Sometimes, big benefits come in small packages

What is smaller than a golf ball, made of forged brass and stainless steel and potentially able to save your fleet thousands of dollars a year? An engine oil drain valve, that's what. And according to maintenance professionals like Tom Jarvi, vp-maintenance and purchasing for Consolidated Freightways, replacing oil drain plugs with this neat little valve from Fumoto Engineering of America can flow big benefits to your bottom line. “We use them on everything with an engine, even our forklifts,” says Jarvi, “and we have for about ten years now. It was a very easy decision to make.”

Fumoto's patented drain valve is such a simple, elegant device that it seems somehow inappropriate to screw it into an oil reservoir. However, the spring-assisted quick release valve is designed to replace the standard crankcase oil drain plug. It features a control lever that enables technicians to drain engine oil without tools and without removing the valve itself, says Norio Mitsuoka, general manager for Fumoto.

“To install the valve, you just remove the original drain plug, drain the oil, insert our Engine Oil Drain Valve and tighten it with a crescent wrench,” he says. “After that, to drain the oil all you have to do is lift the lever and give it a quarter turn to open it. Return the lever to its original position and it locks closed.

“There's no problem with leaking because the ball valve design is just like the design of valves used in pressurized gas applications,” Mitsuoka adds. “Every valve is constructed to exacting specifications and each and every one is tested for air tightness before it leaves the factory. We've sold over two million Engine Oil Drain Valves, “he adds, “and we've never had a reported problem. You can expect the valve to outlast your engine.”

“The main reason we switched to the Fumoto valve is that you don't have to remove a drain plug,” notes Jarvi. “That means you don't lose plugs, and you don't lose engines as a result of lost or leaking plugs. The ROI on that is easy to calculate. Save one engine and you've more than paid for the installation of the valve across a large fleet.

“It is a very high-quality valve,” he adds. “We just put it on and forget it. I'm not aware of any failures in ten years, that's just not been an issue.”

TEWCO Inc., Franklin, Wis., a factory distribution center for exhaust systems, mudflaps and other components, as well as one of Fumoto's own distributors, shares Jarvi's enthusiasm for the valve. “We use it ourselves on all the equipment we have, from our snow plow truck to the oil reservoirs of the hydraulic presses in our shop,” says Chad Salter, a company executive.

Even though the Fumoto valve has been in production for many years, it still has something of the cache typically accorded things like excellent but relatively unknown restaurants. Happily for fleets, however, it's available for virtually all heavy-duty truck engines on the market, according to Mitsuoka, including the new Cummins Signature Series and ISX engines. There are also valves designed to fit light-duty trucks, cars, vans, recreational vehicles and industrial equipment. For more information, you can visit Fumoto's web site at or call the company's Bellevue, Wash., headquarters at 425-869-7771.

It's only fair, however, to offer you one warning about the Fumoto valve. It may cause some traditionalists among your technicians to pine for the good old days of frozen drain plugs, stripped threads, the unmistakable plopping sound of an oil plug falling into the drain pan or the sticky feel of oil running into their sleeves. It's possible of course, but not likely.