Any tips for removing horizontally mounted oil filters without creating a mess?

filters, oil changes, DIY
Dear Tom and Ray:

I am the proud owner of two vehicles with horizontally mounted filters. Both of them are Fords: a 1988 big Bronco and a 1993 Escort wagon. Do you have any tips for removing these oil filters without creating a mess? Letting the engine drain a long time before removing the filter helps some, but who can wait 24 hours for the oil to drain? I've tried pre-wrapping the filter with a plastic bag or newspaper, I've tried hanging funnels, and most recently, I intentionally punctured the filter to allow it to drain into a cup before removing it. My results: a worse mess!

This never happened on my previous cars whose filters hung down at a 45-degree angle. Do you know the answer to changing these filters without ending up with oil all over me? -- Philip

TOM: Sure. The answer is your local gas station, or Quickie Lube, Phillip. Research clearly shows that if you stand in the waiting room, the mess -- at least from your point of view -- is reduced significantly.

RAY: There is no good answer, Phillip. We make a mess when we change these types of filters, too. We use a huge drain bucket that's about 21/2 feet in diameter. And that catches most of it.

TOM: And you can buy a drain bucket like that yourself at your local auto parts store. It's actually a transmission oil drain bucket, and it's designed to catch oil dripping from a large transmission oil pan.

RAY: But even that won't get all of it, Phillip. Some of the oil will still run down the side of the engine and keep dripping long after you've cleaned up and gone in for dinner.

TOM: So I guess the only way to eliminate 100 percent of the mess is to have it done by somebody else. Or do what I do. I use the transmission fluid drain bucket, and I do all my work in my brother's driveway.
Tags (Browse All)
filters, oil changes, DIY

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login / Signup
Support for Car Talk is provided by:

Donate Your Car,
Support Your NPR Station

...and get a tax break!

Get Started

Find a Mechanic

Promo tile

Rocket Fuel