Top 8 Best Oil Drain Pans
By | Last updated: May 19, 2022

If you followed our advice about socket sets and garage door openers, you’re well on your way to dabbling in a bit of automotive DIY. A good place to start? The simple oil change. Since oil is the lifeblood of your car, it’s an excellent idea to understand why it’s important to change it regularly.

Ah, who are we kidding? You lot know all of this better than the rust pattern on the floors of your hoopties. If there’s one thing that ties this TTAC community together, it’s our incessant love of horrible old rotboxes and our penchant for working on them.

Now pick up one of these drain pans and stop draining oil into a Maxwell House coffee can, okay?

1. Editor's Choice: Capri Tools Portable Oil Drain Pan

A drain pan’s a drain pan, right? On occasion, yes – explaining why we’re leading with one of the highest-rated pans on Amazon. A full 98 percent of the 650+ respondents gave this thing 4 or 5 stars, citing its solid build quality and predictable action of the spout when disposing of old oil. Several customers also claim the tub’s design helps prevent splatter, something your author would love to see in action. Cleaning up drops caused by the initial rush of oil is very annoying.

Its 4.5-gallon capacity should be more than enough for the vast majority of consumer-grade vehicles; in fact, with the average vehicle holding between 6 to 8 quarts of oil, there’s enough room in this thing for the remnants of two oil changes, perfect for when you planned to recycle the first lot but completely blanked until three months later when it’s time for another service.

Pros/High capacity, solid construction
Cons/Choosing between black and green
Bottom Line/Way better than that coffee can we mentioned

2. Lumax 15 Quart Drainmaster

Here’s a good option that keeps the oil contained in a sealed environment until you can bring it to the depot for disposal or recycling. The red circle spins off like a top to reveal a mash-type grid underneath through which the old oil drains into the container. This has the added bonus of preventing your car’s drain plug from getting lost in the muck.

This should mean there’s little or no mess to clean up topside. A few customers left bad reviews because the used oil leaked out of the 8-inch red lid area, making a mess. It isn’t entirely clear if this is a design issue or, um, user error. In any event, make sure the red cap is screwed on tightly before storing it in an upright position

Pros/Wide mouth, mesh keeps drain plug out of the oil
Cons/Tighten that cap
Bottom Line/Seems great when used correctly

3. OEM Tools Low Profile Oil Drain Pan

One of our editors – kudos if you can guess which one – owns a tattered Mazda Miata that sits a lot closer to terra firma than it did after rolling out of the factory in Hiroshima. You can guess amongst yourselves if this is a result of a lowering kit or years of neglect.

This oil drain pan would be the perfect selection, then, with dimensions sized just right for sliding under low vehicles. In fact, it is less than three inches high. Naturally, this does limit oil capacity so be sure you’ve got a couple of these things on hand if your car’s thirst outquenches that of this pan.

Pros/Great for low cars or any bike
Cons/Very small capacity
Bottom Line/Get two if you're using this for a car

4. JohnDow Industries Portable Oil Drain

For the fortunate few working on their rides underneath a lift, one of these extend-a-mix drain pans might be just the ticket to a quick and painless oil change. Funneling all the oil down a giraffe-like neck into a solid round base, these units – or ones like them – are found in service bays across America.

This particular example has a height adjustment between 48 and 67 inches, so measure twice before hitting the order button to make sure that’s sufficient reach. The 8-gallon capacity tank makes a great counterweight as it is filling up and is translucent, allowing for easy viewing of oil level.

Pros/Look like the, er, pros
Cons/Not the cheapest thing on this list
Bottom Line/Very handy for those with a lift

5. ATD Tools Black Drain Pan

This one’s markedly similar to the unit from Capri that kicked off our list. Round and deep with a spout and some handles, its anti-splash lip should contain fluid splatter during the initial pour and while moving the thing around.

Over 1,200 real-world customers have given this pan good marks, praising its ability to catch spills before they happen and the overall sturdiness. Hilariously, some people have had a bit of fun with their reviews, tossing in a good dose of flippant humor (which is always in ample supply at TTAC).

