How to Remove a Stuck Oil Filter : Expert Tips

Every now and then, we have to deal with an oil filter that is too stubborn to get out of the engine bay. Now, we will help you understand how to remove a stuck oil filter. This problem is more common than you may believe, and the first thing you need to know and remember is to stay calm. If you get upset, you will lose your temper, and you will fail to complete your task. Luckily there are a lot of useful things you try and pull the oil filter out.

What is an oil filter?

oil filter removal hack

An oil filter is usually a black cylinder shape part found on all vehicles. Some old motorcycles may have a filter insert that is present inside the engine. The oil filter location is almost always the same. It is located on the bottom part of the engine and, in most cases, on the front end. The best way to access it is from the front of a car.

The oil filter working principle is relatively simple. It contains mesh made from industrial paper with tiny holes. The oil will be pushed through that mesh and filtered. As a result, all particles, sludge, and metal fragments will be trapped inside a filter. Clean oil is pushed back into the engine, and it can continue lubricating the moving parts of the engine. All oil filters work in the same way despite the difference in size, design, and shape.

Eventually, the oil filter will lose its filtration properties. This occurs as the side effect of trapping the tiny particles and dirt. When this happens, the oil filter won’t be as efficient as needed. It refers to the inability to fully filter the oil, which then means that dirty oil will circulate through the engine. If that happens, the friction particles will affect moving parts and can damage them.

An oil filter must be replaced with every oil change. It may be available in the kits, or you will have to purchase one additionally. In both cases, always purchase and use an oil filter that is recommended by the car manufacturer. It ensures the best filtration and safety.

It is important to add that if your car suffered a major or minor engine failure, which involved broken parts and tiny metal particles, you will have to replace the filter after fixing the problem. If not, those particles will clog the filter and make it useless. Furthermore, you can cause major engine damage. Also, you need to replace the oil as well. Keep in mind that in the case of head gasket failure, when the coolant reaches the cylinders, you need to fix the problem and then replace the oil filter and change the oil. The oil in the moment of failure is contaminated and will cause even bigger damage.

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Importance of oil filter

Before we explain how to get a stuck oil filter off, we need to explain the main purpose and the importance of this small part. All of the benefits apply to the cartridge oil filter as well. So let’s start.

The first and main purpose of the oil filter is, as the name suggests. It should filter oil and make sure there is no dirt, metal particles, or debris left. All of those can damage the engine and cause a massive malfunction. When you replace an oil filter, you will make sure that the oil is properly filtrated and that there is no dirt, smudge, or anything similar in the oil. This makes the car operate much safer, and you will eliminate the risk of a malfunction. If you don’t replace the oil filter, the oil will become too “dirty’’ and will cause damage. This happens because, over time, an oil filter becomes clogged, and it is unable to properly filter the oil.

A proper oil filter, suitable for your car, can prevent damage in another way as well. If your engine has a malfunction that involves damaged Engine parts or broken components, the metal particles will be trapped inside a filter so they won’t be able to reach moving parts and cause another damage. To get the best protection, always use the oil filter specifications recommended by your car manufacturer. Also, always use a high-quality oil filter. It is still an affordable purchase, but it will make a massive difference. An interesting fact is that a high-quality oil filter will cost you $10, while a poorly made one will cost you $7. Damage caused by a clogged oil filter will cost thousands to repair.

Here we must add that a proper filter won’t break over time and clog other pipes and parts in the engine. This is common with low-quality filters.

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over tightened oil filter

Why do oil filters get stuck?

An oil filter will get stuck sometimes. There are several reasons why this happens, and we will discuss each one. It is important to add that you should not try removing the oil filter with a screwdriver. The metal shell is made from this material, so the oil filter will be bent and broken, but you won’t be able to remove it. The thing is even worse if we know that a damaged oil filter cannot be removed with proper tools either, which makes a simple task a catastrophe. Oil filter stuck crushed is extremely complicated to remove, and you cannot drive your car without it. Anyway, let’s see why oil filters do stick sometimes.

Tightening it too much

In order to properly understand tips on removing a stuck oil filter, you need to know which mistakes to avoid. The first and most common is tightening the oil filter too much. Ideally, you will oil the rubber seal, and you will tighten it using your hands only. Then use the tool to tighten it an additional 1/3, and you are done. It won’t leak, but it will be able to remove easily during the next Engine oil Change.

