with minimal splatter. Plus, they can be completely sealed for easy (and mess-free) transportation.
Oil drain pans are better for the environment, too. Motor oil is considered toxic waste. You can’t dump it in the yard or let it run down a sewer drain. Even small amounts of wayward oil can cause damage. Oil drain pans help you contain all the oil from your car for proper disposal.
What are the Different Types of Oil Drain Pans?
There are two general types:
This type of pan doubles as a container. The oil drains into a large mouth, often with a graded ramp to help control the oil’s flow. When full, the mouth closes to seal the container securely. Drain containers have a handle for carrying.
Usually, the container fits on its side when underneath your car. You’ll drain the oil into a large circle on the side. Then you’ll seal it up and carry it like a gas tank or briefcase.
Simple Drain Pan
These pans catch draining oil but aren’t made for transporting it long distances or in a car. They’re open at the top so oil could spill out if the pan tips too far.
However, they’re far more effective than an aluminum pan or another generic container. A simple drain oil pan is made from durable, lightweight plastic. It holds its shape, so the oil rests evenly without pooling or sloshing.
Plus, most have a spout. You don’t have to tip the pan to empty the collected oil. You just pour the oil into a larger container.
Although the lack of portability is a negative, these simple drain pans are quick and easy to use.
What Features Should an Oil Pan Have?
All oil pans do basically the same thing. So, how much do they really vary from brand to brand? Actually, oil pans can be significantly different from one another. You want to choose one based on the quantity of oil you’ll be working with and what you plan to do with the old oil once it’s drained.
Here are the key features to consider when selecting an oil drain pan:
The capacity is the amount of oil the pan can hold. Generally, the capacity of the pan should equal your engine’s oil capacity plus fifty percent. For example, if your car holds five quarts of oil, the pan should hold seven and a half quarts.
Not sure how much oil your car holds? Check the owner’s manual for specifics. On average, cars hold between four and five quarts of oil. Fifteen quarts is about the upper limit for large trucks.
The capacity is the amount of oil the pan can hold, but the dimensions determine its specific size and shape. You might be surprised at how much oil even a thin pan can hold.
The height is usually the most important aspect. Make sure it can fit under your car. If you have a truck or an SUV with lots of clearance, almost any oil pan will probably fit without a problem. However, if you have a low-profile car, then you’ll need a slim pan.
Drain containers have a circular opening to collect the oil. The larger the opening, the easier oil can be collected.
Many drain containers will have openings as large as several inches in diameter. However, you can also find containers will smaller openings, about the size of a soda can or less. For smaller openings, you might want to use a funnel to help collect the oil. However, a funnel does take up vertical space, which can be an issue with a low-profile car.
Simple drain pans have a large open area able to catch oil. They’re the easiest to use because you don’t have to be very precise when placing the pan underneath the oil stream.
Most simple drain pans are either circular or rectangular. Circular can be a little easier to handle when full because the oil weight will distribute evenly throughout the circle. Rectangular can be a little easier to use when you have to guesstimate where an oil stream will start. But there aren’t too many significant differences between the two shapes.
Because they’re designed to be carried, drain containers need a secure, easy-to-grip handle. Textured grips are often ideal because you can hold them securely even if they’re slick with oil. Also, make sure the handle is centered on the top of the container. When the weight of the oil is evenly distributed, the container is easier to carry.
The best oil drain pans are usually made from polyethylene or a similar tough plastic. It provides the best combination of durability and flexibility. You want the pan to have a slight give, so it bends with the oil instead of allowing it to slosh over the sides.
You can sometimes find metal oil drain pans, but they’re usually not as good as polyethylene ones. Metal pans get slick when smeared with oil, while plastic pans will usually retain a secure grip. Plus, metal pans can get hot, which can cause injury.
Oil drain pans are usually pretty low-tech, but there are a few features which can be useful.
A mesh screen on the collection area allows the oil to pass through but prevents bolts and other objects from accidentally falling into the tank.
Wheels are also useful. You can roll the pan underneath the vehicle instead of dragging it. However, be careful with wheeled pans, especially if your garage floor has a slight slope. The pan could accidentally roll and spill.
How Do I Use an Oil Drain Pan?
Keep an oil pan nearby whenever you’re working on your vehicle. Your car’s systems are filled with fluid. You never know when an accidental leak might occur. Being able to grab a pan quickly can prevent a big mess.