 

Pros/Affordable and well-reviewed
Cons/Cap that spout to avoid drips
Bottom Line/These customers are our kinda people

6. Lumax Plastic Oil Drain Pan

Constructed of tough polyethylene material, the seller asserts this oil pan is impervious to oil and gasoline which makes it perfect for a range of jobs. Actually, most of the pans on this list hold up to both of those fluids but your author simply enjoys it when someone uses the word ‘impervious’.

A wire loop handle is supposed to double as a lifting aid and tool for pushing this pan underneath the car. I’m not sure about that, given its scanty diameter. Most people in the review section had a similar view and felt the molded-in handles worked just fine. This is also a strong boi, with customers talking about its lack of flex when full and posting pictures of themselves actually standing on the thing.

Pros/Holds 5 gallons
Cons/Weird metal handle
Bottom Line/Solid (literally) option for a good price

7. ATD Tools Heavy Duty Drain Tub

With a lip on it like a swimming pool diving board or spoilt child’s bottom lip (take your choice), it should be a relatively easy task to avoid spills during the first gush of oil after removing the drain plug – even for those of us with, ahem, poor aim.

Dimensions are 33 inches long, 22 inches wide, and 8 inches deep. This makes for about 30 quarts of capacity which will be ample for anyone this side of a tractor-trailer shop. Do keep in mind that the volume of liquid will likely be quite heavy, so either plan ahead or actually empty the thing between oil changes, ya lazy bum.

Pros/Enormous volume, positive reviews
Cons/Could be a few spills if you're not careful
Bottom Line/Empty it frequently

8. Matrix Concepts Oil Drain Container

We’re including this one at the end of our list because your author cannot fathom an oil drain container that’s white in color. A fairly flat drain surface looks like it would cause terrible splatters when the initial hit of oil drains out of an engine but reviews make little mention of such an issue.

What is recommended by buyers is that every owner makes copious use of the unit’s vent cap, lest the quantity of used oil flowing out of an engine overwhelm the pan’s ability to capture it. That would be quite the mess, indeed.

Pros/Decent price, big handle for transport
Cons/Odd color choice
Bottom Line/Unique and seemingly proud of it

FAQs

What can I use for oil drain pan?

It is highly recommended that you use an oil drain pan that has been specifically designed for the purpose, and make sure that you get one manufactured by a reputed brand. However, if you are an occasional DIY person and know that you won’t need the pan after one or two uses, instead of investing your money in a dedicated container, you can use the following items that are almost equally good for the purpose:

  • A simple sufficiently spacious box wrapped with at least 2 layers of plastic bags to avoid any harm to the skin. Although this is a homely method and the cheapest among all workarounds, the pan remains prone to spillage. Therefore, unless extremely urgent and necessary, you may want to avoid this solution
  • A generic oil container with a screen and a wide screw-oriented lid to cover the equal-sized opening. The screen in such a container is a transparent material that lets you see through and helps you check the quantity of the fluid that is inside. Although the openings of these types of containers are wide enough, you cannot avoid a few drops of spills, at least not that easily
  • An old large pan with a triangular or circular opening. Because such pans usually have the widest mouths, the chances of oil getting spilled during the draining process are minimal. To be on the safer side, you can even place a large piece of paper, typically a newspaper, underneath the pan so that it can soak the accidental spills. However, when using this method, before disposing of the fluid, it must be transferred to a safe and closed container to ensure safety

How much oil does an oil drain pan hold?

Oil drain pans come in different capacities, and you should get one according to the quantity your vehicle needs. While some can hold up to 6 quarts (approximately 5.68 lt.) there are others with the capacity of accommodating around 16.9 quarts (approximately 16 lt.).

With that said, it would be a good idea to check the user’s manual of your vehicle for the exact amount of oil it needs, and get a drain pan accordingly. If you’re still not sure, you can always consult a professional technician from an authorized service station for an accurate figure.

How often should you change your oil pan drain plug?

