Magnetic Drain Plug: Pros and Cons

someone holding a magnetic drain plug

Magnetic drain plugs are very effective at removing metallic particles from circulation within the engine. To decide whether or not a magnetic drain plug is right for your car, compare the pros and cons of magnetic drain plugs, consider your automotive needs, and use these considerations as a basis for your decision.

Pros of Magnetic Drain Plugs

Magnetic oil plugs have many fantastic assets, all of which should be considered when weighing this decision.

They're highly reusable, and cheaper than disposable filters. While you will still need to use a standard oil filter, its lifespan will be increased and it will function closer to its optimum for longer.

Because many metal particles are now attracted to your drain plug, and the oil filter has less gunk on it, the flow restriction created by your oil filter will be decreased. Oil will flow more easily through your engine, and this will increase the lifespan and health of your engine.

It is less likely that you will experience oil oxidation, as particles that contribute to the process of oxidation will adhere to the magnet.

If something goes wrong with your engine and you need to identify harmful particles, samples can be taken from the magnetic plug. The amount of particles on the plug at the time of oil change can also provide an indication of problems—if there is a sudden increase, you can seek out the aid of a mechanic or perform repairs before the problem becomes serious.

Cons of Magnetic Drain Plugs

standard drain plug

While the pros of magnetic oil plugs are significant, there are some drawbacks to be aware of when making the decision to use a magnetic plug.

The particles that attach to the plug, if left over time, could detach as a big lump and cause major problems in the engine. A magnetic separator in the line can make this problem less likely, but it is definitely something to consider, especially since a high rate of oil flow is a contributing factor.

The magnetic plug won't do anything to help you identify non-magnetized particles that may be in your engine.

Cleaning these plugs is a messy job. Because they're reusable, they have to be cleaned when the oil is changed. To remove the particles from the magnetic drain plug, you will need to use an air hose, and safety concerns may arise. You will have to protect your skin from the tiny particles, and the possibility of getting one in your eye if the air hose is used unsafely makes goggles a strong recommendation.

Weighing the Options

If you have access to the tools necessary to properly clean and maintain your magnetic drain plug, or if your mechanic performs your oil changes and doesn't mind the hassle, these plugs are probably a good choice for you, and will help to reduce wear on your engine. If you're concerned about large particle clumps letting loose in your oil flow, or if the idea of using an air hose to blast small metal shavings off of a tiny plug sounds intimidating, it might be best to leave the oil drain plug in place.