The oil change, it is a rite of passage into the world of mechanics, the first lesson and perhaps the most important and most commonly known automotive maintenance task. Countless everyday people all over the world do their own oil change and appreciate the money-saving result and car bonding aspect of this simple yet essential task.
If you do your own oil change, as we do, you're probably aware that the most annoying aspect of this job is oil spills or at least the risk of spills. Used oil leaves a dark and long enduring stain on any pavement surface. A misaligned drain pan together with a free flowing oil stream can quickly result in a very large spill. And that's without mentioning the smudge marks from getting your hand coated with dirty oil and having it run down your arm.
Spills are almost all but unavoidable when doing an oil change. But in this era of convenience and innovation, many common annoyances such as this one are becoming a thing of the past. Every so often, an ingenious little device comes along that makes things easier and seems absolutely made for do it yourselfers. This device could well be the Fumoto Engine Oil Drain Valve. It is designed to replace the traditional oil drain plug and lets you control the drainage flow of used oil thanks to a patented ball-valve mechanism. We were curious about this device and decided to see for ourselves how it works and what it can do.
No new player
The Fumoto Engine Oil Drain Valve is no new kid on the block. According to its maker Fumoto, this patented Engine Oil Drain Valve has been in existence for over 25 years, with over 10 million units sold. It is also endorsed by many major manufacturers for use on cars, trucks, forklifts, ATVs, boats and RVs, to name only those.
The first thing that you notice about the Fumoto valve is its solid brass construction. It gives the appearance of being well engineered and well built. The Fumoto name and drain valve model number are etched on the side, a guarantee that you're not getting an imitation, of which there are many on the market.
Fumoto's Engine Oil Valves are designed to fit exact drain plug size requirements on hundreds of engines, which is why there are so many F-numbered units to choose from. The fitment corresponding to the engine we're going to use it on is F-106N. The correct valve number to match a specific vehicle can be found on Fumoto's site
Back to what we were saying earlier, we like the fact that this device is made of brass, since this particular metal provides an excellent resistance to rust and works well in temperature extremes, whether exposed to intense heat or cold.
All about the valve
Secondly, the existence of the valve system means you'll no longer need to use a bolt wrench for your oil change, making the whole process one step easier. This will also save time and effort. Installation is easy: you simply have to tighten it with an open-ended wrench the first time and that's it. To be opened, the small valve lever has to be lifted up and to the side using your finger. Opening the valve is done with relative ease however it's not loose enough to accidentally open by itself during a jolt, if you drove over a large pot hole for example. We like that the entire principle of the valve is to allow a controlled, clean, steady flow of the oil in order to avoid spills and this is exactly what it does.
To have an even greater control over the flow and direction of the oil, we suggest choosing a Fumoto device that has a "nipple" extension, such as this one. The nipple is a built in extension over the Fumoto's drain hole, which enables you to connect it to a hose in order to channel the oil flow directly inside the oil drain pan, thereby reducing the risk of spillage to almost nothing. With a hose connected, you can also forego the use of the drain pan altogether, and send the used oil directly into an empty jug, thereby eliminating the extra step of oil transfer and saving you even more time. And when the jug is almost full, no risks of spillage there either, simply shut off the valve, grab another empty jug and resume.
It's for this reason that we strongly recommend opting for the valve design that includes a nipple extension. Nipple-bearing designs have an "N" designation in the model number, as is the case with this one, as opposed to a non-nipple model which would be simply numbered "F-106" for example. The nipple will fit with any 3/8 inch hose. We also suggest opting for a clear hose rather than a non-transparent one, so you can keep a visual on the flowing oil and know when the drainage is complete without having to look at the dirty end of the hose. Once the hose is connected, simply switch the valve open and watch the oil drain out.
Furthermore, if your car's oil pan opening is indented, as is the case with many European cars, you'll need to use an adapter. You can get an optional adapter for the Fumoto Drain Valve, it's essentially a bolt with a washer that you screw in place before putting the valve in. The adapter part is named ADP-; a three-digit alpha code followed by the corresponding drain valve's number. An adapter for the correct part number in this case would be
ADP-106. The adapter comes with a thick blue paper washer, as does the Fumoto itself.
