A Greener Oil Change

Motor oil is pretty nasty stuff — Just one gallon of used oil can contaminate over a million gallons of drinking water. But oil is also a critical part of keeping your car running.

For years, Lowell’s has recycled your used oil to ensure it didn’t end up harming the environment. But we never considered using recycled oil in our oil changes…

Until now.

NextGen3Traditionally, re-refined (recycled) oils weren’t good enough for use at Lowell’s. Valvoline — headquarted here in Lexington — has finally changed that.

Related Post: What does Lowell’s do with your old oil?

Lowell’s is pleased to introduce a new, high-quality oil change option featuring a recycled oil from Valvoline.

NextGen motor oil exceeds all major industry standards while using at least 50% recycled oil. Functionally, it is equivalent to our regular Valvoline oil.

But because it uses more recycled oil, NextGen can be made with less energy and pollution (and less international strife, too) than is the case when finding, drilling, extracting, and shipping crude oil from the ends of the earth.

While oil will never be truly environmentally friendly, our oil changes with NextGen have less environmental and geopolitical impact than standard oil changes.

The best part? NextGen oil changes will only cost about $5 more than a ‘normal’ oil change. For now.*

Lowell’s still offers traditional oil changes alongside our new, greener option.

Currently, NextGen is available in 5W-20 and 5W-30 grades — the most common motor oil grades we use for Toyota and Lexus here at the shop. Ironically, this lower-impact product is not (yet) available in the 0W-20 grade used for many newer (2010 or later) hybrid vehicles and Camrys. Just ask us whether NextGen is an option for your vehicle.

* Note: Because recycled oil is easier to get and refine than traditional oil, it actually costs less to produce. For the near term, however, NextGen will cost more than a traditional Valvoline oil change because of the lower volumes we use. As more Lowell’s customers choose NextGen, we anticipate that a ‘greener’ oil change could cost the same as a traditional one.

What do we do with your old oil?

What happens to your old motor oil after you leave the shop?

Most people don’t know. Most people don’t really think about it.

Because oil can easily damage the environment if it seeps into soil or ground water, Lowell’s has recycled your used motor oil for many years.

Motor oil is made up of about 85% oil and about 15% additives. Contrary to perception, the oil component of motor oil doesn’t typically break down. As the oil is used to lubricate your engine, however, the additives do break down as they absorb contaminants. Once those additives and contaminants are removed, the remaining oil can be re-refined and reused as new.


When we drain the used oil from your vehicle, we use rolling steel containers with an attached drain pan which helps us catch the oil. We also capture other vehicle fluids — from your transmission, power steering, brakes, and cooling system, for example — in much the same way. When the rolling oil containers fill up, we pump the oil out into much larger standing tanks.

Every two weeks, a recycling service comes to our shop and pumps the used oil into their trucks. We also store used oil filters, which they pick up every few months. After picking up the oil and filters, our recycling service transports the oil to their facility in Columbus, Ohio.

There, they re-refine the waste oil to remove fuel, water, additives, and other contaminants, and they distill the refined oil into new petroleum-containing consumer products. They also crush the oil filters, extract the old oil, and send out the filter body as scrap metal to other recyclers.

Related Post: A greener oil change See how Lowell’s offers high-quality oil changes using recycled oil.

Eighty-six percent of our waste oil is recycled directly back into new motor oil, like Valvoline’s NextGen oil. About 5% is used for asphalt paving and roofing materials. The rest is used for other petroleum-based products.

In the video above, Valvoline explains how old motor oil can be recycled into ‘as-good-as-new’ (in our case, we think of it as ‘better-than-new’) NextGen oil.

Call the shop if you’d like to learn more about our recycling process, or about how you might use recycled products for your vehicle.