What is an Oil Catch Can and Do They Work? – Autowise (2023)

The oil catch tank, otherwise called an oil catch can is a simple device that’s fitted into your vehicle’s cam/crankcase ventilation system. Having an oil catch can reduces the amount of oil vapors that get recirculated into the engine’s intake.

Most of the time, you’ll only see these in modified vehicles. You are probably wondering, why do they have them and does it really work? If they are so great, why don’t the new cars come with them installed? These are all questions we seek to answer in this article.

What is an Oil Catch Can Good For?

We could get as detailed and technical about explaining this as you could imagine. Let’s break it down into a layman’s explanation and a professional commentary as well. You choose which one works for you.

Layman’s Terms

What is an Oil Catch Can and Do They Work? – Autowise (1)

Your engine is volatile. It’s filled with fuel, hot oil, lots of forced air, as well as plenty of moving metal components. All of these work together to create combustion. If you don’t know what combustion is, it’s basically just a series of explosions.

While the combustion process occurs, most of the compacted gas gets expelled out through your exhaust. There is some left behind which makes its way into your crankcase instead. This is referred to as blow-by.

The stock crankshaft ventilation system is fitted to prevent buildup from the mist. The valve inside diverts that dirty air. With an oil catch can, you effectively separate the air from the oil. This filter sends the air back to the engine without the oil so it can continue feeding the vehicle.

The oil catch tank gets fitted to the crankcase’s breather system. You place it between the intake system and the breather outlet. When the vapors pass through the can, oil droplets, water vapor, and unburnt fuel condense. This causes them to settle in the tank. This process keeps them from ever reaching your intake and prevents negative consequences.

The best oil catch can comes with a filter inside. This might be a Brillo-type or fine metal mesh. This medium creates a larger area to allow those vapors the chance to condense. You will need to drain the excess oil that accumulates over time, but this is a simple process that only involves opening the drain plug.

Wow! That was the simple explanation. Are you ready for the professional version?

Technical Terms

In a typical four-stroke engine, the piston goes up and down four times per cycle. When it first goes down, the intake valves open to create a vacuum. This process allows the cooler dense air to come in for combustion.

During that same time, fuel enters the cylinder. Then, your intake valves close while the piston rises towards the top of your cylinder. The compression causes pressure build-up inside the cylinder.

This pressure becomes so high that a little air escapes through the piston and the rings. This air makes its way into the crankcase. Again, this is referred to as blow-by. As your RPMs rise, the amount of this blow-by also increases. If you have an engine with more cylinders, you can also expect more blow-by.

Let’s be clear for a minute; not all the air escapes or we would never have combustion. It’s just a small amount.

The crank itself turns inside the oil pan full of oil (obviously). While this keeps everything lubricated, it’s essential that there’s ventilation so there isn’t a build-up of pressure inside the crankcase. If a build-up occurs, you’ll face failure from the force. This, in turn, leads to lots of oil blowing out on the street.

The pressure coming from the crankcase goes back through the intake tract and isn’t made of just air. It’s also going to contain oil. This passes through your intercooler and goes back into the combustion chamber. Along the way, the oil coats everything from the intake manifold, valves, boost hoses, and intercooler. Because the temperatures are so high, the oil solidifies onto the valves.

So – What’s Happens After This?

Good question! The intake valves get caked with oil. In engines with port injection, this isn’t an issue because the gas is introduced prior to the combustion chamber. This allows it to flow over the intake valves. This action actually cleans out the valves and prevents the caking of oil.

In a direct injection engine, caked on oil causes many symptoms. These include:

  • Pre-ignition
  • Knocking
  • Lower fuel economy
  • Power loss

We know what you’re thinking now – you want to know why the manufacturers set it up this way. Honestly, there isn’t anywhere safe for them to revert the gas. Clearly, they couldn’t put it back into the atmosphere.

Your next question is – why don’t the automakers install the oil catch can at the factory? It’s hard enough to get the average person to change their oil, do you really think they’ll take the time to empty an oil catch can? Probably not.

