Is engine oil poisonous?

By Product Expert | Posted in Safety, Tips & Tricks on Saturday, March 7th, 2020 at 3:25 pm
Transcluscent amber oil pours from a container.

It’s pretty clear that engine oil is not a good thing to drink for refreshment. But how bad is it? Is motor oil poisonous?

Motor Oil Safety and Toxicity

Yes, engine oil is poisonous. As a result, it should be stored out of reach of children. When changing the oil, it’s also recommended that you do not drain your oil into an empty food or beverage container. Someone may mistake it for a drink (imagine oil in a coffee cup) and take a big swig.

How can I safely change my engine oil?

Our favorite automaker, Volkswagen, provides some helpful tips to ensure a safe oil change on one’s vehicle. These were specifically written with VW models in mind, but we believe they should be widely applicable no matter what you drive.

The safest option is to have the procedure performed by a trained and certified service center.

A mechanic prepares to drain oil safely from the underside of a vehicle.

Oil change precautions recommended by Volkswagen include:

  • Eye protection should always be worn
  • Let the engine cool down completely before beginning, in order to reduce the risk of getting scalded by hot engine oil
  • Stay as far away as possible when removing the oil drain plug with your fingers. Keep your forearm parallel to the ground to ensure you don’t end up with hot oil streaming down your arm
  • Drain the oil into a container designed for this purpose. It should also be large enough to hold at least the total amount of oil in your engine
  • Never drain the oil into empty food or beverage containers. Someone might make the mistake of drinking from them (again, imagine oil in a coffee cup) and get poisoned
  • Use oil that has been especially approved for your vehicle. Information can be found in the Owner’s Manual. VW Owner’s Manuals can be accessed online by simply entering your VIN on the requisite page.
  • Store engine oil out of the reach of children, as it is poisonous.


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