The best ways to recycle motor oil, and why you should

Advance Auto PartsAccording to the American Petroleum Institute and quoted by the Environmental Protection Agency (AAP), “Recycling just 2 gallons of used oil can generate enough electricity to run the average household for almost 24 hours.”

This recycled oil can be, according to the EPA:

  • Redefined into lubricants
  • Processed into fuel oils
  • Used as raw materials for the refining and petrochemical industries
  • Used as scrap feed for steel producers

If you don’t recycle, the oil could end up clogging up sewers and storm drains, taking up unnecessary space in landfills, or seeping into your own back yard. Improperly disposed of motor oil can contaminate soil, groundwater and drinking water. And, in many places, improper disposal is a criminal offense.

Now that the case for recycling has been made clear, what are the best ways to recycle your used motor oil?

How to recycle motor oil

First, change your oil. Here is a video by Advance Auto Parts that shows you how. Plus, the American Petroleum Institute has a fantastic website that explains oil change steps with recycling in mind.

Basically, though, you remove the drain plug beneath your car and then catch the draining oil into a pan that’s strong and big enough to hold it. After your oil has completely drained out, replace the oil filter and re-secure the cap. Then add your new oil.

Once your oil change is complete, take the old oil and pour it into a container that is secure enough to prevent any leaks. It’s important when recycling motor oil to use a container that you won’t mind getting ruined, knowing that it can likely be reused for other oil changes but not much else.

Finally, bring your old oil to a service station, repair facility or quick lube. You can also call your city official to find other places and ways to recycle in your town. And, really, that’s how to recycle motor oil.

The benefits of recycling motor oil

The only downside to recycling motor oils is the time it takes to change your oil at home. However, everything else is a bonus for you and the environment. Benefits of learning how to recycle motor oil properly include keeping chemicals out of natural water supplies like rivers, streams and lakes. It also prevents contamination of local ground water supplies, which equals cleaner drinking water. Taking the time to recycle motor oil also saves energy and is the first step in a process to creating a lubrication oil to produce cost-effective and environmentally friendly power.

Your recycled oil goes into furnaces to heat homes and businesses or to power plants that provide electricity for all. It can also be used for marine fuels and even be “re-born” into new motor oil. Re-refined motor oils are just as safe and effective for your car’s engine as fresh oil, and meets all of the same API specifications.

Editor’s note: Bring your used motor oil to an Advance Auto Parts store for free recycling. (Most locations; see your local Advance store for details.)


  1. O.D.Hunter says:

    Today I took 2 jugs of used oil into the local Advance Auto store for recycling as I have done for several years. I was told by the counterman that I would have to provide them my personal info before I could leave. Name, address, type of oil, amount. When I asked when this started, he told me it had always been that way, not true! When I asked him why, his answer amounted to no answer at all.
    My question is this — when did this practice start & what is the reason the information is collected? The quality of the corporate response could determine if I ever spend another dime with Advance Auto … they are not the only source in town and their prices are not the lowest.

  2. Fred Johnson says:

    All auto parts stores that I have visited in the Houston, Texas area do have a clipboard that is supposed to be filled out by everyone that brings in oil to be recycled. I’ve seen it since at least the late 1990s.

    However, this policy is usually not mentioned or enforced by auto parts store employees. Probably due to the employees being too busy helping other customers.

  3. Stephen Roysdon says:

    Are cooking oils also recycled at these locations? Ie. peanut oil

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