However, for the most part, you’ll use your oil drain pan when you’re changing your car’s oil. Here’s a quick rundown on how to change your oil (and when you’ll need your pan).
1. Prepare Your Car
Oil thins when warm. Thin oil drains quickly and easily. Before changing your oil, drive your car around for about five or 10 minutes. Running the engine warms the oil.
2. Park the Car
Park in a flat location like a garage or driveway. Avoid parking near traffic, even on the side of a residential road. You’ll be hard for passing traffic to see when you’re working underneath your car.
3. Remove the Oil Cap
Remove the cap on the oil reservoir. It’s where you add new oil. Removing the cap allows air to flow through the hose, which increases the drainage rate.
4. Start Opening the Oil Plug
Grab your oil pan because you’re going under the car! You’re looking for the oil plug. It’s a large bolt underneath the oil reservoir. (The oil reservoir is the tank where you just removed the cap in the previous step.)
Use a socket wrench to unscrew the nut which holds the oil plug in place. But don’t take the nut off completely! You want to loosen it enough so you can soon open the plug with your fingers.
5. Position the Pan
Here’s where all your careful shopping pays off. Your pan should easily fit underneath your vehicle. It should have a wide collection for easy positioning underneath the reservoir. Place your pan in position.
6. Drain the Oil
Unscrew the reservoir nut. The oil will start draining. If you have the right pan, this part should be simple. The oil will drain right into the pan without a single drop spilled.
While the specifics will vary based on your vehicle type, total drainage time should only take about five minutes. Keep an eye on the process to ensure nothing goes wrong. But you don’t have to wait underneath the car the entire time.
7. Replace the Oil Filter
Check your user’s manual to find the exact location of your car’s oil filter. There’s no standard spot used. It might be on top of, underneath, behind or to the side of your engine.
Keep the pan in place underneath the reservoir. Pulling out the filter will likely unleash a stream of oil. Be sure and keep your face out of the way, too! After removing the filter, allow any excess oil to drain.
Smear a thin sheen of oil around the gasket ring of the new filter. Doing so helps create a tight seal. Then pop the new filter in place. In most cases, you can do this by hand, but check the instructions for specifics. Finally, you’ll replace the oil plug. Thread the drain plug into the reservoir and tighten the washer.
You can remove the oil pan from underneath the car anytime after removing the old filter. But many people prefer the keep the pan where it is until the oil plug is replaced. Working on and around the oil reservoir has a way of causing drips and drops. The pan helps protect your garage floor.
8. Remove the Oil Pan
Remember how the pan’s capacity should be your car’s total oil reservoir plus fifty percent? Here’s where you’ll see how important that is. Pulling the pan out from underneath the car should be mess-free if it’s the right size. But if it’s too small, the oil will likely slosh out the sides.
9. Add Oil
It’s time to crawl out from under the car. Your last step is adding oil to the oil reservoir. Check your owner’s manual for the exact amount, but most vehicles need between four and five quarts. Screw the cap back on and close the hood. Finally, run your car for about five minutes to let the oil circulate.
Congratulations, you’ve successfully changed your oil! But now you have a pan or container filled with used motor oil. What are you supposed to do with it?
How Do I Dispose of Used Motor Oil?
Never pour oil down the sink or wash it away with a hose. Oil is a dangerous toxic waste that must be disposed of properly.
First, you’ll need a container. Never store oil in an old motor oil container. Also, never use a milk jug, juice bottle or another beverage container. Only store oil in a container specifically made to hold used motor oil, such as the drain containers listed above.
However, before pouring oil in a sealed container, let it cool for at least 10 minutes in an open pan. Hot oil can burst through a sealed container. Check the temperature of the oil by placing your hand above the open pan. If you can feel the heat, the oil is too hot to add to a closed container.
If you’re pouring oil from a pan into a container, set down some newspaper or a tarp to help catch any spills. If you’re using a combo pan/container, simply tighten the seals once the cool is suitably cool.
Search online for the closest oil collection site. Many oil change places will accept used oil. The federal government also has a searchable database to help you find a nearby location. Many gas stations will also accept used motor oil. If you find a place which wants to charge you to dispose of your motor oil, keep searching. Most places will take oil for free.
Oil drain pans are often underestimated. But while they might seem simple, they play an important role in a wide range of auto maintenance tasks ranging from simple to complex. Keep your garage floor clean, and keep yourself safe from accidental injury, by stocking your garage with a quality oil drain pan.