Engine Oil Won’t Drain? Troubleshooting Guide

Engine Oil Won’t Drain Troubleshooting Guide

Are you encountering issues with draining engine oil? Well, you’re not alone. There are several causes for the drainage problem of engine oil.

Follow this extensive guide to learn about all potential issues and their fixes.

Read on to learn more about the correct draining process of engine oil to fix it. 

Here’s what we’ll cover:

How to Drain Engine Oil?

First, make sure you’re draining the engine oil correctly. 

  • Jack up the vehicle: Jack up the car and place it on the jack stands. You can now access the oil drain plug underneath the car.
Jack up the vehicle.
Image source: iStock
  • Place oil drain pan: Place the oil drain pan underneath the detain plug to collect the drained oil.
  • Unplug the drain plug: Locate the oil drain plug and remove it with the suitable wrench or socket. Be careful not to strip the threads on the plug.
Engine oil won't drain — Unplug the drain plug.
Image source: iStock
  • Loosen the oil filter and let the oil drain: Ensure the used oil drains out into an oil catch pan until it slows down. Now dispose of the used oil at an approved recycling center.
  • Put the filter back on and the drain plug: As the oil flow slows down, replace the drain plug and tighten it. Lower the car off of the jack stands.

If this doesn’t drain the engine oil, there’s a blockage. 

Possible Reasons + Fixes for Engine Oil Not Draining

Let’s discuss the various reasons and their subsequent fixes. 

Sludge Formation 

Oil sludge is a gel mixture of hydrocarbons, water, and solids. Its formation is due to the clumping or hardening of oil. From improper storage to the wrong type of oil, sludge formation can be due to multiple factors.  

Let’s begin with the common one, the engine oil. The type of oils affects the sludge formation. Similarly, if you have an old car engine, it is most likely to have deposits and buildups that form sludge. 

As a result, your engine oil won’t drain, leading to engine problems. 

Engine oil won't drain — sludge formation.
Image source: European Auto Tech

How to Fix 

Using a fuel additive, premium kerosene, or high-quality motor oil can prevent sludge formation. To fix existing sludge, you must flush the old oil and replace it with a fresh one.

Gelatinous Engine Oil

Oil sometimes turns into solid, dark brown, gelatinous compounds. It happens when water or coolant mixes with the oil. Another reason for gelatinous engine oil is contamination. 

Cold temperature also affects your engine by solidifying the oil, which leads to oil draining problems.

How to Fix

  • Replace your old engine oil with a recommended one. 
  • Your vehicle engine needs rigorous cleaning in case of jelly oil. Check if the issue persists. 

Oil Change Intervals 

If you don’t change your vehicle’s engine oil for a long time, the formation of sludge or dirt accumulation is inevitable. It affects engines by decreasing performance and increasing wear. In the worst cases, your engine oil won’t drain.

How to Fix

Make sure to change the oil after recommended intervals to prevent dirt accumulation.

Wrong Oil Type 

Using the wrong type of engine oil poses dire consequences for your vehicle. The unsuitable oil prevents oil drainage, leading to engine damage and decreasing performance.

Ensure your vehicle demands and use the correct oil type to avoid these issues.

How to Fix

To fix this, check the manufacturer’s recommendation; you can also use synthetic oil. If the problem persists, see a mechanic.

Blocked Oil Passageway 

The oil filter in your car is for trapping dirt and debris during engine circulation. However, over time this filter clogs with dirt, resulting in dirty exhaust fumes and overheating.

If you notice your car’s engine oil is not draining, it’s likely due to a blocked oil passageway.

A mechanic fixing an engine oil not draining.
Image source: iStock

How to Fix

  • First, disconnect the battery cables.
  • Now clean off the dust, debris, and grease from the passageway. 
  • Remove any remaining residue using a degreaser.
  • Rinse the area well.
  • Spray the passageway with a lubricant. 
  • Finally, reconnect the battery cables and start your engine.

Stuck engine oil plug 

An over-tightened drain plug sometimes damages the upper gasket. Do not push it to control the damage.

How to Fix

Spray some penetrating oil on the engine oil plug. Let it sit overnight and see if that does the trick. If not, try using a small hammer to turn or loosen the plug.

What Fluids Can You Accidentally Drain While Draining Engine Oil?

You must be careful while changing engine oil to avoid accidental drainage of other fluids. Fluid and brake fluid are often confused during the drainage, causing problems. 

Transmission Fluid 

Transmission fluid is a translucent dark red color found near the oil dipstick. You can face car shifting problems in case of the accidental drain of brake fluid.

If you have accidentally drained the transmission fluid instead of the engine oil, don’t panic! 

There are a few things to remedy the situation:

  • Start by putting in CVT fluid. It lubricates the transmission and prevents damage. 
  • Next, don’t start the vehicle or run it for too long. It further damages the transmission. 
  • Check your owner’s manual for specific instructions on oil changing. Avoid this mistake in the future.

Brake Fluid 

Brake fluid is also a translucent dark red color found near the transmission dipstick. If you accidentally drain brake fluid while changing your engine oil, your brakes might not work correctly.

  • First, check your brake fluid level and add more if needed. 
  • Next, bleed your brakes to remove air from the system.
  • Finally, consult a professional to check the working of your brakes.

Final Thoughts: Engine Oil Won’t Drain

Hopefully, this would’ve helped you drain the dirty engine oil. 

Let us know which solution worked for you in the comments. 

For getting more information on engine oils, explore our blog