How to Dispose of Used Engine Oil

How to Dispose of Used Engine Oil

17th Oct 2017

Engine oil plays a key role in the function of combustion engines. It lubricates the internal components, wicks heat away from the engine, and collects debris. For these reasons, oil is considered the "life blood" of an engine.

Over time, however, engine oil loses its ability to perform these tasks, which is why most automakers recommend changing it every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. While you can always take your car to a machine for an oil change, another option is to change it yourself. Changing engine oil is actually easier than it sounds, requiring little more than draining the existing oil and filling it with new oil. But if you're planning to change your own engine oil, you'll need to dispose of the old oil.

Don't Throw It Away!

Because it contains toxic chemicals as well as heavy metals, most states and municipalities prohibit individuals from disposing of used engine oil in the trash. In Utah, for instance, disposing of engine oil in the trash carries a maximum fine of up to $10,000. Other states have similar penalties, while some even carry a risk of jail time. The bottom line is that you need to choose an appropriate disposal method for your engine oil.

Auto Parts Stores

One of the easiest ways to dispose of used engine oil is to take it to a local auto parts store. Most big-name auto parts stores will gladly accept your used engine oil, assuming it's not contaminated with other oils or liquids. Place the used oil into a secure storage container (e.g. milk jug or 2-liter soda bottle) and ask the shop to recycle it. 

Recycling programs such as this are good for the environment, and they also offer free traffic and advertising for the respective shop. With that said, you should still call the shop beforehand to ensure they have a recycling program for engine oil.

Local Hazardous Waste Center

If you can't find an auto parts store that accepts used engine oil, try contacting your local hazardous waste disposal center. Most cities and counties have centers specifically for the disposal of hazardous waste, including engine oil. Depending on the specific center and its location, it may accept your used engine oil free of charge. Others, however, may charge a small fee for disposal.

Trash Service

Finally, consider contacting your local trash service to see if they offer engine oil disposal services. Some trash services have add-on collection services for engine oil. They'll drop off a kit with empty bottles, which you can fill with your used engine oil and leave by the curb for pick up.