Generally speaking, oil pan drain plugs are made of good material and last forever as long as they are removed and retightened correctly. Many people have claimed that they have never replaced their pan drain plug throughout the period they have used the car. The only thing that kept the plug safe was that it was tightened correctly.

Not to brag, but one of the people also said that it was around 35 years ago when they changed their oil and filter on their own, and after that it was always done during routine services done by the authorized service station. During all those years, they haven’t changed the plug whatsoever.

(Source: https://homex.com/ask/how-often-should-you-replace-oil-drain-plug)

Are all oil pan drain plugs the same?

When talking about the size, no, not all oil pan drain plugs are of the same dimension. However, there are a few sizes that are common amongst most vehicles.

As for the form factor, they are engineered keeping in mind the vehicle they will be used in. This is because while some vehicles don’t have a reinforced drain plug hole, there are some that do.

With that said, a conclusive answer to the question is that not all oil pan drain plugs are of the same shape and size, and they are tailored specifically for almost every vehicle model to serve the purpose well enough.


From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Rental Reviews, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Main Photo Credit: romarti/Shutterstock.com. Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

29 Comments on “Best Oil Drain Pans: Greasy Situation...”


  • avatar
    R Henry

    I own #5 (or its clone). I like it, but as with all high capacity pans, it is tall. You will likely NOT be able to use it unless your sedan is raised (or if you have a high ground clearance vehicle).

    I also own a #8 clone, in black, which was given to me by my local municipality to encourage use of their hazardous waste disposal service. You will need to wipe off the pan’s oil film before standing it up, otherwise you will end up with a puddle under it. Overall, I like it, but I would prefer to have a two or three because it really only holds about 2 gallons–enough for one full oil change only…and I prefer to dispose of my waste oil only once a year, and with three cars, it just doesn’t hold enough.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I’ve got #5 too, OK two as I’ve got one in black for oil and one in green for coolant. I’ve also got a black version of #8 and haven’t used it in years because of the exact reason you noted you have to wipe it down to stand it up.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-X

      I had #8 in black. I Hated it. Like you said: you have to wipe the dumb thing before you stand it up, EVERYTIME. Think of all that wiped oil not being recycled, and the oily rags in landfills. And it didn’t seem to hold much, and there was no good way for it to stand on end and drain into a container for recycling, like any other pan, and because the drain surface is shallow, it splashes, and… and …

      This drain pan isn’t in the Top 50 of best drain pans, let alone at #8.

      • 0 avatar
        SPPPP

        I have the #8 pan from Matrix, in white, exactly as shown. I like it a lot. It does 2 things really well.

        – It is low-profile and fits under some cars without any jacking. Very convenient.

        – The hole in the side is high up on the body when stood vertical. And it seals fairly securely. This means it is unlikely to spill while you are transporting the used oil to the local parts store for recycling. (Contrast this to the #2 pan, with a huge hole in the side, that NEVER seals properly.)

        It’s true that you have to wipe down the pan before standing it up, but that’s pretty common. And it doesn’t take mountains of oily rags. It takes one or two paper towels. Wipe most of the oil into the hole. Then mop up the residue.

        The only true downsides are the lack of capacity and the potential to have oil splashing over the side. But again, those are directly due to its low-profile nature. So I can’t complain too much.

  • avatar
    RHD

    Best Oil Drain Pans AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.

    Writing an article by comparing buyer reviews on a site where your blog will get a spiff from each sale isn’t exactly Consumer Reports or a Motor Trend Camparo.

    One other nit to pick – the average car holds 6 to 8 quarts of oil?!
    Old air-cooled VWs took three, most 4-bangers take 4 quarts, and V8s tend to
    take about 5 quarts. I haven’t owned any vehicle that took 8 quarts for an oil change, although a few of them probably exist.

    A hint for the beginners: save your old antifreeze and gallon oil jugs to use as used oil containers for the trip to the toxic waste disposal site.

