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Over-torqued oil filter housing

A mechanic who did oil change on my 2014 Toyota RAV4 today discovered the oil filter housing on the bottom of engine to be excessively over-tourqued by a mechanic who did my previous oil change at another shop. He could not get it off so could not replace the oil filter. His advice was to go to Toyota dealership for next oil change about 5 months later, and have them take care of it. Now what’s more screwy about this is, oil seems to be slightly leaking from bottom of the engine. It may be the mechanic might have slightly cracked the oil filter housing while trying to get it off.

Can the oil filter housing be removed without draining the engine oil? Should I just call some shops and ask if they can remove over-torqued oil filter housing? Thanks for your opinions.

Yes. …

The filter should be able to be removed and a new engine would be improbable. I would suggest doing it sooner than later, sinse it is leaking, in my mind there is a possibility the filter may fail catastrophically, leaving you with being stranded, or ruining your engine. A dealer or any competent mechanic should be able to perform the job.

The oil filter cover may have to be destroyed in order to remove it.

That’s why I would have an extra one on hand just in case.



Yes, the mechanic said the oil filter housing might have to be broken, and install a new one. If the oil filter housing has to be broken, can that mess up the threading in the metal casing of the engine? Will the engine oil drain when the oil filter housing is removed? The oil change before today’s oil change was 6 months ago (5 thousand miles ago) so oil filter in the housing is 6 months old, so if oil leak isn’t that much, couldn’t the oil filter go about 6 more months given new engine oil was put in today if that will not risk damaging the engine? I can top off the engine oil if it falls below low. As for the leak, it left about a penny size stain in my garage floor this evening. I should probably know better in the morning. If the leak from the possibly cracked oil filter housing isn’t too bad, and oil filter is about 6 months old and oil is new, is this something that should be addressed as soon as possible? It will be easier if I don’t have to rushing into replacing the oil filter and its housing as long as I’m not risking my engine

I absolutely cannot understand your reluctance to having this fixed. So the last oil change was 6 months ago and that is a good schedule to go by.

Well, thank you for your feedback. To get this fixed, I have to take unscheduled leave from my work which may not be feasible in my work situation. I have a scheduled day off coming up in about a week and half so if this problem can afford to wait about until then that will give me some time to consult with several shops, and will not affect my work situation. It may not be the oil filter housing that is leaking, and engine oil leaks are not uncommon from my observation. Is my car problem I’ve described more serious than I’m thinking? Should I treat this as an emergency that affect my safety?

Just keep an eye on the oil level until you can get it to a shop.



By the way, does anyone know if the engine oil will drain when the oil filter housing is removed?


The oil filter is above the oil pan.


This is getting more complicated than it should be. You just need and oil change. Have your mechanic remove the plastic oil filter housing and replace it with a new one. It should take no longer than a regular oil change. The plastic housings are readily available both from the dealer and through regular aftermarket parts stores and suppliers. I don’t know why the shop doing the oil change today didn’t simply replace it during the oil change service,

If removing it requires breaking it then so be it. The housing is plastic and the part it screws into is aluminum. There’s almost no possibility of damage other than needing a new $25 housing.


It’s possible the leak and the filter housing problem might not be related. It’s more likely you just need a new valve cover gasket or something like that. I’d be inclined to deal with this at the next oil change as your mechanic suggested, but I tend not to obsess about these things. I sometimes only change the filter with every other oil change.

To asemaster, thank you for your advice. If breaking the oil filter housing doesn’t drain the oil, then I shouldn’t even need an oil change as new oil was put in today. Right? I’ll go to another shop at my earliest and have them break that oil filter housing and replace it. While doing so, I’ll ask them to replace the oil filter in it. I guess the shop I went to today had mechanics in their 60s so they were not strong enough to undo the over-torque, and wasn’t comfortable with breaking it. My bad luck.

I’d be disinclined to return to this mechanic again. Overtorqued/stuck oil filters are common enough that a competent shop should be able to deal with it. A great many people overtorque oil filters.

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Yes, I guess I will stop my business with the shop I went to today, but here’s another question just for my learning purpose. The oil filter inside the oil filter housing was not turned because oil filter housing could not be removed. Even if the housing got slightly cracked, can engine oil leak when oil filter is not turned?

IF the filter housing is slightly cracked, it’ll usually be at the rolled seam between the canister and the base, usually caused by distortion of the canister during attempts to remove it. That kind of a failure could manifest itself as a “catastrophic failure”, i.e. the canister suddenly and completely separating from the base. The engine would suddenly and completely lose oil pressure… and damage would begin immediately, total engine destruction in minutes or less.

This NEEDS to be addressed.

To the_same_mountainbike, copy that. Then I have no choice but to take an unscheduled time off in the morning as a total engine destruction will cost at least several months of my wage… I guess I’ll never go to mechanics in their 60s in medium to small frames… By the way, new oil filter housing should be OEM to the fitting will seal the best?

If it were my car with that problem I’d want it fixed asap. I wouldn’t wait until the next oil change. In the meantime I’d be checking the engine dipstick before starting the engine every single time, and watching for the low oil pressure light on the dashboard all the time I was driving it. A major loss of oil incident could require a complete engine replacement, easily $6,000 or more in expense, plus loss of the vehicle’s use for weeks.

If you’re worried about the crankcase oil draining out as part of the oil filter repair, b/c it is nearly new oil and you don’t want to waste it or suffer the add’l expense of buying new oil, that’s no problem. If that’s a problem the shop can always drain it out into a clean pan, then pour it back in again after the repair is complete. I’ve done that before on both my truck and my Corolla, never had a problem. I line the catch pan with a plastic garbage bag liner so I know it is clean. If there’s any signs of debris that got in the oil in the process I’ll sieve it first. I don’t think oil will drain out the oil filter spot from the crankcase on either of my vehicles anyway, but there’s always some oil held in the filter area that drains out when the filter is removed.

Ummmmmm… that would exclude many of us here!

No need. I’ve never used OEM filters and never had a problem.
The key is that the filter should never be tightened with a wrench, only “wrist tight”. But, strangely, few people seem to know this. Oh, and the mounting surface should always be checked to ensure that the old gasket came off with the filter.

Perhaps filter manufacturers should put in large type on the filter “WRIST TIGHTEN ONLY”.

There is a special oil filter cap wrench for this filter that not only engages the flutes at the top, but the wings on the side. This one can remove the filter without breaking it, however in your case, that ship has prpbably already sailed.

I recommend that you go to the dealer and have them remove and inspect the filter housing. If it is cracked, then they should have a new on in stock. This is not the cheapest alternative but it is the most reliable.

It is possible that the O-ring just became unseated or torn when your current mechanic tried to remove the filter. BTW, you do not have to drain the oil to remove the filter, but the filter holds about a half quart of oil and that will be lost, so you may have to add some oil, maybe. Half quart down is no big deal.

This is the proper cap wrench. Your mechanic should get one if you plan on using him for all your oil changes. He probably has other Toyota customers too.