Got a low profile sports car? Read this first
We found that one of the only problems you may encounter with this Fumoto is with regards to undercarriage clearance for some cars. You'll need to check to see how and where the Fumoto valve will be situated on your car's oil pan. Depending on the design of your pan, the Fumoto may protrude from the bottom, and if you have a ground-hugging sportscar, and you happen to run over a bump or object on the road, the valve may get hit and possibly damaged. It's a fact the Fumoto does stick out more than the OEM drain plug. Before ordering a nipple-type Fumoto drain valve, if you have a low sportscar, we strongly advise you to verify to make sure you have adequate clearance underneath your oil pan.
You should also check if the drain opening points straight down, where the risk of collision would be greatest. It would pose less of a problem with a pan configuration where the drain plug points sideways or angles only slightly downward -- and would therefore consist of a lesser risk of accidental contact with anything on the road. Also, the nipple on an N-type Fumoto drain valve adds about 5/8 of an inch to the regular Fumoto drain valve, so if you have a vehicle with very little undercarriage clearance to begin with, it could make a difference. If that's the case, you'd be better off with a non-nipple model.
Caution Off Roaders
If you intend on using the Fumoto on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), riding over brush, twigs or vegetation, this may possibly catch on the lever and accidentally swing it to the open position, which would drain out your engine oil and have devastating consequences on both your vehicle's engine and on the environment. Fortunately, for peace of mind, Fumoto does sell a small inexpensive safety clip that can be attached to the valve to prevent any object that may come into contact with it from accidentally opening it. With this clip in position, it is absolutely impossible to open the valve by accident. Yes, it may be one small extra step to remove it in order to change your oil, but we believe it is well worth the safety precaution, especially for all-terrain vehicles.
Another point which we've heard can be a disadvantage is that the Fumoto may not drain all of the oil in the pan. This would be due to the fact that the valve extends inside the pan. The drain valve threads into the hole in the bottom of the pan, but also extends through the hole, approximately about 3/16 of an inch. So when you open the valve, all but the bottom 3/16 inch of the pan is drained, therefore not all of the oil. Furthermore, any heavy residue (carbon chips, grime) would stay in the pan instead of draining out with the rest of the oil.
Although this can be a disadvantage, we are not overly concerned with it. Even without the Fumoto, if the car is held up at an angle on jack stands or ramps, depending on the inclination of the vehicle and the positioning of the pan opening, some old oil will inevitably remain inside the pan regardless, whether you use a valve or not. That said, reports of owners who have removed the Fumoto valve claim that very little additional oil actually drained out when it was removed.
However, if you're worried that your oil pan may have harmful debris remaining at the bottom, once the bulk of the oil has been drained, and with it, the bulk of the risk of spillage, it's just a small extra step to unscrew and remove the valve and let any remaining oil drip out. This would actually be a beneficial extra step as it would allow you at the same time to wipe clean the oil pan opening from any residue.
Another issue that's been brought forward is the fact that, with the Fumoto in place, the oil takes longer to drain. This is a fact, the debit is slower since the stream is not as thick due to the smaller opening of the Fumoto valve, but overall we find this issue to be minimal. While the oil drains, it's the perfect time to prepare the new oil filter or to inspect the undercarriage to make sure nothing is cracked or damaged. We feel having this extra wait time is easier to deal with than handling the hot drain plug, possibly dropping it in the oil drain pan and having the dirty oil running down your arm.
In the end
Lastly, there's the question of price. At less than $30, the Fumoto will drain your oil but not your wallet. Is a price just shy of $30 worth paying for no spills? In our opinion, yes, and it's not just about preventing spills. If you do your own oil change, whether it's once a year or several times a year, the ease and convenience it brings to the task makes it a small and worthwhile investment. And with this valve, you can leave your bolt wrench and even your oil drain pan aside and be done with your oil change in record time. It is a quality built part with a proven track record and millions of satisfied owners worldwide.
If you're worried about adding up the cost of additional adapters, hoses, or safety clips, we checked it out and thankfully these are all very inexpensive secondary accessories. What we like is that sometimes Amazon offers a bundled price for everything you need. Speaking of Amazon, it also has this device competitively priced and shipping is often free. Check it out at the link below. You can also check out our related articles on how to do your own oil change and on what kind of motor oil to choose.