    On a lighter note, there is an interesting array of designs available. All of them beat using a plastic dish tub, and most of them are better than the Kragen special that I picked up a couple of decades ago. Time to click on the Amazon link…

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      “One other nit to pick – the average car holds 6 to 8 quarts of oil?!
      Old air-cooled VWs took three, most 4-bangers take 4 quarts, and V8s tend to
      take about 5 quarts. I haven’t owned any vehicle that took 8 quarts for an oil change, although a few of them probably exist.”

      Your numbers are quite a bit out of date. I’d be surprised if a single new vehicle on sale today took less than 5 quarts. Maybe some naturally aspirated 4 bangers in economy cars still take 4 or 4.5?

      My 1 liter 3 cylinder Fiesta takes 5.

      The V6 in my wife’s van takes 6.

      The V8 in my truck takes 7.

      The LS3 V8 in my Holden takes 8.

      The V10 in the Viper takes 11.

    • 0 avatar
      FerrariLaFerrariFace

      This is one of the ways TTAC makes money. That money comes from Amazon presumably, so the fact that they all link there is understandable. It’s either this or a bunch of god-awful banner ads and “One Weird Trick…” and “You wouldn’t believe what [celebrity] looks like now!” clickbait crap splashed all over the page.

      Frankly, I’m perfectly ok with this. I’ve even found some useful products thanks to these ads/articles that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise.

    • 0 avatar
      Ko1

      “One other nit to pick – the average car holds 6 to 8 quarts of oil?!”

      Yes. Oil capacity has crept up over the years, I believe, because the oil is being asked to do more in higher stressed engines over longer (oil life monitor) drain intervals. A lot of the new turbo four bangers take 5.5 to 6 liters. Most trucks and SUV’s take around 6.5 to 7.5 liters and I can point to the Ford 5.0 V8 as a gas engine that takes about 8.5 liters. HD Diesels can range from 9.5 liters in a 6.6 Duramax to 12 liters in a Ford 6.7 Powerstroke.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    That’s a big NOPE Ghostrider. Anything involving fluid exchanges gets taken to a shop. Let them get splashed and deal with proper disposal. It was bad enough when I changed the oil in my lawnmower once a year and perpetually had a jug of used oil in the garage. Outsourcing my lawn care was one of the better things I’ve done, and outsourcing oil changes (which are cheap) is smart too.

    • 0 avatar
      Ko1

      “Anything involving fluid exchanges gets taken to a shop. Let them get splashed and deal with proper disposal.”

      Working in the industry, I can see why a lot of people are taking this approach as opposed to DIY. Many modern vehicles have some kind of bottom cover(s) to remove before you can even access the plug and filter and a lot are designed so they spill oil all over other components unless you apply some kind of extra plastic sheeting to guard against it which only creates more environmental waste. The other solution is to make a mess and then hose it down with degreaser or brake clean afterward which is, again, an environmental hazard. At least with our shop, everything is contained within the pit area and the vehicle is fully cleaned before it goes back outside.

      • 0 avatar
        SaulTigh

        That’s a good point. I had to replace the starter in my ’95 Sable last year and a little Youtube research shows it to be mounted just below the oil filter. You’re supposed to cover the starter with a plastic bag before changing the filter, but most people don’t. When I saw the new starter in there, I realized just how grimed up with oil the old one was. Still, it lasted a long time (albeit in a car with only 72,000 miles on the clock).

    • 0 avatar
      Yankee

      Agree with your thinking, but make sure you don’t take it to a shop that specializes in oil changes (Jiffy Lube, Valvoline, etc.). I did three engines from those places last year. Two left the plug loose, one left the filter loose. Quick oil change places and corporate-owned (non-franchise) chain stores (Monroe, Meineke, Mr. Tire, NTB, etc.) employ entry-level mechanics because they don’t pay. Once young mechanics get even passably good they get out quick. When a place has want ads that say “mechanics wanted, no experience necessary,” that’s not where you want to take your car.

      • 0 avatar
        SaulTigh

        I am guilty of having used Walmart in the distant past for oil changes(and still happily buy tires there) but I have used a local shop with an excellent reputation for maintenance and repair for many years with good results. It’s a good sized, 12-bay store and it’s always the same people when you go in. You find a place like that, you hang on to it.