When you tighten it too much, the rubber seal will eventually become a gasket that glues the oil filter to the housing. In that case, it is very difficult to break that seal and remove the oil filter. Usually, beginners make this mistake, and now you know how to prevent it.

Not Lubricating the Rubber Seal

The rubber seal on the oil filter must be lubricated before mounting the filter. This is mandatory due to two reasons. The first one is to make a much better seal between the housing and the oil filter, and the second one is to be able to easily remove it when needed.

If you have ever tried to remove the stuck oil filter, you know how difficult and problematic this is. By oiling the rubber seal, you will make sure that this doesn’t happen. When oiled, the rubber seal won’t blend it between the metal, so it won’t glue two surfaces together. This may sound strange for some of you, but all mechanics do this, and it is extremely important.

These are the two most common reasons why you cannot take off the oil filter. It is important to know that all oil filters have the same type of threads as regular bolts.  You should twist it counterclockwise to remove it.

Needed tools:

How to remove a stuck oil filter

Now is the time to help you remove the oil filter, which is stuck in your car and won’t come off. You can use many different methods, including removing oil filters with a belt, chain, or something else. As we have mentioned, avoid using a screwdriver for this purpose. It won’t work, but it will damage the oil filter so you won’t be able to remove it using proper tools afterward. Now is the time to present to you the steps you need to follow.

which way to turn oil filter to remove

Lift the front end of a car

The first thing we will reveal is that trying to remove oil filters without a wrench is extremely difficult and, in some cases, even impossible. But, let’s start with the complete guide. The first thing you have to do is to lift the front part of the car. The oil filter is located on the bottom part of the engine and usually on the front side. Without a carjack, you won’t be able to reach the oil filter, and as such, you won’t be able to change it.

Place the car jack on the specific spot specified by the car manufacturer and lift the car. If you have a hydraulic car jack, you can use it as well. After you are done, secure the car. You can use anything literally to make it secure, and it won’t fall on your head.

Locate the oil filter

Take a closer look at the engine, and you will see the oil filter. It is usually black or blue, and it is round. If your car doesn’t have a part of this kind, then you may have a cartridge that is completely covered. Anyway, you should see the ‘’oil’’ written on some components, and it will be black, in most cases.

Regular Car Maintenance involves changing oil and oil filters every 5000 miles. If you are a serious car lover and you like maintaining your car, we believe you already know where the oil filter is located. If you are one of them, you can move to the next step. If you are not, use the internet to find the location.

Wipe it down

Before moving to the next step, it is advised to clean the oil filter and the surrounding area. It isn’t important if the oil filter is dirty or if there is a lot of grease on it. Clean the top part only where it connects the engine. This is important simply because you don’t want debris and dirt reaching the new oil filter and the inside of the engine. There is no other reason why you need to clean it.

Keep in mind that this should be performed before you remove the old oil filter. If you remove it and then clean your risk contaminating the new oil and new oil filter, which is something you need to avoid. Once you are ready and the surfaces are clean move to the next step.

Try using oil filter pliers

The first actual step for removing the stuck oil filter is to use oil filter pliers. They are the most affordable alternative here, and basically, they look like ordinary pliers with two spikes. They will go around the oil filter, and you will be able to twist it. Make sure you have a lot of grips when doing this and take your time.

Most of the time, this will be enough, and you will take off the oil filter without major issues. Keep in mind that once you are done, you can replace it and can change the oil.

The best part of this step is versatility. The pliers we have mentioned can be used for oil filters of different sizes, and they will last for decades. The only drawback is the fact the pliers won’t be able to provide a superb level of grip sufficient for you twisting the oil filter. If this happens and you still can’t remove the old oil filter, move to the next step.

You will also use this method if your oil filters da doesn’t have a square end on the bottom. It cannot be paired with the oil filter cup, meaning you will have to use pliers. Almost all modern filters do have this part, but some of them don’t. The matter cannot be generalized.

Use a Filter cup wrench

This comes in a Tools set, and you will get a case with multiple cups. Each cup is made for a specific size oil filter, and you can easily find the one that is just right for you. Using the wrench, you can apply a much higher force to remove the oil filter. This is the main reason why this method works in most cases, and it even works when nothing else helps.

Because you will get multiple cups in the case, you can use it for all kinds of cars and vehicles. It is important to know that there are oil filters of similar sizes. They must not be confused, and you must not use a larger cup. It will damage the oil filter so you won’t be able to take it off. The cup goes on the bottom part of the oil filter, and you will see the changed shape of the oil filter that can accommodate the cup. Most filters have this, and it is used precisely for this reason.

