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How to Recycle Old Motor Oil

While it might be easier for drivers to take their cars down to the shop and have their mechanic change their oil for them, some prefer to change the motor oil in their cars themselves. For those who prefer DIY oil changes, it’s important you know how to do it before attempting it and that you know how to handle the used oil properly. Whether you choose to dispose of the old oil or recycle it, you need to know how to do it safely and effectively. To get an idea of what this process entails, check out some of our tips below before you get started on that oil change.

Capturing Old Motor Oil

First of all, when you drain your crankcase and then remove your filter, it’s crucial that you catch every ounce of the oil, as this prevents the oil from washing into a river, a stream, or a storm drain as well as the soil. Also, gather the oil in a metal or clean plastic container, which should also have a firmly sealed lid. Only use plastic containers made with suitable plastic, such as polyethylene (PE). For instance, a milk jug would not be a suitable container for old motor oil, but the original container for that oil would work.

Finally, don’t mix the used oil with household chemicals (differential oil, solvent, paint, antifreeze, etc.) or similar automotive fluids. It’s also best to avoid containers that once had these types of chemicals for storing old motor oil.

Handling Old Motor Oil

Once the old oil has been replaced with new oil, car owners must decide between disposing of and recycling the old oil. To properly recycle the used oil, you must take it to a nearby household waste recycling center or an oil change center that will accept oil containers. No matter which way you decide to go, make sure to call to ensure the facility accepts containers of old motor oil.

When car owners choose to recycle their used oil, it is cleaned and then reused as fuel oil—a gallon of old motor oil translates to a gallon of fuel oil. As well, after high-intensity processing, the used oil can be refined into lubricants with a yield of roughly 60 percent—a gallon of old motor oil offers roughly 2.5 quarts of lubricating base oil. Even old oil from boats, motorcycles, lawn mowers, and farm equipment can be refined or reused. For those who don’t know where to look for recycling their used motor oil, they might try looking up Earth 911, which can help people connect with environmental programs near them.

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