Help, can't remove oil filter

I’ve always changed my own oil and filter, but recently I bought a used car and when I attempted to remove the filter I couldn’t budge it. I’ve even bought 2 different oil filter wrenches and while they grip the filter, they just slip around when I put pressure on them. Does anyone have any tip or suggestion on how to get this thing loose. I’m afraid if I get too agressive with it I’ll end up damaging it and making matters worse. I guess my last restort is to just bite the bullet and go to an oil change place. I’d

appreciate ANY advice. Thanks

By the way the car is a 2005 Toyota Matrix.

First off, don’t use the slip on kind, use the socket type that fits on the end of the filter and use a ratchet. They won’t slip and you can get plenty of leverage with the ratchet. If it just bends up and collapses, worst case is you have to punch a screwdriver through it to get it off. Someone obviously didn’t put oil on the gasket before putting it on.

3 possibilities for you and you WILL get it removed.

  1. Pipe wrench if you can find the room for it. The housing will crush a little but simply tighten the pipe wrench.

  2. Stab a large screwdriver through the filter using a hammer and then use the screwdriver as a lever.

  3. Hammer and chisel method. Use the chisel along the rolled crimp at the bottom of the filter. Be careful not to damage the gasket surface on the filter mount.

Be sure to turn in the correct direction to loosen which would be CCW.

Or the oil hasn’t been changed in a few years…

I’d just like to mention that I have never, ever seen the screwdriver trick actually work. If the filter is on so tight that other means didn’t work, it just tears up the filter and makes things worse.

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I have used the screwdriver technique and it worked for me, But I am sure it has it’s limits. If you can get the oil filter wrench or a strap wrench on the bottom of the filter near the engine on that 3/32? metal plate near the engine go for that!

The screwdriver method s****. You will end up with a hulk of a filter that leaks all over you while you are trying to get the rest off. A tool that grips the filter tightly at its base (so it is less likely to cave it in)is best.

This might be one of the few cases where going to a national chain for an oil change has a certain appeal. They’ll have a tool that will get that old filter off and they won’t put the new filter on impossibly tight.

Just don’t let them talk you into ANY other work.

BTW, the screwdriver method often works, but access to the oil filter on many modern vehicles is really poor. I’d give some thought to what Plan B is before I hammered a screwdriver into an oil filter on many modern cars. If the screwdriver just rips the top off the filter, what are you going to do next?

My main “oil filter wrench” for 99% of the cars I’ve changed oil on is a 16" pair of channel lock pliers I bought at Sears back in the early 70s.

It only doesn’t work if space doesn’t allow access to the filter with the channel locks.

I use those big channel locks for lots of things,wouldn’t be without them. You know when I say these things I am talking about the past as I am not currently employed as a auto mechanic and never will be again. Still there are things to do around the house.

I would try something like this. The harder you turn it, the harder it grips.

I did the ‘chisel’ it off with a big old screwdriver for decades.

Last week I discovered that my pipe-wrench works perfectly.

I like what Henry Ford was reported to have said: If you say it can’t be done, you are right. You can’t do it!

Most pros use a 16" water pump pliers for the spin-on filters. I think the filter housing on most spin-ons are too thin to use the screw driver punched through method. Like most here have experienced, the housing just tears.
The socket type filter wrenches work well when you bump them with an air wrench. Make sure you just break it loose or this can get messy.
I almost always pre-drain the filters old hot oil by punching a hole with awl prior to removing.
It is VERY common to over tighten an oil filter. Make sure to lube the rubber gasket.

If you have two slip-on wrenches, why not try them both at once? You might be able to get twice the leverage. If this doesn’t work several excellent alternative method have been suggested.

I had a filter that was stuck and in frustration, I removed my belt and wrapped it around the filter. As I pulled on my belt, it wrapped itself tighter around the filter and suddenly the filter broke free. Use a wide belt. I’ve relegated one of my old belts to remove oil filters.

I was going to suggest the never-fail 16" Channel Locks but a few of you have covered that base already. I agree wholeheartedly; they work when all else fails.

I think what worked for me was to fill up with oil, and go for a run. I’m guessing this helped by heating everything up. Maybe you can get the same effect with a heat gun?

Gee, Daniel they probably have the filter off by now.

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I’ve seen it work, but it made a Godawful mess.

I’ve used all types of filter wrenches over the years, and in my own experience I’ve found these two to be the best. This isn’t a scientific study, only an opinion based on over 1/2 century of changing oil. The key to both is that the harder you turn, the tighter they get around the filter.

Actually, that isn’t completely accurate. I have a filter wrench I bought many years ago that’s a helically spiraled spring that wraps multiple times around the filter and gets tighter as you go. But I’ve been unable to find one in modern filter sizes. I’ll take a photo and post it.


Here. I got it out of my kit and photographed it for you. If you can find one of these to fit your filter, I guarantee it’ll work. It tightens up unbelievably as you turn the wrench. And if you do find one, please let me know where. I’ve been looking for one to fit the modern smaller filters for years.

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