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Old 09-30-2003, 10:38 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central, NJ
Posts: 246
Question What's the truth about through the dip-stem oil extractors?

Iíve read posts that have stated: Donít work; Work great; Work somewhat but leave oil behind and finally; Work great and they get out more oil out than by removing the plug.

What is the truth? And which (if any) is the best?

Best diameter tube to use?

And can I simply buy a drill mounted pump attach a line of tubing?

I'm inclined to be a bit cheap. Which is at partially the reason we own diesels. (Comeíon now. Be honest)!

Iíve always changed my oil the old fashioned way, from underneath. I donít own ramps because I will not get underneath a car on ramps. But this would make things allot easier, if it works. Thanks.


'79 300D, "Liesel von Diesel", 235K

I kid proofed the house....but they still get in
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Old 09-30-2003, 11:50 PM
Posts: n/a
How much creaper can it get than a wrench and an pan?

Honestly, if you don't want to get under the car to remove a plug then take it to a Wal-Mart tire and lube express to get your oil and filter chanmged there.

If you do use the tube method, you still must remove the oil filter top and the messy oil soaked filter. Nothing can beat an overnight drain on a warm engine.

In my opinion, save your money and your time.
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Old 10-01-2003, 01:37 AM
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smoke gets in your eyes
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Eastern TN
Posts: 20,812
I don't know what genius put the OM617 drain plug on the back side of the oil pan. The M103 drain plug is on the side of the oil pan, is easily accessible without lifting the car, and does as good a job of letting oil flow out of the engine as far as I can tell.

There are lots of opinions on oil extractors to help you decide for yourself. The only thing that is certain is that you DON'T NEED one. I have lots of things I don't need so a Topsider isn't out of place in my garage. I use it to extract engine oil, transmission fluid and power steering fluid. You can't completely drain a transmission or power steering system, but you can replace half the fluid with each oil change if you're inclined to do so.

We have an AT car that doesn't have a transmission drain plug. I extract what I can through the dipstick tube so I don't have to worry that the pan will come completely off before I'm ready for it to do so.

When I pulled the head off one of my cars I did an experiment of seeing how long it took oil to drain from the cylinder. Cold oil doesn't drain very quickly through the gaps in the piston rings so I used the extractor to clean up the cylinders. I also used the extractor to clean the head bolt holes in the block. I could go on but I'm sure you get the picture... that it's a useful tool, not that I'm an idiot

95 S420
91 300SE
87 300SDL
83 300SD
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Old 10-01-2003, 09:20 AM
I told you so!
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Motor City, MI
Posts: 2,848
Toblin, I remember reading through all the posts on oil evacuation. It was over a year ago when I bought my first Benz and I was trying to figure out all the hype on using a topsider, never before having heard of the concept being used on cars.

Here are a few points that people have noted:

- The best oil change for the engine is usually done by gravity through the drain plug with the engine warm.

- Oil is extracted much easier with a topsider when the engine is warm.

- Sometimes the topsider needs to be pumped twice with vacuum to complete the oil change.

- Using a topsider is cleaner and useful for people who hate crawling under cars. The lower sound shield doesn't need to be removed for those cars that have one.

- Some MB engines have an oil drain plug that is NOT at the very bottom of the pan. For those engines the topsider can get more oil out than traditional gravity drain.

- Some reported that, after using a topsider, they double checked the evacuation efficiency by opening the drain plug, and no extra oil came out.

There are pros and cons to using a topsider versus traditional gravity drain. It appears that a lot of this depends on the oil pan design of the particular engine and the owner's preference. I suppose if a person hates crawling under the car, they'll be more inclined to change the oil often using a topsider, which will ultimately lead to better car care.

I use the traditional HOO method (Hot, Overnight, Often). My car has the drain plug at a location that appears to be at the lowest point in the pan. Plus I try to keep things simple (and cheap) in my garage and reduce clutter by not having a topsider.
95 E320 Cabriolet, 159K

Last edited by Kestas; 10-01-2003 at 09:30 AM.
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Old 10-01-2003, 11:38 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: PA
Posts: 5,440

I don't have any trouble with the drain plug being on the back of the oil pan on my 617s. I try to change the oil very close to a multiple of the 10,000 mile mark and that seems to happen when I am away from home. Therefore the oil has been changed more times on the road in parking lots than in the grease pit in my garage. Its been changed in WA, KY, TX, AZ (2X), LA, Canada and a few more I can't remember.

I don't even jack up the car because I can reach the drain plug easily and let it drain overnight into a 2 gallon plastic container with a hole cut in one side that I had the foresight to take along. I also loosen the bottom oil cooler connection and take the top off the oil filter. Then, the next morning I replace the drain plug, tighten the oil cooler fitting, replace the oil filter and fill it with Mobil 1. QED.

