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Oil filter removal tips

Oil filter removal —Tips to make oil filter changes easier

Four basic types of oil filter wrenches for spin-on filters

oil filter wrenches

• Oil filter pliers wrench —  pros and cons


Many shops use an adjustable oil filter plier wrench. A single jet oil filter pliers wrenchplier wrench can handle many different filter sizes. As long as the filter wasn’t overtightened by the previous installer, this wrench works well and saves time.


If the filter is stuck and you use this wrench, you will crush the filter and turn the job into a disaster. Once you damage the can, the entire job changes. 

In many cases you have to peel the can off the base plate and then use a hammer and chisel to loosen the base plate. If you use pliers and you feel the can starting to crush, STOP and use a different tool.

CON: The long handle often prevents you from gaining full lateral leverage. In tight spaces, you’re actually twisting the tool rather than using the leverage of the long handles.

crushed oil filter







• Oil filter cup wrench


A cup wrench fits onto the flutes at the bottom of the oil filter oil filter cup wrenchand applies torque equally across the entire end of the filter. You insert a 3/8″ square drive ratchet into the cup wrench and turn from the bottom. If there’s not enough room for ratchet leverage, simply connect a 3/8″ drive extension to move the ratchet farther away from the cup.


There are no industry standards on the number of flutes or the size of the flutes. So two different brands of filters for the same engine can have a different size can and a different number of flutes. So you’ll need an assortment of cup sizes and flute counts.

cup wrench on filter

• Oil filter ratchet wrench


The Lisle oil filter ratchet wrench grabs the filter and Lisle oil filter ratchet wrenchrotates it without damaging the can, even if the filter was overtightened.

This is my go-to wrench. Two sizes fit almost every filter you’ll encounter. Insert a 3/8″ ratchet or extension bar into the wrench and slide it onto the bottom of the filter. It provides all the advantages of a cup wrench without needing a stable of cup wrenches.

Cons: None


• Oil filter band wrench


Great for filters in open spaces and which weren’t overtightened. Lisle swivel gripperAlthough, Lisle Tools offers band wrenches with permanent welding splatter on the band to provide extra gripping power to prevent slip. Purchase one with a swivel handle if you’re working in tight spaces.


You’ll need several sizes and even with a swivel handle, sometimes you just can get enough leverage to loosen a stuck filter.

Oil filter wrenches for cartridge filters

Most carmakers have moved away from spin-on filters and now use a cartridge filter that’s held in place by a cap. In every case, you MUST use the proper tool to remove the cap or you will damage the cap.

I’m not saying you have to buy the factory tool; you can buy an aftermarket tool for your engine. But don’t try and remove a cap with pliers or a band wrench.

wrenches for cartridges
Spin-on oil filter change tips

1) Always check the oil filter mounting check for stuck gasket

surface to make sure the old gasket came off.

2) If the filter mounts with the base plate facing up, pre-fill the oil filter with oil to reduce an extended oil light on startup.

pre fill oil filter

3) Lubricate the oil filter gasket with oil.

Fresh oil is best. Used oil is better than no oil.

Wet a finger and smear the oil over the face of the gasket, pressing down to ensure it’s seated in the O-ring groove.

lubricate the oil filter gasket
©, 2021 Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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