There is no need to add that you will remove the oil filter using this oil filter removal tool. It is an extremely affordable and helpful tool set you definitely need to own. They come in a case as we have mentioned earlier so you can carry it in your trunk or you can store it easily. Don’t forget that you can use it for multiple tools, and if you have a workshop, you will need the set in question. Make sure that the desired unit is made from metal and not some softer material.

When choosing this type of tool, you can either get the complete set, something we recommend, or you can get a single cup. A single cup is obviously more affordable, but it can be used on one-size oil filters only. Purchasing all the ups separately and creating your own set is the most expensive alternative you can think of.

Use three leg oil filter adapter wrench

If you have an oil filter cartridge, it means that you cannot accede to it from the outside. What this means is that you have a massive cover with some threads. To remove it and gain access to the oil filter cartridge, you need three leg oil filter adapter. It looks as you can imagine, and it will help you take off the oil filter in question. Yes, you can still use it for conventional oil filters, but this isn’t its major purpose.

We can add that when the oil filter doesn’t come off, you need to check the state of it and the upper part. Maybe there is damage or an additional screw that holds it in place. Anyway, with, these steps, you can remove any oil filter you want, and there won’t be any complications.

There are two main types of these tools. The first type is a fixed type that cannot be adjusted and can be used for one size of oil filter only. The second type allows you to adjust the width of the legs and use it for oil filters of different sizes. We prefer the second type due to its added practicality and the ability to use it for different vehicles.

Read: Easiest Way How to Remove Stuck Oil Drain Plug

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Which way do you turn an oil filter to loosen it?

Ans: You will have to twist it counterclockwise. This applies to all oil filters regardless of the type, size, and vehicle. To tighten it, you will turn it clockwise. Make sure you use a suitable cup for your wrench to twist it properly.

Q: Can I change the oil without changing the oil filter?

Ans: Yes and no. You can make this type of oil change, but it is not recommended. As we have mentioned, the oil filter will be clogged over time, and its ability to filter the oil will be decreased. All of this suggests that oil will be returned to the engine with dirt and metal particles, which can damage the engine. A new oil filter is definitely a worthy investment that can prevent far more expensive malfunctions.

Q: Are oil filter wrenches Universal?

Ans: Yes, they are. Keep in mind that we are referring to sets that include oil filter wrench cups. A set will contain around ten units that can be used for all types of oil filters. The situation is the same when it comes to oil filter pliers and wrenches that use chains.

Q: How do you make an oil filter wrench?

Ans: You can make a simple wrench of this kind using the chain from an old bike. Use a metal rod and connect the chain to the rod in one place. Then place the chain around the oil filter and secure the chain on the rod again. Now all you have to do is to twist the wrench.

Q: Do I need an oil filter wrench?

Ans: If you like maintaining your car or you have a workshop, you need this type of wrench. It is an affordable investment that can help you decrease the time you need to complete an oil change., Also, you will get a wrench suitable for multiple cars and vehicles, and you can use it as long as needed.

Q: What’s the best oil filter removal tool?

Ans: The best tool is the cup oil filter set. It helps you use the most force to remove the oil filter, and it is suitable for all sizes and kinds. These sets are considered to be the best option and the most professional due to the fact they won’t damage the shell of the filter, they are easy to use, and they are very strong.


“You still want to know how to remove a stuck oil filter”? Probably no. We helped you by revealing all the main points and less-known facts you need to consider. This can be a time-consuming problem if you don’t have a suitable tool mentioned above. If you do have it, then you will need just a couple of minutes, and you are done. Always remember that an oil filter should be replaced each time you change the oil, and it will make sure your car lasts for ages. It is the most affordable maintenance that has a huge effect on the t6eh engine of your car.

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Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

2 thoughts on “How to Remove a Stuck Oil Filter : Expert Tips

  1. Thanks for your Query. If Your Car Oil Filter holder Threat is okay and there are no Cracks or damages, you can only change the oil filter. After refeeding the holder with a filter, you should check the positions of the holder with the connection of the engine block. If there are any leakages of engine oil, the filter holder should be replaced.

  2. I recently changed my oil and filter on a 2015 Acura ILX. However, when I removed the filter, the oil filter holder came off with the filter. Is there any reason why it would have come off with the filter? Should I replace the holder with a new one?

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