Tom Kerr writing on car maintenance…

One of the surefire ways to extend the life of your vehicle is to change the oil on a regular basis, and one of the best ways to save money is to do it yourself.

But crawling around under a vehicle can be uncomfortable, especially as you get older. And if you’ve ever changed your own oil, you know it’s easy to splash motor oil on your hands, arms, clothing, and even your face.

But there’s an easier, more convenient alternative that’s so tidy you can skip the coveralls and even do an oil change in your tuxedo.

Just use a motor oil extractor pump. Mine’s made by EWK Tools, weighs less than seven pounds, holds nearly seven quarts, and it costs less than $70 on Amazon.

You park on level ground, remove the dipstick, insert the plastic hose, and push it to the bottom of the oil pan. Then, pump the dirty oil into the extractor’s built-in container, where it is securely stored and ready to recycle.

I pump it manually, but you can also hook the unit up to an air compressor. Replace the dipstick, refill the vehicle with new motor oil, and you’re done within 15 minutes.

Some vehicles have an underbody splash guard you have to unbolt to do an oil change, which can be a real pain in the neck, but the extractor relieves you of that aggravation. You can also use this kind of pump to change your transmission fluid.

I’m old school, so I admit that at first I resisted this new-fangled method.

But the auto pros at Edmonds did a test on a Honda to compare how much oil was removed with a pump, versus removing it through the drain plug.

Less than three tablespoons were left behind by the pump extractor.

Tom and Ray Magliozzi, (aka “Click and Clack) who used to host the “Car Talk” radio show, also agreed that an extractor does a good job. They added that it has special benefits, too.

You don’t have to worry about over-tightening the oil pan plug and stripping the threads, which can leave you in a real bind.

And you don’t have to worry about leaving the plug too loose, so that the oil leaks out and you risk a blown engine.

If your oil filter is only accessible from underneath, you’ll still need to go below to change it. But on many newer vehicles you change it from above, by just popping the hood.

And you can change an oil filter without draining the oil pan. Just add back about a cup of oil…or whatever amount the old filter had inside it.

It’s also much less stressful to work under the hood instead of beneath a ton of steel propped-up on ramps or jack stands. I’m always hesitant to engage in a potentially hazardous project unless someone else is around…so using an extractor enables me to feel more independently safe and self-sufficient.

But what I like best is that it eliminates any procrastination that might otherwise tempt you to forego an important oil change due to the hassle or the cost.

Plus, whenever I’m feeling neighborly and want to change someone else’s oil for them, all I have to do is show up with my pump.

Plenty of folks I know will paddle the boat for you while you fish, serve you a home-cooked meal, wash and fold your laundry, serenade you on the fiddle, or slip you a jar of moonshine…as a token of thanks.

P.S. Discover how you can enjoy a more laidback, authentic, independent way of life in Truth & Plenty. Sign up below to have it delivered – free of charge – to your email inbox.

Image: ©iStock.com/Highwaystarz-Photography

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