How to Remove Stuck Oil Filter

Generally, an oil change is an easy and quick process; however, that somewhat easy job is transformed into an entire project when the oil filter won’t come off. When this problem occurs, you begin to search for solutions to removing stuck oil filters and the issues that lead to a stuck oil filter.

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This article will highlight three methods to loosen your stuck oil filter quickly. You will also get advice on installing a new oil filter so it doesn’t get stuck.

Why Won’t the Stuck Filter Come Loose?

There are a couple of reasons your stuck oil filter isn’t coming off:

  • It could be that the oil filter was installed too tightly, creating a suction chamber the moment you start the engine. This causes the filter to become extremely difficult to uninstall.
  • It could also be because you didn’t put a super-thin layer of oil around the new filter’s O-ring. This can cause it to become stuck when removing it.

You shouldn’t use an oil filter wrench when installing your new filter. Rather, you should use just your hands to tighten it. Using a cap wrench or other tools could cause it to become stuck again.

How Should You Unscrew an Oil Filter?

Before highlighting all the methods to remove an old filter, it is important to note how to unscrew it properly. The last thing you want is to accidentally tighten the oil filter. Removing the filter means turning it counter-clockwise. When it comes to an oil filter and just about anything with thread, the general rule of right is tight, and left is loose applies.

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The first thing to observe if you think you are turning the filter incorrectly is if it isn’t getting easier to unscrew. If it is getting tighter, you are turning it the wrong way.

You might believe you could never make a mistake like this; however, some cars have the oil filter in strange positions where you need to control your body. This changes your point of view, making it difficult to face the oil filter head-on.

Methods to Use When Removing a Stuck Oil Filter

dirty man hands with engine oil

Once you discover your stuck oil filter isn’t coming off by hand, you will need to use the following options below. Each option has its use case, so take the time to assess the situation before you cause further damage to your vehicle.

Using a Hammer and Screwdriver

Sometimes, your stuck filter will begin to crush under the weight of it turning. When this occurs, the most effective way to get the oil filter off is by using a hammer and screwdriver.

You should note that this method isn’t always the easiest, especially if your oil filter is placed in a hard-to-reach spot. You should also bear in mind that this process can get quite messy. To help abate this, you should have at least one oil pan ready and a couple of PIG mats on standby.

All you have to do is hammer your flathead screwdriver through the old filter. Once the screwdriver is fully through the filter body, you can use the screwdriver to turn and eventually pull the old oil filter off.

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The key to this method is to completely drive your screwdriver as high as possible on the old oil filter. Doing this can help reduce the danger of the filter shearing off. Should the filter begin to shear off, you stop at that moment and use an oil filter wrench instead.

Ensure that your oil filter wrench is wrapped as high as possible around the filter. If the stuck filter doesn’t come off for whatever reason, you can switch to the screwdriver to shear off the rest of the filter.

Once this is done, you can use a hammer and vice grips to get the remainder of the stuck oil filter off. You should note that this process isn’t easy, so you should only shear the filter base as your last option.

Using Sandpaper to Unscrew

This option is great for those who don’t want to spend much money. All you have to do is wrap some sandpaper around the oil filter. This trick is quite useful because it works even in extremely hard-to-reach places.

Furthermore, most people tend to have a bit of sandpaper lying around, making it an extremely inexpensive method. The additional grit the sandpaper provides holds the filter better, enabling you to remove it.

Using an Oil Filter Wrench

An oil filter wrench is designed for one job only – to remove oil filters. You can get an oil filter wrench in numerous sizes. This method is especially useful if your oil filter is placed in a hard-to-reach spot. It can also be useful if you need additional grip and power to remove your filter.

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Some oil filter wrenches come with rugger grippers that can cause them to slip off. If this happens, you can place a sandpaper ring to provide additional grip.


The methods mentioned above are the three most effective ways to remove a stuck oil filter. You should always remember that the screwdriver method should be seen as a last resort. This method is capable of shearing the old oil filter, causing more issues when trying to replace it with a new filter.

Nevertheless, with this article as a guide, you should have no issues removing a stuck oil filter and replacing it with a new one.

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