Oil Extractor Vs. Drain Plug: Which Method Works Best?

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Changing the oil regularly keeps the engine from an early death. It’s a crucial factor that makes sure the engine works smoothly. When it comes to the different oil changing methods, you can go for an oil extractor or a drain plug to get the job done.

Now, some mechanics prefer an oil extractor, while others go for a drain plug instead. So, which one should you chose? Is either of them a more superior method? 

Here we will discuss everything you need to know about the oil extractor vs. drain plug. We will list the pros and cons of each method, talk about what defines them, and what sets them apart. 

Oil Extractor Vs. Drain Plug – What to Pick?

The more often you change the oil, the longer your engine will last. Plenty of different contaminants can affect the oil, and they all come from various sources. For example, an engine that works on gasoline can get affected by combustion gasses, which can have a heavy impact on the power cycle.

oil extractor vs drain plug which method works best


Luckily, you only have to change the oil only a couple of times for each engine, and you have useful extracting methods you can try. But, before we get to the positive and negative sides of each oil extracting method, we have to define them first. 

  • Oil Extractor: This is a device that pulls up the oil directly from the crankcase. The way it works is by inserting a very thin and generally long tube into the opening of the dipstick. With the help of the handle, it will create a powerful vacuum to suck all the oil and transfer it to the container attached to the device itself.  
  • Drain Plug: Every engine tank has a plug. The moment you have to change the oil, you will have to remove the plug. This will allow for all the oil to pour out and into a metal container that will be placed right under the tank.

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of an oil extractor vs. drain plug. 

Method 1: Changing the Oil Via the Drain Plug

The first method that comes to mind when changing the oil is draining it via the drain plug. Most mechanics prefer this method and have been relying on it for years.

It’s by far the fastest and most time-saving method for changing the oil. In just around 5 minutes, all the oil from a hot engine will get removed. With this method, you are more likely to change every bit of the oil, even the sludge on the bottom of the tank. 

The great thing about this method is that you don’t have much work to do. You just remove the plug and leave the rest to gravity. While you wait for the oil to get drained, you can focus on some other tasks. When you compare the oil extractor vs. drain plug, this is where the drain plug makes for a clear winner.

But it is incredibly messy. If you misplace the pan just slightly, the oil will miss the target and spill everywhere. Oil is one of the hardest things to clean, so spilling oil in your garage just makes the whole process a million times more difficult. 

Also, you have to raise your car, which is why most people prefer to take their car to the mechanic than do this at home. 


  • Time-saving method
  • Can remove all the oil
  • Feel free to do something else while the oil drains 
  • It’s a typical way of changing the oil


  • Very dirty and messy process
  • The car must be high up
  • Difficult to clean if the oil spills

Method 2: Changing the Oil With an Oil Extractor

Draining the oil has always been a messy and long process. An oil extractor changes this old-school process and replaces it with a less-messy alternative. These extractors come with a huge container, a long pump, and a handle. When used, they will create a vacuum to suck out the oil inside and store it in the container.

This type of method is by far the cleanest way to change the engine without having to leave a huge mess behind. Some extractors even have a spout that makes the whole process of transferring and pouring a lot easier. 

Now, the great thing about it is that you don’t have to raise the car. So, this is something that can save you a trip to the mechanic. But, of course, nothing is perfect. The one major drawback you will experience with the oil extractor is that around 5% of the unchanged oil will still remain in the engine. 

If you are someone who regularly changes the oil, there is nothing to worry about. But, if you prefer to get the oil changed from time to time, then the better option would be to drain the oil via the drain plug. In other words, it is possible that the oil extractor won’t remove all the sludge that remains in the engine. 

Another thing to have in mind is that working with an oil extractor takes a while to finish. So, you will have to be prepared to invest a lot more time removing the oil, particularly from a cold engine. This may be a huge setback for those on a tight schedule.


  • Super clean process
  • Easy to work with
  • The car can be flat on the ground


  • You can’t move away from the tool; you have to work it manually
  • 5% of the oil can remain unchanged
  • Takes a while

What Should You Go For?

When making the decision oil extractor vs. drain plug, it all comes down to personal preference. If you like to use a faster method and you don’t mind the mess, then the drain plug is the way to go. 

But, if you are looking for a cleaner and more convenient method you can do at home, the oil extractor is definitely the best pick. So, which one do you think works better? Let us know in the comments below.