    • 0 avatar

      Maybe I’m cheap but I still don’t like taking my car places for oil changes. Around me with a coupon your talking 40-50 bucks 65 without (other then occasional 19.99 specials at some places). I can order oil and filters online for less then 20-25 bucks for my cars (decent oil to not cheapest I can find.) Free shipping. I do it in my driveway in less time then it takes to drive to the oil change place (I can do both cars with no ramps or jacks even my 300M works with a low clearance oilpan). So I’m saving time and money. It used to be even more convenient when my town picked up waste oil for free at the curb every week but that stopped a couple years ago. So now I just fill some screw top milk jugs and drop em at the transfer station when I make dump runs a couple times a year (no charge just drop the whole containers in a basket at the transfer station) .

      • 0 avatar
        SPPPP

        For me, it’s a toss-up, and it might go either way.

        In favor of having someone do it:
        – The mess is theirs to deal with, not mine.
        – No worries about hot, rainy, or cold weather.
        – I might have the car in the shop for inspection or something anyway.
        – I don’t get sore or sweaty.

        In favor of me doing it:
        – Cost. If I ask for the correct oil for my car, the price is between $60 and $120 at a shop. I can do the change for between $30 and $60. So $30 to $60 saved is nothing to sneeze at.
        – No upsell. My tolerance for upsell is seriously minimal. (Though based on the number of times I have gone to the parts store for one thing, and left with some other fluid or doo-dad in addition, I may have a blind spot here.)
        – Peace of mind. I don’t round off drain plugs or leave filter o-rings on the engine block, or leave parts untightened, or forget to put oil in. I don’t crack trim panels (and if I do, at least I know about it).
        – Lets me look for other problems while under there.
        – Keeps wrenching skills a little bit sharper.
        – Exercise.

  • avatar
    TR4

    I have used a metal pan similar to this for over 40 years:

    https://www.homedepot.com/pep/Behrens-3-Gal-Galvanized-Steel-Utility-Pan-2168X/206638126?cm_mmc=Shopping-B-F_Brand-G-Multi-NA-Multi-NA-Feed-PLA-NA-NA-Catchall_PLA-71700000014585962-58700001236285396-92700052972857576&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI08iN3uTy6wIVSvSzCh39NAYTEAQYBSABEgIgF_D_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds&locale=en-US&mtc=Shopping-B-F_Brand-G-Multi-NA-Multi-NA-Feed-PLA-NA-NA-Catchall_PLA&source=shoppingads

    Plastic pans are liable to get brittle and crack after 10 years or so.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I used to use a metal pan but bought #5 ~30 years ago and it is still going strong with no signs of brittleness or cracks. The fact that it always has at least a film of oil on it probably doesn’t hurt.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    We have a smaller version of #2 be I find I am doing less oil changes at home when the dealer will do it for under $20 and in less than 30 minutes.

  • avatar
    redgolf

    Well, I have reached the stage in my life where I do not do my own oil changes anymore! The dealer services my new vehicle, sometimes for free, but when I have to pay it’s still a bargain. No more driving the car up on ramps and risking fall offs or sore back/hips/shoulders! I do mow my own yard though and other safe repairs, on a sit down mower – hahahahaha!

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    Do all of these things come with some sort of lid for transportation to a recycling center besides the second in the list? I certainly wouldn’t want an open container of oil bouncing around in a pickup bed, much less the back of a minivan/xUV, or in the trunk of a car!

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    Have the larger version of #8. Lid broke when it was accidentally dropped a foot (while empty). They sent a new one out after calling the store I bought it from (Vivid Racing, IIRC).

    Holds enough to do our FCA minivan – 5.9 quarts, IIRC. My Stinger is like 6.x as well. mk7 gti also takes 6 quarts or liters, not sure which (have had dealer do it during CPO years), which could be 6.x quarts.

    So far, it’s done well. Flat enough to fit under things, large enough to hold all the oil, and then pour into the county-approved recycling jugs.

