(NUI) - Nearly half of U.S. vehicle owners do some of their own repair and maintenance. Among the most popular of these weekend projects is changing the oil and filter - a messy job, but one that can save enough money to make it worthwhile.
Many "do-it-yourselfers" save money at the expense of our environment by contaminating the soil and water with their drain oil. A valuable resource when properly recycled, drain oil helps conserve natural resources.
The Car Care Council reminds us that, if not disposed of properly, waste motor oil can interfere with the operation of sewer systems and get into underground water and streams. It takes only one gallon of waste oil to contaminate a million gallons of drinking water.
"I doubt that people deliberately would dump drain oil illegally," says Car Care Council President Don Midgley. "But, not knowing what to do with it, they take the easy way out. They should know it's illegal to pour used oil down a drain or into a storm sewer, to spread it on a driveway or use it to suppress dust."
"Further, drain oil should not be burned outdoors or mixed with other substances," Midgley says.
An excellent demonstration of a community's altering its waste disposal habits is in Rushville, Ind. During their first annual "Tox-Away Day," 497 vehicles were driven through checkpoints throughout the community, disposing of 600 gallons of oil. Disposal of that plus hundreds more gallons of other toxic fluids and several hundred lead-acid batteries made their program a huge success.
That's a good public service and awareness program, but how do you dispose of that gallon of oil you just drained?
Environmental authorities suggest you pour it into a clean plastic container and take it to a service dealer or facility that offers oil-collection services. Call your state or local used-oil program for locations of collection centers. Call 1-800-424-9346 for a list of state oil-recycling contacts or write to Resource Conservation and Recovery Docket, 401 M St., S.W., Washington, DC 20460.
The filter, normally replaced when the oil is changed, should be completely drained by punching air holes in the top and allowing it to drain for 12 hours if it's hot or 24 hours if it's cold. Check to see if there is a filter crushing and recycling facility in your community.
Transmission fluid and antifreeze, also recyclable, should be stored in sealed, labeled containers and taken to a local hazardous waste facility.