If you think the oil plug is a bad design on a 617, you should try the oil filter on a 240D. Its impossible to get the external can off because there is not enough room between the engine and the frame. The can has to be turned upside down, spilling the oil out, to R&R the filter cartridges. Its a royal PITA. I love the top side oil filter on the 617 engines, although I might not like it as much if I ever have to remove the injection pump.

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Old 10-01-2003, 01:49 PM
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Location: Baton Rouge, LA.
Posts: 583
Ok here is my .02, There are other reasons to use the drainplug in the pan (at least for me) I use this as an oportunity to inspect the suspension, rotate the tires, and anything else that is different or unsual from the last time I was underneath the car. If you never get under to change the oil when would you get under it to check these things(when they start making noise?) I have the luxury of an inground lift though
Keith Schuster
2006 E350 98K miles
2013 Ford Explorer 15K miles
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Old 10-01-2003, 02:04 PM
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smoke gets in your eyes
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Eastern TN
Posts: 20,812
I'm begining to feel like Gray Davis here

95 S420
91 300SE
87 300SDL
83 300SD
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Old 10-01-2003, 03:47 PM
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Location: Land O Lakes, FL
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I did the most recent change on the 240D from underneath without jacking it up, and had no trouble reaching the drain plug. I also have no trouble changing the oil filter, so I don't understand what PEH is complaining about there.

I've used the Topsider on the 240D, and I always use it on the E300 and VW so I don't have to mess with the belly pans. If the Topsider will get you to change oil when you otherwise wouldn't, then go for it.

Regarding the drill pump, I'm don't think it would handle the heat because you want to do this when the oil is warm. The Topsider comes with two different diameter hoses that are joined by a rubber piece. I had trouble with the larger hose collapsing because of the heat, so I got rid of it and just use the smaller, stiffer hose. Just buy a real Topsider or equivalent and enjoy.
Rick Miley
2014 Tesla Model S
2018 Tesla Model 3
2017 Nissan LEAF
Former MB: 99 E300, 86 190E 2.3, 87 300E, 80 240D, 82 204D Euro
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Old 10-01-2003, 04:55 PM
Marshall Booth
Posts: n/a
Mercedes designed all their engines made after the early '70 for vacuum oil extraction. They are designed so that the dipstick tube can be used as a suction tube and will remove as much oil as removing the drain plug will remove! Every few years somebody challanges that and will actually extract the oil and then remove the drain plug to see how much more comes out. If they've not been careless, NO MORE OIL will come out (well maybe a few drops, but usually not even that). I have been using suction (a Big Boy Topsider) to change my oil for almost 7 years and it works fine. I would slightly prefer a powered suction device as it could extract the oil a little faster (it takes about 10-12 minutes to extract the up to 8 qt that's in my 603.96 engine - but I use the time to change the filter and check the tires and check/top up fluids).

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Old 10-01-2003, 08:24 PM
Posts: n/a
Originally posted by Kestas

There are pros and cons to using a topsider versus traditional gravity drain.
Actually, for the Mercedes, the "traditional gravity drain" isn't traditional. Mercedes has designed their engines for dip-stick drain at least since my 1980 280E and probably earlier. All Mercedes dealers use the dip-stick suction method when they service Mercedes and have since at least 1980. Every independent MB mechanic I've ever seen uses the dip-stick drain method.

(P.S. it doesn't matter to me which method you use, but don't choose the drain-plug because it's "traditional.")
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Old 10-01-2003, 08:35 PM
Posts: n/a
Re: What's the truth about through the dip-stem oil extractors?

Originally posted by Toblin

I'm inclined to be a bit cheap.
If you search the archives, you'll probably find some real "cheap" oil suckers. People make them using an existing shop vac, a plastic fuel can, and $2 worth of fittings from Home Depot. Check
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Old 10-01-2003, 08:58 PM
I told you so!
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Motor City, MI
Posts: 2,848
It's also been reported that Mercedes has gone with Topsider oil changes to improve work flow in their service departments. Instead of taking a car to a dedicated bay with a pit, or carting along drain pans, the service personnel can more easily and quickly bring a topsider to the bay a car is being serviced at.
95 E320 Cabriolet, 159K
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Old 10-01-2003, 09:50 PM
DCM DCM is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: So. CA
Posts: 200
Within the last week, I have seen a posting refering to Harbor Freight's web site. They have a Topsider look alike for about $25.

I could not find that posting in this thread but if it was, sorry for wasting time.

