So today I did the second “unnecessary” oil change on Blimey – I changed oil and filter at about 1500 miles the “old fashioned” way – and refilled with Mobil One. Now I’m at about 6000 and once again feel compelled to break with the fluid waste saving, service included money saving service interval recommended by BMW… So I have 5 quarts of my newly-found German Castrol and a filter at the ready. And the engine is still warm – but not hot – from an earlier drive. I checked the oil level with the dipstick first – full.

I also have my shiny new Christmas gift – the Griot’s Oil Extractor. I’ve read generally good reviews of this thing – and thought it might be the ticket for neat, easy “in between” oil changes. It comes with the pump extractor and three pieces of semi-rigid tubing – a “main” section that plugs into the extractor, and two interchangeable sections of different diameters for inserting into the dipstick tube. For the MINI, I determined that I needed to use the smaller of the two. So thread it down the dipstick tube. It meets the same resistance that the stock dipstick does on the way down (which is a topic of concern for me…) but with some gentle twisting and tapping it passes that point and goes on in. Takes a little more careful twisting, etc. until it seems to reach the bottom – won’t go any further. I pull it back out to check, and it DOES have oil for a good distance up the bottom of the tube. Cool. I put it back in and hook it up to the “main” tube of the extractor. I give it ten easy pumps and the oil starts flowing. It’s steady, but not fast – I’d estimate it’s pulling out about a quart every minute or two… the unit has rings around it that I later determine are at about 1qt increments – so you can see how much you’re getting.

Meanwhile, I break loose the filter and leave it attached to drain back into the engine. After a minute or two I remove the filter completely, discard the old element, clean out the housing, insert the new element and re-attach the filter assembly and torque to 23 lb-ft.
By now I’m up to about 4 quarts and it starts gurgling a little. I maneuver the tube in and out a bit (like searching for that last bit of Slurpy in the bottom of the cup), but can’t get any deeper. Eventually it’s just sucking air and the unit continues to suck until the vacuum is depleted. So I replace the dipstick and add 4 quarts of German Castrol. Then check with the dipstick. Full. Hmmm…

The extractor has a pour spout, so I pour the old oil back into the quart containers. Probably just a smidgen more than 4 quarts. So this thing left about a pint of oil in the pan. Not the end of the world – especially since the necessity of this change is questionable anyway – and since at 10,500 I’ll have a full drain done. But I wish it had pulled out at least 4.5 quarts of oil…

The upside – this thing is EASY and NEAT. No ramps, jacks, skidplate removal, power steering fan duct removal, dealing with oil plugs, sloshing oil out of the drain pan, etc. I’m curious if I would have gotten more oil with the car on a bit of an incline one way or the other… next time I’ll try that and see if it makes any difference… but I think the tube just isn’t making it to the lowest part of the pan. Maybe because of where the dipstick tube enters the pan? Just speculating…

So I remain a believer in periodic full plug-pulling drains of the oil pan to get any nasties that may be hiding down there. But for “in-between” changes at home, this thing is pretty nice. I’ll use it again.

2 Comments

  1. From the picture, it looks like Griot’s is selling a MityVac extractor. My gut feeling is yes, you should have gotten at least 4.5 quarts out. I’ve been tempted by these extractors myself for my 2006 MCS, but I’m wondering if you considered getting a slightly smaller diameter hose at a supply/hardware store for next time?
    Cheers for the article!

  2. The smaller of the two provided extractor tubes seemed to go in OK – didn’t feel like it was hitting a “constriction” – I’m pretty sure it was in the pan, otherwise it wouldn’t have gotten as much as it did. Probably just didn’t make it to the lowest part of the pan…

    I’ve read posts by others who seemed to get a “full” extraction on the MINI – they pulled the plug afterward and had no more than a few drops of additional oil come out… So I’m scratching my head a bit… Haven’t really gotten in and under the engine bay to diagnose yet…

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