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Where can I take my used engine oil?

If you want to save some money, you can do some basic car maintenance. Changing your oil is one of the easier tasks, but you’ll need to dispose of the used engine oil.

Can you dispose of used oil for free? Yes, as long as it’s in a leak-proof container, there are plenty of places to take it. But first:

How to change your oil

Take a pan or other container large enough to hold around eight litres of oil. A four-cylinder car is likely to have around five litres and an eight-cylinder car is likely to hold around seven litres. If you have a V10 or V12, you may need more.

Make sure you have already purchased the correct type of replacement oil for your car. This will be listed in your vehicle’s manual, or you can search online if you don’t have the manual.

Close up of car lifted with car jack at auto mechanic workshop.

Jack the front of your car up, then put an axle stand or other suitable support under the car (you don’t want it falling off the jack and onto you while you’re underneath it).

Locate the oil sump’s drain plug. You’ll need a wrench to undo this.

Put the pan under the plug, then undo the plug slowly. It might be a bit stiff. Adjust the plug so that you get the desired flow of oil.

Once it’s finished draining, put the plug back in (it’s important you do this, otherwise when you pour your new oil in, it’ll drain out…you won’t be the first that has made this mistake.

Transfer your old oil to containers that you can seal, e.g. ice-cream containers (it’s a good excuse for buying and eating ice-cream).

Lower your car, open the bonnet and fill the engine with new oil. Your manual will tell you how much oil you need, or you can find it online. For example, if you have a four-cylinder, two-litre VW Golf, you can expect it to have around five litres; fortunately, engine oil is sold in 5-litre containers.

How to dispose of your oil

Different regional councils have different ways and places where you can dispose of oil. You may need to pay a fee for commercial amounts.

Auckland

Wellington

In other places, Supercheap Auto, Repco and a number of other retailers and industrial suppliers will take sealed, leak-proof containers under 10 litres, or contact your local council.

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Darren is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the NZ Motoring Writers' Guild

Posted in Advice
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