By putting the oil catch can after the PVC, before the intercooler, you solve the problem. This allows a pure air mixture to go into the intake valves and intercooler. This also means you won’t have to worry about caking of oil and a decrease in performance.

Let’s be honest; having an oil catch can isn’t going to significantly increase your power or make awesome noises that turn heads. That’s why many people who modify vehicles overlook this essential piece of equipment. If they took the time to install one, they would find that the engine typically runs at the most power possible and is worth the extra effort.

Wouldn’t a Breather Do the Job?

If you don’t know what a breather is, it’s just a cap that attaches to the valve cover from the PVC end. Instead of allowing fuel back into the system, it relieves the pressure by allowing gases to evaporate through its filter. If you want to prevent leakage from the intake side, you’ll have to cap the intake off.

There are some downsides to this method. First, the engine bay is a dirty place. This method often causes a strong smell from the oil and raw fuel. In addition, the filters need to be replaced every time they become ineffective. With the best oil catch can, you’ll simply empty it when it’s full and then reconnect it.

How Hard is it to Install an Oil Catch Can?

What is an Oil Catch Can and Do They Work? – Autowise (2)The best part about installing an oil catch can is that the process is easy. You don’t have to worry about performing an aftermarket tune. This is great if you’ve already had the tune because you won’t have to change anything to conform.

In total, installation of an oil catch can should take you about five minutes. Just disconnect the hose and reconnect it. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Buying the Best Oil Catch Can

When you’re ready to look for the best oil catch can, there are some things you should know first.Not every oil catch tank is the same. In fact, you run the risk of purchasing one that is straight out junk if you aren’t careful.

The biggest scam is purchasing an oil catch can that doesn’t have anything inside it. It should come with parts like a filter media and hose. It shouldn’t be an empty can.

Even if you get one with the hose attached, it might not be the level of quality you hoped for. Many of them won’t actually hold up to the vacuum pressure or heat of your engine compartment. It might melt or collapse which is a disaster. If the hose feels at all flimsy to you, we highly recommend purchasing a separate aftermarket hose instead.

The good news is that there are plenty of reputable companies that pride themselves on making the best oil catch cans. Look for parts made from companies such as Cusco, Mishimoto, and GReddy. They often come with drain valves and sight level checks, which make everything easier.

If, on the other hand, you wish to fabricate your own oil catch can, then purchasing one of the cheap options is perfectly acceptable. Just look for one you can open to insert the filter media of your choice. Make sure you put stainless steel mesh inside so it doesn’t rust and won’t burn. Otherwise, you risk shredding metal ending up in your engine.

Higher-quality cans won’t use steel wool at all but prefer to come with a baffle system. This also removes the oil from the oil-air mixture. We find these are better at separation and seem to be less messy.

We’ve picked five models we trust.

1. Cusco 9mm Universal Oil Catch Can 2L Capacity

What is an Oil Catch Can and Do They Work? – Autowise (3)

Cusco is one of the companies we mentioned that you can rely on to provide high-quality oil catch cans. This manufacturer is based out of Japan and spends their time researching the latest technologies for performance products that improve the driving experience. If you look inside many of the fastest modified cars, you’ll likely find some Cusco products used in their car.

Their oil catch can doesn’t disappoint. This 9mm variety is specifically designed to trap the harmful elements from entering your intake system. This prevents unburned gasoline and oil contaminants from causing buildup inside the intake. Because it keeps your system clear, it naturally improves the performance of your vehicle.

Keep in mind that this is the most expensive product on our list, but it comes complete with everything you need for installation. You receive the hardware, hose, and brackets. Not only is the Cusco oil can polished and finished in their flagship blue color, but it also holds 2-liters of material.

2. GReddy Oil Catch Tank: 9mm Hose (600cc)

What is an Oil Catch Can and Do They Work? – Autowise (4)GReddy is another reliable brand that you’ve likely seen in Super Street Magazine and at SEMA. They are a leader in aftermarket performance parts, which is why you can trust them with your oil catch can. This one is priced slightly lower than the option from Cusco, so it’s a nice choice if you want the best oil catch can, but still want to save a little dough.

