Automotive oil filters are not supposed to be put on with wrenches. They should only ever be put on hand-tightened or you may never get them off again. The bad thing is that sometimes the oil filter put on at the factory feels like it's been put on with an impact wrench. And, sometimes no matter how hard you try, you just cannot get that old filter off with your hands.
Here are a few tips to help ease your frustration and keep you from damaging your car in the process.
- Get a good quality adjustable oil filter wrench - this one will solve 90% of all problems getting your old oil filter off. Be sure to look for one that is adjustable in diameter so it will fit your oil filter, and will actually be able to fit into the spot you need to get your filter out of. The bad news is that there are still going to be times when you won't be able to get the filter off even with the filter wrench.
- The old long screwdriver trick - this one's been around for ages. If you don't have an oil filter wrench, or you wrench just keeps slipping around the filter but not actually loosening it, you still have hope. You have to be careful here not to do damage to your car, but if you're careful, it can work out great. What you need is a long screwdriver and a small hammer. The steel shaft of the screwdriver needs to be long enough to go completely through one side of the oil filter and out the other. If it's not long enough, you'll end up in trouble. What you do is put the tip of the screwdriver in the middle of one side of the oil filter, and tap the end with a small hammer until the screwdriver pierces the skin of the filter. Be sure to do this towards the end of the filter away from where it attaches to the engine, otherwise you risk damaging the nipple that the filter threads to. You're going to get a good bit of oil draining out when you pierce the skin. Just sit back and let it drain. It's much easier if you don't have oil dripping all over you. Once the oil has drained, continue tapping on the screwdriver until the top pierces through the other side of the filter. You should now have a screwdriver all the way through the filter. Now, just use the handle of the screwdriver to twist the filter out.
- One last tip, when you put the new filter on, be sure to rub a small amount of oil on the new seal, and only tighten it with your hands. Spin it on the nipple until it stops spinning freely, and then turn it another 1/4 to 1/2 turn by hand until it's tight. That'll make it much easier to get off next time.