    Would buy again.

  • avatar
    Old_WRX

    I have an old one that is more or less like #8 except mine is round with the hole for the oil right in the center. A few times I have forgotten to open the vent and it will overflow. Also, I have to be very careful how I set mine down. The plug for the hole the oil goes in was lost years ago, so that hole is always open. Set it down to hard and it spurts oil — a couple times it got me in my face, yuck. But, that wasn’t as bad as the time I tripped carrying the bucket from a bedside commode and it got me in the face…

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I have a Rubbermaid 12-Quart drain pan, that I bought over 30 years ago. It’s like 18 inches in diameter, the entire top screws on and off, it has a sealed spout with cap, and a peg molded in near the edge, so you can put the used filter on it, through the center hole, to let the filter drain.

    Like this one, but with a red lid:

    https://forums.quattroworld.com/s4s6/msgs/303170.phtml

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    One of the best purchases I ever made was a 25″ x 36″ galvanized steel drip tray (says “Blitz” on it). Step one of any oil change is to slide this tray under the vehicle. Step last is to wipe any remaining oil off the drip tray.

    I prefer doing my own oil changes (5 vehicles) because I use synthetic oil, I can pick my own filter, it’s a good ‘check-in’ with the vehicle, and it is more convenient (if you ‘batch’ more than one vehicle together and haven’t run out of nitrile gloves).

    *ALWAYS* be sure you get the old oil filter *gasket* off the engine along with the old oil filter. (If you double-gasket the new filter on your dad’s car it will pump the new oil out onto the parking lot on his lunch break, he will have to take it to a quick-change place, and he will not be happy with you. Ask teenage-me how I know.)

    I like to leave the car on the ground if I can for an oil change, so a relatively low-profile drain pan can be handy. A drain pan with a spout is useful for pouring the old oil into one of the old 5-quart Mobil 1 containers labeled ‘USED’ (until it goes to the auto parts place – riding in a cardboard box lined with newspaper). This entire operation takes place on the huge drip tray, because there *will* be drips and spills (but not on my driveway). The rattiest shop towel usually volunteers to perform its last duty and ride away with the used filter in the trash.

    [If the oil filter doesn’t easily drop out of the vehicle in your hand without making contact with other vehicle components, you bought the wrong car.]

    If your Toyotas use the cartridge-style oil filters (groan), stop cussing and get yourself the right tool (example Motivx Tools MX2320) to change them.

  • avatar
    DungBeetle62

    I’ve long been a fan of those in the style of #2. I have someplace to put the dead oil until an opportunity to recycle comes up. The functional problem with my current unit being the oil arcs out of the drain a bit further than the ‘side hole’s circumference and even then if it catches the plastic grating there’s a bit of a splatter. So I need the “cookie sheet” too.

    Then there’s the matter of where those sadistic jokers at Mazda (or maybe Ford) put the oil filter on the NC Miata. Either far enough under the front bumper only your shoes are visible, or approaching from behind the left front wheel where you’d really rather have your jack stand, you unscrew it, come down about ¾”, clear the crossmember, and only then do you have the opening to remove it and — if lucky– rotate it to drain into the pan. All while this is happening, oil’s drooling out of where you removed it from and dribbling over that crossmember onto… you.

    Lose your grip too soon, and you’re writing off your shirt and getting out the kitty litter and pressure washer.

  • avatar

    That picture at the top (not in the list) looks just like my Wedco pan . It wasn’t what I wanted when I bought it, but 15-20 years later it still works great and Ive come to like it.

  • avatar
    Jim52

    Hey, where is the review of the EXACT one in the intro photo–that is the one I want

  • avatar

    Had one like the #2 choice, but it was a splashy mess to deal with. Read about the #1 choice and found it was at a price that worked for me so I purchased one. I like everything about it. It easily holds the 6 quarts for my car, pours nicely for the recycling end of things, no splashes when draining and looks like it will hold up for many years. #5 looks like it would work in a similar fashion, the only difference being a bit larger pour spout.

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