This super-light can reduces the amount of blow-by gas that enters the engine. In doing this, your engine burns efficiently and helps the engine oil to last longer. By removing the oil from your throttle and plugs, you can expect your engine to perform better as well.

This 600cc can sits vertically and comes complete with sharp-looking red fittings. Allow GReddy to catch that oil, blow-by gas, and moisture so your engine and intake can do its job.

3. Mishimoto Large Aluminum Oil Catch Can

What is an Oil Catch Can and Do They Work? – Autowise (5)Going even further down the budget, without sacrificing quality, you find this option from Mishimoto. This one comes in three varying colors so you can customize it to your car’s look. This tank prevents the harmful buildup of oil from your intercooler, piping, turbocharger, and intake manifold. By doing so, you don’t have to worry about lower combustion temperatures or reduced efficiency.

Your polished can comes as a complete kit. It contains your mounting bracket, clamps, fittings, mounting hardware, and hoses to make things even easier on you. This simple upgrade is the ideal way to increase performance and add a professional appearance.

What makes this option different from the rest is that it comes with a lifetime warranty. That adds value and shows pride in their product. If something were to go wrong, which it shouldn’t, you are covered.

It’s a lightweight, compact design and also provides a built-in sight tube for quick checks. This 30-ounce can also comes in a variety of colors from wrinkle red, wrinkle black, or polished aluminum for a truly custom look.

4. Vincos Universal 3/8″& 9/16″ 400ml Aluminum Oil Catch Can

What is an Oil Catch Can and Do They Work? – Autowise (6)If you need to prioritize your budget, there’s still an option available to you. This universal catch can from Vincos is made from high-quality aluminum for durability and strength. It’s an ideal option if you want the most performance out of your vehicle.

Preserve your engine life by keeping it clean and running its best. This premium oil catch can captures the moisture and oil from the blow-by gas which leads to sludge and carbon build-up in the engine and intake system. This fully TIG welded system comes complete with an O-ring gasket to ensure there’s no oil leakage.

There are also two ways to install this option. Because it comes with your air filter, you could apply it as a vented system. With the stainless steel screw-on breather and hose clamp, it doesn’t matter how you install it; the unit won’t come loose from vibration. What’s nice about this setup is that you can also clean it easily. You don’t need to remove it when it gets full. Simply unscrew the bottom of the reservoir and everything you need to clean is accessible.

5. Ruien 0046 Polish Baffled Universal Aluminum Oil Catch Can

What is an Oil Catch Can and Do They Work? – Autowise (7)This lightweight oil catch can is the lowest priced option that is still durable and long-lasting. It’s constructed of aluminum and is effective as well. You’ll be able to catch the moisture and oil found in the blow-by gas which leads to sludge and carbon build-up. By doing so, you’ll effectively increase the life of your engine and intake system, plus you should see an increase in performance.

Even if you tend to drive under hard conditions, you can rely on this oil catch can to protect your car. The system comes complete with everything you need to get started. You’ll have the can, hoses, mounting bracket, and clamps.

While it’s a universal fit, the company recommends having it professionally installed. As you can see from our instructions earlier, if you know anything about cars, that’s not probably necessary. Attaching this or any oil catch can should take less than five minutes and is pretty straightforward. If you can afford a system better than this, we recommend you upgrade. If this is all that’s in your budget, it’s a great start.

Final Thoughts

If you take the performance of your vehicle seriously and you want to extend the life of your engine, you owe it to your car to add an oil catch can to the equation. For the cost, it’s a no-brainer as an easy, affordable upgrade that anyone can perform.

With a nice selection of options to choose from, it’s easy to get exactly what you want. There are some model specific options on the market, but there are also plenty of universal choices, like the ones we reviewed. Take your car’s performance and efficiency to the next level and invest in the best oil catch can. You may just be surprised what this minor modification can do.


