How to Remove Stuck Oil Filter

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An oil filter serves a vital purpose in a car’s engine, keeping contaminants and debris out of the oil. This is a necessary process as the engine oil lubricates all of the engine’s moving parts. Over time, however, the oil filter can become clogged with dirt and debris, reducing its effectiveness. When this happens, learn how to remove stuck oil filter.

The oil filter usually looks like a small, round canister with a screw-on top. It’s located on the side of the engine, near the oil pan. In most cases, you’ll need a wrench to remove it. A good and experienced mechanic will always have a few tips and tricks up their sleeve for removing a stuck oil filter, but there are a few things you can try at home as well.

Why Do Oil Filters Get Stuck?

Before we actually get into how to remove a stuck oil filter, let’s take a quick look at why they get stuck in the first place. The most obvious conclusion is that an oil filter can become stuck due to corrosion. If an oil filter is left on for too long, corrosion can set in and make it very difficult to remove.

Also Read: 6 Easy Steps On How to Clean a Car Air Filter

However, in most cases, an oil filter becomes stuck because it wasn’t installed properly in the first place. 

1. Tightening it too much

Not screwing the oil filter on correctly is one of the most common reasons that they become stuck. This usually happens when someone tries to over-tighten the filter, thinking that it will somehow make it work better. A rookie mistake. In reality, all this does is make it harder to remove later on. The best way to avoid this problem is to simply follow the instructions on the oil filter box or, as a general rule, hand-tighten the filter until it’s snug and then give it an extra 1/3.

2. Not Lubricating the Rubber Seal

It makes all the difference in the world. A small amount of oil on the rubber seal will help to create a tight seal and make it easier to remove later. How this works is when oiled, the rubber seal won’t swell and bond with the metal as much when it comes into contact with the hot oil. This will help to prevent it from sticking and becoming stuck on the housing.

How to Remove Stuck Oil Filter

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There are a few different ways to remove a stuck oil filter, but here are the most common and effective methods.

1. Oil Filter Cap Wrench With WD-40 Method 

Good old WD-40. It’s not just for loosening rusty bolts; and it can also be used to remove a stuck oil filter. Just soak the area around the oil filter with WD-40 and let it sit for a few minutes.

After that, use an oil filter cap wrench to loosen the filter and then remove it by hand. Make sure to clean the area around the filter housing before applying the WD-40.

2. Oil Filter Pliers Or Chain/Strap Method 

To increase your chances of success, wipe down the oil filter to remove any oil or dirt before using a wrench. The only people this method works for are those with a screw-on canister oil filter and enough space around it to fit the wrench.

Start by slipping the chain or strap around the filter and over the ends of the pliers. After that, tighten the strap or chain until it’s snug, and then twist the oil filter counterclockwise.

3. Screwdriver Method

As a last resort, you can try to remove the oil filter with a screwdriver. This method is not recommended as it can easily damage the oil filter housing, but it’s worth a try if all else fails. To remove the oil filter, insert a large flat blade screwdriver into the side of the filter and turn it counterclockwise.

Hopefully, the oil filter separates cleanly and without too much effort. Things can very bad very quickly with this method, so use caution.

4. Unscrew with Sandpaper

Another way to remove a stuck oil filter is to use sandpaper. The goal here is to create enough friction between the oil filter and housing to loosen the filter. First, make sure that the area around the oil filter is clean.

Then take a sheet of sandpaper and rub it back and forth over the surface of the oil filter. Once you’ve created a good amount of friction, try to unscrew the filter again.

5 Tips for Removing a Stuck Oil Filter

Tips for Removing a Stuck Oil Filter

When attempting to remove a stuck oil filter, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of success.

Tip 1: Always Warm The Engine Before Starting

The most useful thing you can do is to warm up the engine before starting. This will help to loosen the oil and make it easier to remove the filter. The heat helps to break the seal between the oil filter and housing, making it easier to unscrew.

Tip 2: Soak The Base Of The Oil Filter With Penetrant Spray

By soaking the base of the oil filter with penetrant spray, you can help to loosen the bond between the filter and housing. This will make it easier to remove the filter without damaging it.

Tip 3: Use Some Coarse Sandpaper To Help Grip The Oil Filter

For added grip, you can use some coarse sandpaper to help remove the oil filter. Just wrap the sandpaper around the filter and twist it counterclockwise.

Tip 4: Use An Exact Fit Cap Wrench Filter Tool

In many cases where the oil filter is difficult to remove, an exact fit cap wrench filter tool will do the trick. Just make sure to get the right size for your oil filter before purchasing one.

Tip 5: Don’t Over-Tighten the New Oil Filter

One of the biggest mistakes people make is over-tightening the new oil filter. This can cause damage to the filter housing and make it difficult to remove the filter in the future. Just hand-tighten the filter until it’s snug, then stop.

Conclusion

If you find yourself with a stuck oil filter, there are a few things you can do to remove it. First, try using a penetrant spray to help loosen the bond between the filter and housing. If that doesn’t work, you can try using an oil filter wrench or a chain/strap method.

As a last resort, you can try to remove the oil filter with a screwdriver. Just be careful not to damage the filter housing in the process.

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