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How To Remove a Stuck Oil Filter

March 18, 2024 | Victor Lukasso

Changing engine oil is one of the most straightforward service jobs you can carry out on your car, but the oil filter could sometimes get stuck and seem impossible to remove.

The problem of an oil filter being stuck is more common than you may think, and the first thing you need to know is to stay calm when this happens, as it is the best thing you can do.

Lucky for you, you could do many things to pull out an oil filter that is stuck. In this article, I will teach you how to remove a stuck oil filter.

What is an Oil Filter?

An oil filter is usually a black cylinder-shaped component found on all vehicles and is designed to remove contaminants from engine oil and transmission oil.

Back in the day, some bikes had oil filters inside their engines. It is usually always located on the bottom part of the engine and, in most cases, on the front end, and the best way to access it is from the front of a car.

Usually, an oil filter should be replaced with every oil change. It may come together with the kits, or you would have to make an additional purchase. Either way, always use oil filters that the car manufacturer recommends, as it ensures the best filtration and safety.

Why Does an Oil Filter Get Stuck?

An oil filter could get stuck sometimes because of several reasons, which I would discuss some such as:

1. Lack of Lubrication of the Rubber Seal

Two reasons make it very important for the rubber seal on the oil filter to be lubricated before mounting the filter.

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The first reason is to make a much better seal between the housing and the oil filter, and the second is to remove it when needed quickly. By oiling the rubber seal, you will make removing it easier when needed.

2. Tightened Too Much

When you tighten the oil filter excessively, the rubber seal will eventually become a gasket that glues the oil filter to the housing, making it very difficult to break that seal and remove it when needed.

Beginners usually make this mistake, but the ideal way to install an oil filter is by

  • Oiling the rubber seal and making sure you will tighten it using your hands only.
  • You can further use a tool to fasten it tierce.
  • It won’t leak and can be removed easily during the following Engine oil Change.

How to Remove a Stuck Oil Filter

Here are a few tested and trusted ways to remove stuck oil filters

1. Oil Filter Pliers Or Chain/Strap Method

The fastest and most conducive process to get rid of a stuck oil filter is by;

  • Warm up the engine
  • Spray the bottom of the filter with Rust removal (WD-40) before administering a wrench for the removal of the filter,
  • Wipe the filter with a rag and fit the cap wrench to the top of the filter
  • Then using a socket wrench, slowly turn the filter anti-clockwise to remove it.

However, there are other ways, such as sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do; the filter will start to crush before it twists off. If this is the case with you, the alternative to removing your filter is the following procedure.

2. Use a Screwdriver and a Hammer

This isn’t always easy; depending on the oil filter’s location, and also keep in mind that it will make a mess, you will need to get a bowl to accumulate oil leakage from the filter.

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Hammer a long flathead screwdriver directly through the old oil filter and turn the screwdriver once it is entirely through the oil filter, and there should be enough force to pull off the old filter.

Drive the screwdriver through as high as possible on the old filter, as this reduces the risk of the old filter shearing off.

If the above step doesn’t get rid of the oil filter, you can get a filter wrench, attach it around the filter, and follow the next step.

3. Oil Filter Cap Wrench With WD-40 Method

This method could be used when the oil filter is difficult to grip or locate. Depending on your choice of oil filter cap wrench.

The first type fits directly on the top of the oil filter, gripping the filter so it can be loosened, while the second type is used for paper oil filters inside it.

  • Firstly, use the cap wrench to get rid of the head of the filter casing
  • Get the engine warmed up by driving the car around for some minutes; this will aid in easy filter removal
  • Then spray the base of the oil filter with some WD-40 to help to loosen it.
  • Wipe down the filter with a rag and fit the cap wrench to the top of the filter.
  • Slowly turn the filter anti-clockwise to remove using a socket wrench.

Helpful Tips While Changing Your Oil Filter.

1. Always use An Exact Fit Cap Wrench Filter Tool

Endeavor to get the exact fit for your oil filter; it’s the one that covers the whole without the need for any adjustment. Once your engine is warmed up with the help of a spray, the oil filter won’t hesitate to come off.

2. Do not over-Tighten The New Oil Filter

Using a tool while fitting a new oil filter is not advised. Make sure you use your hand to tighten oil filters at the first installation.

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If it’s in a tight space and you can’t get access with your hand, only use the tool to give it one final quarter turn, and then you are done.

3. Always Warm The Engine Before Starting

Try warming up the engine each time before changing it, as this will not only make the oil flow easier but can help break the seal between the oil filter and the engine block.

4. Soak The Base Of The Oil Filter With Penetrant Spray

Make sure you soak oil into the rust remover solution before using any of the above methods to remove it.

Stuck Oil Filter FAQs

Can I Change the Oil Without Changing the Oil Filter?

Yes, you can change this oil, but it is not recommended. As mentioned earlier, this could cause the oil filter to be clogged over time, reducing the ability to filter the oil. As this happens, the oil will be returned to the engine with dirt and metal particles, which can damage the engine.

How Do I Turn an Oil Filter to Loosen It?

You must twist it counterclockwise, which applies to all oil filters regardless of the type, size, and vehicle. Turning to the left to tighten an oil filter while using the recommended wrench cup would be best.


Changing a stuck oil filter can be time-consuming, especially if you don’t have a suitable tool. But if you do have it, you will need just a couple of minutes to finish it.

Remember, an oil filter should be replaced each time you change the oil because it is the most affordable maintenance that significantly affects your car’s engine as it reduces damage and ensures that your vehicle lasts longer.

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Meet Victor Lukasso, the owner of V. Auto Basics. Through this blog, Victor Provides Insights on the latest tips, maintenance, repair, and techniques in the automotive world.