Do oil catch cans actually work? ›

Oil catch work by capturing harmful particles from engine blow-by. However, research has shown that aftermarket catch cans lack the efficiency of OEM counterparts. With so much variation in the development of aftermarket parts, it is hard to tell an effective oil catch can from an ineffective one.

What are the negatives of oil catch can? ›

Oil catch can purposes and benefits

But then again, the said part can also cause oil mixed with air to collect inside the engine's cylinders. If left as is for a period of time, the air mixed with oil can form into sludge. This will result in inefficient fuel burn, accelerated wear and tear, among others.

Should I put an oil catch can on my car? ›

Is it necessary? Strictly speaking, any car can continue to run without an oil catch can. However, if you do not install one, you have to take other steps to deal with the effects of blowby in your vehicle. One is the removal of the manifold in the DFI engine so the deposits can be cleaned off.

What is the reason for an oil catch can? ›

An oil catch can is used to filter and catch the excess oil before recirculation. Its other goal is to prevent oil mist or vapour from reaching the crankcase, which is known as blow-by. Blow-by is defined as the loss of compression as it leaks past the piston rings into the crankcase.

Why don t car manufacturers fit catch cans? ›

Engine makers don't fit catch cans, because they're not necessary on an unmodified engine.

Do I drain oil from catch can? ›

Most catch cans are fitted with a drain plug to remove this oil catchment periodically. Usually they should not require emptying between normal engine service intervals.

Can a catch can hurt your engine? ›

This is particularly dangerous for boosted cars, as it can cause your blow-off/bypass valve or wastegate to stop functioning properly, or in some cases at all. This in turn can lead to over-boost which could destroy your engine.

Will an oil catch can help mpg? ›

This also ensures a long life of the engine and enables it to deliver excellent performance. Moreover, the fuel economy level also improves after installing the Oil Catch Can.

Does an oil catch can increase horsepower? ›

An oil catch can doesn't add any power or make any cool noises so it is often overlooked when modifying vehicles. However, a catch can will ensure you always have a cleaner intake tract free of oil, and help keep your engine running better for longer.

Are catch cans illegal? ›

Catch can's are 100% legal, and on some well designed diesels they actually come as standard. Sadly, this isn't the case for your average 4WD motor. In the past, people would just run a pipe to the inside of their chassis, and let the oil film run into the chassis, for 'rust prevention'!

Can the cold affect your oil catch can? ›

During the cold months, an Oil Catch Can will filter out a larger yield of contaminants. The reason is that an Oil Catch Can that is cooler than the warmer "dirty" air being pushed into the can will collect more contaminants.

Why do catch cans void warranty? ›

Warranty Coverage will not apply to damage caused by modifications carried out at a non-Toyota repairer or failures in non-genuine parts and accessories. And if the catch can causes damage to your engine by restricted air flow, your warranty will be void.

Are cheap catch cans worth it? ›

The truth is that while oil catch cans can be beneficial, they are largely only beneficial under certain circumstances, and then only if the device was made by a reputable manufacturer, and installed by a reputable service provider.

Who makes good catch cans? ›

HPD's catch can is machined from billet aluminium in Australia. A high-quality product with good aesthetic appeal, it shows thought to the design with integrated dipstick to make it easy to check oil volume.

How often do you change a catch can filter? ›

The Provent catch can contains a stainless steel internal separator that should be changed every 20 – 40,000 klms depending on the the engine.

Where is the best place to mount a catch can? ›

The catch can will be mounted somewhere in the engine bay. The catch can will be mounted to the bracket that secures the remote thermostat housing in place. This location allows easy access to the drain on the bottom of the can and gives you a nice path for the lines to follow from the vents.

What engines need a catch can? ›

The oil catch can is necessary for direct injection engines. In port-injected engines, the fuel is sprayed into the intake manifold, and it works as a cleanser. It washes off the oil and reduces debris build-up.

