How to correctly dispose of used engine oil (2023)

How to correctly dispose of used engine oil (1)

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Kwik Fit | Wednesday 11th July 2018 9:15am

You might not normally pay much attention to the oil in your car, but it plays an essential role in keeping you on the roads. By lubricating the moving parts in the engine and cooling, cleaning, and protecting these parts, it helps to ensure your vehicle runs smoothly and your engine doesn’t seize up.

Over time, oil picks up dirt and its chemical composition changes, making it less effective at performing its role. This is why it’s so important to keep an eye on your engine oil and to replace it whenever necessary.

Keep reading for top tips to help you identify when the oil in your car needs to be replaced, and for advice on how to dispose of this liquid correctly and safely.

Is it time for a change?

So, you’ve just checked the dipstick and discoveredthat the oil level in your car is fine. This means there’s no need to changeyour oil, right? Actually, this may be wrong. Of course, the oil level in yourengine is extremely important, and if it drops then you need to top it up. However,this isn’t the only indicator that you need to consider. Simply checking thelevel of oil on the dipstick doesn’t tell you anything about the foreignparticles and dirt that may have accumulated in the oil, and it doesn’t let youknow if its chemical makeup has degraded.

In order to assess the condition of the oil, you need to check its colour and general appearance. New oil is light brown and transparent. Over time as it’s used, it begins to change. It gets darker and slowly becomes thicker and turns opaque. Whereas fresh oil looks similar to maple syrup, oil that’s been used for thousands of miles tends to be black and much more viscous, eventually taking on a tar-like appearance. If your oil looks like this, the chances are it’s time to change it.

If you’re prepared to get your hands dirty, you can also check its consistency. Take a small amount of oil from the end of the dipstick and simply rub it between your fingers. If you notice any grit, this is another sign that it may need to be replaced.

Check the owner's manual

It’s also possible to see if you need an oil change without even opening the bonnet. Your car manual will outline the number of miles you can drive before changing your oil, so a straightforward calculation should help you to decide if you need to take action. Vehicle manufacturers used to advise drivers to change the oil every 3,000 miles, but thanks to improvements in the lubricants now used in cars, this figure is usually much higher.

Also, lots of modern cars keep track of scheduled oil changes themselves. If your vehicle does this, a warning light will appear on your dashboard when your next change is due.

Look out for tell-tale signs

There are also tell-tale signs to watch out for that could suggest your car needs new oil. For example, if your oil level keeps dropping, this may suggest you have a leak or that your oil is losing its lubricating properties and your engine is therefore using more of it to keep running smoothly.

In addition, if your engine starts to sound louder than usual, this is another hint that something could be amiss with your oil. Increased noise can be a sign that the moving parts in your engine are grinding against each other, potentially causing damage.

If in doubt, ask an expert

If you’re not sure if your engine oil needs to be replaced, get an expert to check it out. When it comes to keeping your engine running smoothly, there’s no room for taking risks. If you leave it too long between changes, you could do serious damage to your car and land yourself with a big bill.

For expert advice, you can call into your nearest Kwik Fit centre for a free oil check.

What should I do with the used oil?

Most people get specialist technicians to change their engine oil, but if you prefer to get stuck in and do these types of vehicle maintenance tasks yourself, it’s important that you know what you’re doing. This liquid can be dangerous and polluting if it’s not handled correctly, so make sure you take extra care when doing this and have all the relevant equipment to hand.

For example, you should ensure you have an oil spill kit on standby before you drain the old oil from your engine. You can buy this equipment online, from DIY chains or from car part suppliers. You’ll also need a purpose-made sump canister or a drip tray to hold the oil safely as you drain it.

It’s vital that you store your used oil in a suitable plastic or metal container until you’re able to dispose of it. The container you use must have a lid that you can fasten securely to prevent any spills when you’re transporting it. Ensure you don’t mix the oil with household chemicals or other automotive fluids, and avoid using containers that have previously stored these substances.

Find your local oil bank

Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to simply pour youroil onto the ground or down the drain. If you do this, you’re not onlypolluting the environment - you’re also breaking the law and are at risk ofbeing prosecuted.

To dispose of your oil legally and safely, you’ll needto find your local oil bank. The Oil Care Campaign, which is a joint initiativebetween industry, trade, and professional bodies and UK environmentalregulators, provides details of these banks, so you shouldn’t struggle to getthe information you need online.

How can Kwik Fit help?

If you’re not sure whether your car needs new oil, or you don’t fancy the job of changing your oil yourself, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at Kwik Fit. Our oil and filter change packageincludes an oil and filter change, as well as a range of other important car safety checks. This could be ideal if you want to ensure your engine’s running smoothly but you don’t want to arrange a full service.

Contact us to find out more or to book an appointment.

Tags : Tips


Any facts, figures and prices shown in our blog articles are correct at time of publication.

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Tip: Take a photo of your existing tyre sidewall to make it easier to identify your tyre size using the guide below.

How to correctly dispose of used engine oil (8)

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Tyre Width

The first three digits. This displays the width of the tyre in millimetres. A tyre marked 225 will measure 225mm across the tread from sidewall to sidewall.

Aspect Ratio

The fourth and fifth digits of the tyre code that immediately follow the tyre width. The aspect ratio or profile height of the tyre sidewall is expressed as a percentage of the tyre width. So an aspect ratio of 55 for example means that the profile height of the tyre is 55% of its width.

Rim Diameter

The next two digits represent the size of the wheel rim that the tyre can be fitted to. It is also the diameter of the tyre from bead to bead. So a tyre marked 16 will fit on a 16-inch wheel rim.

Speed Rating

The speed rating of a tyre is represented by a letter of the alphabet at the end of the tyre size code and indicates the maximum speed capability of the tyre. Tyres receive a speed rating based on a series of tests which measure the tyres capability to handle a set speed for a prolonged period of time.

Select your tyre speed rating to find out the maximum speed your tyres can maintain.

If you are unsure what speed rating you need, be sure to check your vehicle handbook. Choosing a lower speed rating than that recommended by your vehicle manufacturer could potentially invalidate your insurance.

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