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Summary
  • Preparing everything you need, using a drain pan, and following the manufacturer’s instructions are some tips on how to use a fluid transfer pump.
  • To safely use a fluid transfer pump, be careful of fluid spills, properly dispose of old fluid, and stay away from open flames.
  • A fluid transfer pump is a tool that creates a vacuum that sucks fluid from a tank or reservoir and then deposits it into another container.

Let’s face it, topping up your vehicle’s automotive fluids can be a hassle. Changing your oil, transmission fluid, and other fluids is important, but there’s no denying that it can be time-consuming and messy sometimes. But there’s a way to make things much easier, and that’s by using a fluid transfer pump.

How To Use a Fluid Transfer Pump

Using a new tool can be intimidating. Thankfully, a fluid transfer pump is relatively easy to use. Here are a few tips to help you:

Prepare Everything You Need

You’ll save yourself a lot of time by preparing everything you need before you begin. Aside from the fuel transfer pump itself, you’ll need a drain pan, shop rags or towels, and a sufficient amount of whatever fluid you’re transferring.

Prepare your work area too. Make sure there aren’t any children, animals, or open flames around. Don’t forget to wear safety goggles, protective gloves, and comfortable clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.

Remove the Cap or Drain Plug

Depending on what automotive fluid you’re draining, you’ll have to remove the reservoir’s cap or drain plug. For example, you’ll usually have to remove the fill plug before removing the drain plug of the transmission fluid’s tank. If you aren’t sure where the cap or drain plug is, don’t hesitate to ask a mechanic for help.

Prepare the New Fluid

You can’t top up your tank without new fluid. Whether you’re pumping oil, automatic transmission fluid, or differential oil, you’ll have to make sure the container is stable and won’t tip over.

Catch the Old Fluid

Don’t forget to position your drain pan properly before you begin. Fluid transfer pumps are great for draining fluid, but things can get messy pretty fast. If you’re filling a tank to the brim, the fluid can still drip out. Make sure your drain pan is big enough to prevent any toxic fluid from spilling.

Pump the Tank

Fluid transfer pump hoses come in different sizes, so make sure you’re using the ones compatible with your vehicle. Each hose should come with a label on both ends, so make sure to attach it to your pump properly. The hole where the fluid enters through is usually labeled “IN,” while the other end where the fluid exits through is usually labeled “OUT.”

Follow the Manufacturer’s Instructions

Drain and fill procedures can vary depending on your vehicle’s year, make, and model, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Some cars require filling the tank until new fluid spills out, while others don’t. If you aren’t sure how to pump fluid from your vehicle, you can always ask a trusted mechanic for help.

Safety Precautions When Using a Fluid Transfer Pump

Using a fluid transfer pump is a fairly straightforward task, but you shouldn’t underestimate how dangerous it can be. You’ll be handling toxic automotive fluids, so you have to be extra careful. Here are a few safety tips to follow when using a fluid transfer pump:

Be Careful of Fluid Spills

After using your fluid transfer pump, don’t forget to check for spills under the hood. Brake fluid can eat away at paint surfaces, and motor oil can be poisonous when consumed. Clean up any spills to prevent children and pets from accidentally consuming them.

Caution: Coolant is particularly an issue with dogs because it’s sweet and some dogs will drink it.

Properly Dispose of Automotive Fluids

Most automotive fluids are classified as hazardous waste, so you can’t just throw them in the trash. Place the dirty old fluid in a sealed container. Some auto shops and service stations accept old oil for recycling, but you can also bring it to recycling centers in your city.

Stay Away From Open Flames

Never, ever store automotive fluids near an open flame or hot exhaust. Gasoline, coolant, engine oil, and transmission fluid are all flammable. To be safe, place the old fluid in a cool and dry place until you can properly dispose of it.

Clean the Pump After Use

Don’t forget to clean your fluid transfer pump when you’re done using it. Automotive fluids contain harsh chemicals that can permanently damage the pump. To keep it in good condition, give it a good wash after every use. You can also store it in a plastic bag to prevent dust, bugs, and other debris from entering the pump.

What Is a Fluid Transfer Pump?

A fluid transfer pump is a tool that creates a vacuum that sucks fluid from a tank or reservoir and then deposits it into another container. It makes tasks like changing your oil, flushing your transmission fluid, and topping up your brake fluid much easier.

You can find different types of automotive fluid transfer pumps on the market, such as manual and electric ones. Some work for different systems, while some only work for specific fluids. For example, oil transfer pumps typically only work for oil. If you need to pump transmission fluid, you’ll need a separate transmission fluid transfer pump.

How Much Do Fluid Transfer Pumps Cost?

Good-quality fluid transfer pumps can cost anywhere from $10 to $180. If you want an electric fluid transfer pump, you can expect to spend more. Smaller electric pumps can cost around $60, while bigger pumps can go for over $300.

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at CarParts.com

Richard McCuistian has worked for nearly 50 years in the automotive field as a professional technician, an instructor, and a freelance automotive writer for Motor Age, ACtion magazine, Power Stroke Registry, and others. Richard is ASE certified for more than 30 years in 10 categories, including L1 Advanced Engine Performance and Light Vehicle Diesel.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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