Recently, I bought a powered unit (Jabsco) mail order because I had heard tales about Topsiders collapsing occasionally and some say they take a lot of pumping to get adequate vacuum.

I don't have the harbor freight link or would put it in here. Good luck.
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Old 10-01-2003, 11:31 PM
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Old Lyme, Connecticut
Posts: 3,595

I have a hard time understanding why this is even vaguely controversial. I use the Topsider type devices, and have for probably a dozen years now. I started when MB began enclosing the bottom end of the engine compartment with plastic parts held in place with cheesy fasteners. I rounded the drain plug hex corners off and broke the plastic cover fasteners on my 1991 350SD the first time I tried, and became convinced MB, who serviced the car for the previous owner, never touched these items in the 4 years and 70,000 miles the previous owner had the car. I also rounded the flats on the bolt on my 1986 190E the first time I changed oil - and I took ownership after the first 1,000 mile service. I was very pleased with the option to use the dipstick tube and avoid these extra, irritating steps. .

My regularity of oil changes increased significantly, especially in the Winter. I do not have a garage and for many years did not have a paved driveway. In the Winter there is nothing particularly macho or traditional about lying in an icy, slushy mess while you change the oil. The Topsider method makes this much less of an obstacle to doing the job with serious regularity.

With the Topsider I estimate I remove 98% or more of the used oil in the engine that can be practically removed by either method. 98% or more of what remains is only 5,000 or 6,000 miles "old" (I use Delvac 1). The whole operation is over in 45 minutes. This includes a 15 minute ride to heat the oil up first, changing the oil filter, the little O-rings on the filter housing cap stem, and fully cleaning up the mess - including pouring the old oil into the empty new gallon containers the Delvac 1 comes in. There is no excuse when it gets that easy to change oil regularly even in the Winter in my situation.

I think once the oil is changed regularly, and hot, the few dribbles of old oil left, if it is more than the remnants left using the pan drain plug overnight, are absolutely negligible. It is much more important to change the oil regularly.

As others have noted there is also nothing wrong with using the drain plug. It may even get a few more of the last molecules that will come out, out. But if you drive another week or two because of rain, snow or some other reason for not wanting to crawl under the car, any theoretical benefit is lost.

So, don't take this as preaching the Topsider is better. It likely is not better. But a Topsider is pretty effective and clearly good enough. My 1998 E300D TurboDiesel will run with fresh Delvac 1 in it, for several hundred miles before it turns black. If a lot of old oil was in the system that would not be the case.

I am also not a real fan of getting my hands in used Diesel engine lubricating oil, as it is pretty nasty getting it off and I do not work on the car's engine with gloves (my mistake in many cases). With the Topsider I can do the job with nearly no mess. I use a technique I learned from someone on this site to get the oil filter out without touching it. I pull a plastic bag backwards over the hand I reach in to get the oil filter out, and once I get my finger on the little handle on the filter (through the bag), I pull the filter up and then roll the bag down over the filter as it emerges from the filter housing. I lose a drip or two and wipe them up with a paper towel.

One more benefit of Delvac 1 is that it wipes off pretty cleanly and when you do get it on your hands it is much easier to wash off than anything I have tried before, including many years of Mobil 1 15W-50.

So the point is the Topsider method meets MB's requirement for oil removal when changing the oil. I have used it for more than a decade and find it very convenient. The decision to use it or not is about as meaningful as which side of your head you part your hair, even if you are bald. It is a personal preference and I see no downside to selecting the device from the perspective the engine's long term happiness, while I find the clean up much more reliable - no spills or other disasters. Good luck, Jim
1986 Euro 190E 2.3-16 (291,000 miles),
1998 E300D TurboDiesel, 231,000 miles -purchased with 45,000,
1988 300E 5-speed 252,000 miles,
1983 240D 4-speed, purchased w/136,000, now with 222,000 miles.
2009 ML320CDI Bluetec, 89,000 miles

1971 220D (250,000 miles plus, sold to father-in-law),
1975 240D (245,000 miles - died of body rot),
1991 350SD (176,560 miles, weakest Benz I have owned),
1999 C230 Sport (45,400 miles),
1982 240D (321,000 miles, put to sleep)
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Old 10-02-2003, 12:07 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Los Angeles CA
Posts: 154
I use the Topsider Big Boy and believe in that method. It takes little time, makes no mess, simplifies oil recycling and since I drive about an oil change worth of miles per month I appreciate a minimum of hassle. I've done it both ways but only use the Topsider now. I have enough other opportunities to get the car in the air replacing brakes and the like that the underside does not get neglected, but since I do my maintenance work by myself in my spare time on the weekends, simple is good and the Topsider is simple.

Richard Detoy
'84 300SD
'76 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans
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