What damages an engine the most? ›

The most common way that engines sustain major damage is from overheating. When an engine runs too hot, it can cause gaskets and seals to leak, can cause metal components to bend and warp and can even cause metal parts to fuse together and seize the engine if things get really, really hot.

How often do you change the oil in a catch can? ›

2500-5k miles. Depending on oil changes.

What is the advantage of a catch can? ›

Oil catch cans are simple devices that can greatly benefit direct-injected engines. They prevent oil and other contaminants from causing buildup inside your engine's intake manifold.

How do you keep your mpg higher? ›

How to Improve Gas Mileage in 5 Steps
  1. Clear out the extra clutter. There are some items you should keep in your car, like an emergency kit. ...
  2. Limit idling. ...
  3. Keep your speed steady and within the speed limit. ...
  4. Check your tire pressure. ...
  5. Perform regular maintenance.

How can I maximize my mpg? ›

Simply put, the less time you spend braking and accelerating, the less fuel you'll use.
  1. Accelerate and decelerate smoothly. ...
  2. Remove Excess Weight. ...
  3. Check your speed & use cruise control. ...
  4. Use your gears properly. ...
  5. Service & maintain your car. ...
  6. Avoid Unnecessary Idling. ...
  7. Use air con & heating functions wisely. ...
  8. Don't Coast.
Aug 25, 2022

What adds a lot of horsepower? ›

Supercharger or turbocharger

While this is one of the most expensive options on the list, you'll be impressed with the power that each of these add-ons delivers. Also known as forced induction parts, both of these components force air into your car's engine which improves horsepower and torque.

Can you install a catch can yourself? ›

It is possible to fit our Flashlube Catch Can Pro system by yourself. We have them available as a universal kit or a vehicle specific kit including moulded hoses and custom brackets for an ever expanding range of vehicles. Of course it goes without saying that care needs to be taken when fitting these kits.

Does a catch can void warranty? ›

Theoretically, installing a catch can should not void the warranty unless it causes the problem.

Do oil catch cans reduce performance? ›

They can significantly improve performance by catching residual oil and preserving the valve and intake manifold from contaminants. They can also improve fuel economy by capturing oil that would otherwise be burned in the engine and recirculated back to the crankcase.

Does oil catch can reduce carbon build up? ›

The RTMG Carbon Oil Catch Can can reduce the carbon build up on the intake valves up to 60%. The catch can also prevents oil pooling into the intercooler and intercooler hoses.

What are the 5 disadvantages of oil? ›

What are the disadvantages of using crude oil?
  • Oil is a non-renewable source of energy. ...
  • Burning oil produces carbon dioxide gas. ...
  • Burning oil can pollute the air.
  • Much of our oil has to be imported and it is becoming more and more expensive as reserves reduce and imports increase.

How do you prevent carbon build up in your engine? ›

Preventing carbon build-up
  1. Change oil according to the manufacturer's recommended change intervals and using the specified oil for optimal performance of the intake valves.
  2. Replace spark plugs at the recommended mileage to reduce the amount of unburned fuel in the combustion chamber.

How do you keep carbon out of your engine? ›

While the engine is running at the correct operating temperature, Increasing the engine RPMs helps the motor to burn-off carbon buildup within. The use of specialized fuel additives and fuel treatments will also aid the engine in removing these deposits.

What is the biggest threat to oil? ›

Whilst climate change is one of the major threats to oil and gas, the disruption from protests and activism goes beyond the green agenda.

Why don t we drill for oil in America? ›

The reason that U.S. oil companies haven't increased production is simple: They decided to use their billions in profits to pay dividends to their CEOs and wealthy shareholders and simply haven't chosen to invest in new oil production.

What is the biggest problem with oil? ›

Some major controversies of this industry include:
  • Cyberattacks on infrastructure.
  • Drilling and pipelines on Indigenous nations' lands.
  • Drilling and pipelines near national parks.
  • Environmental impact, such as water, natural habitats, and air quality.
  • Financial power of integrated oil companies.
  • Impact on climate change.
7 days ago


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