Suction vs. gravity | What is the best way to change your oil?

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Changing the oil

Changing your oil does not always have to mean crawling under the car. Image from Flickr.

Getting your oil changed, or changing your own oil, seems like a pretty basic process. Drain out the oil, replace the filter, put everything back together, and add new oil. In some mechanics’ garages and quick-lube shops, though, “suction” or “siphon” oil changing methods are gaining popularity. What are the basic differences between suction oil changes and plug oil changes?

The traditional oil change

Most oil changes, since the earliest vehicles, have relied on gravity to get the oil out of the engine. There is a drain plug at the bottom of the engine that can be removed. When that plug is removed, gravity drains the oil out of the engine. In most mechanic shops, the gravity method is still used to change the oil. In theory, the sludge and gunk that settles in the oil pan is more likely to get drained out with this system.

The siphon/suction oil change

Recently, new machines have been making an appearance; they use a siphoning or suctioning method to change the oil. Originally designed for boats, these machines attach to the dipstick tube and suck the oil out of the engine. As long as the oil filter is still changed every time, these machines supposedly work as well as gravity oil changes. There are some enthusiasts who claim that these siphoning oil changes actually get more oil and gunk out of the engine during every change. Others, though, worry that the suction method of changing the oil might miss some of the most important parts of an oil change.

Do suction oil changes work?

In the end, a suctioning oil change will probably work about as well as gravity oil changes. It is still important, though, that when you change the oil you remember to replace the filter and check the other fluids. If you go to a mechanic or quick lube place to get your oil changed, ask which type of oil change method they use. No matter what type of method is used, it is most important to just remember to change your oil.

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