Home Service Oil Company
Home Service Oil Company

How to Correctly Dispose of Vehicle Fluids

April 27, 2021

All vehicles rely on several variations of fluids to be able to operate efficiently. What happens, however, when it’s time to change them on your own? The last thing you want to do is pour a potentially flammable or toxic fluid down the drain. It’s important to know exactly what to do with old oil and coolant, along with used transmission and brake fluid. Continue reading to learn more about how to correctly dispose of vehicle fluids.

Why Can’t I Pour Them Down the Drain?

In case you missed the part on how vehicle fluids are potentially toxic and flammable, please see above. Depending on where you live, it may even be against regulations to dump hazardous waste that is dangerous to the general public and surrounding environment. This is especially true if you’re thinking about pouring them down a storm drain. These typically lead to streams where fish live and animals drink. There’s also a chance that the fluid you are changing out can be recycled for another use.

Keep Fluids Separate

While it seems easier to just have one large container for the fluids that come from your vehicle, it’s not a safe method. Chemicals make up a majority of each one and the chemical reaction that may occur from mixing them can be violent and quick. Avoid one from ever occurring by collecting and storing all of the fluids separately. Don’t forget to seal them tight with a lid so that they don’t spill. Removing motor oil stains, for example, is not a fun task!

Proper Disposal Methods

Over time, vehicle fluids can become contaminated and even more hazardous than before. It’s hard to tell if this has happened unless you’re a mechanic, so try taking them to a local auto shop and see if they’ll accept the fluids for recycling. If not, cities like St. Louis have hazardous waste collection facilities with drop-off sites. You may not have access to a vehicle, especially when you’re fixing one up. Since it’s not a good idea to transport chemicals on public transportation or via a rideshare service, call ahead to see if the auto shops or collection facilities will pick them up for you.

Tell Me More About Changing Engine Oil

When you need to change your oil, place an oil drip pan underneath your vehicle to make sure all of the fluid is properly collected. It should be able to hold up to two gallons of oil. The best way to avoid spills when pouring the new oil into the engine is to use a funnel. It will also come in handy later when you pour the used oil back into the bottle you just emptied. If you need to purchase oil or an oil drip pan, ask that location if they will accept your used oil when you’re finished with it.

Why is Coolant Dangerous?

Coolant, also known as antifreeze, is a highly poisonous fluid that can cause death if ingested by people, pets, or wildlife. A few chemicals that are used in coolant are ethylene and propylene glycols. These give it a sweet taste that attracts animals and potentially children. If you ever have a leak or spill, it’s important to clean coolant off of the ground immediately. If you have to drain your coolant, make sure to have a separate drip pan on hand that can also hold up to two gallons. This way, you don’t accidentally mix it with used oil and it can then be taken in for recycling.

Are Transmission and Brake Fluid Recyclable, Too?

Yes, but remember to collect the two separately. Again, you can call ahead to make sure your local auto shop will accept them. Transmission fluid comes in three types – automatic, manual, and synthetic. All of them can also be harmful to people, animals, and the environment. Be prepared to have a large enough container when it’s ready to be changed. Transmissions can hold around three gallons of fluid. As for brake fluid, it’s not only poisonous, but also flammable. A smaller container that can hold 16 ounces will work, but recycling or hazardous waste facilities may require a specific container – not just any old gas can. They should be able to provide you with whatever they need.

Trust the Pros

Oil is in our name. Trust in Home Service Oil to provide you with a wide variety of fluids for vehicles and off-road equipment, ranging from hydraulic fluid to antifreeze. We also offer VP Racing fuels and oils. Contact us online or at 1-800-467-5044 for more information.