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How to Remove a Stuck Oil Filter After Automotive School

Published on July 1, 2021 by in Blog, CATI

Auto mechanic service and repair

The oil filter in a vehicle performs a basic but essential function: filtering the oil to remove particles of dirt, metal, or debris. Contaminated oil can damage the engine, leading to an increased risk of a major breakdown. Over time, the oil filter becomes clogged and is no longer able to properly filter the oil. For that reason, it is advisable to replace the oil filter at every oil change. By replacing the oil filter, you can ensure that the oil is properly filtered and that the car is operating safely.

While changing the oil filter is a straightforward service, a mechanic may find that the oil filter becomes stuck, often due to over-tightening or a lack of lubrication. In that case, some additional steps will need to be taken. Here’s a closer look at how to remove a stuck oil filter in cars. 

Removing an Oil Filter By Hand

For professionals in auto mechanic careers, it’s worth trying to loosen the oil filter by hand before moving on to other tools. It’s important to wear dry gloves with a non-slip grip so that you can get a firm hold on the oil filter. Before attempting to loosen the filter, you should turn the engine on to warm the oil. This will help the oil to flow more easily while breaking the seal between the oil filter and the engine block. In that case, take care when handling hot filters by hand. Once you have replaced the oil filter, you should be able to tighten it again by hand so as to prevent any leaks.

Those in auto mechanic careers should know how to remove an oil filter manually

Those in auto mechanic careers should know how to remove an oil filter manually

Using Specific Tools

You may find the oil filter is too tight to unscrew by hand. In that case, specific tools such as oil filter pliers or an oil filter cap wrench should help to remove it. Pliers grip around the oil filter and allow you to untwist it. You may find that you cannot sufficiently reach the filter with your hand or pliers. In that case, consider using an oil filter cap wrench. These work by attaching directly on top of the oil filter and gripping the filter to loosen it. Alternatively, if the oil filter is fitted inside of an oil filter housing, the cap wrench can be used to remove the lid from the oil housing. 

Those in automotive school may find the latter method easier, as the wrench can apply a much greater force to loosen the oil filter. Whichever tool you choose, you should pay attention not to crush the cylinder when applying grip and pressure to the filter.   

Use specialized tools to get a firmer grip on stubborn oil filters

Use specialized tools to get a firmer grip on stubborn oil filters

Tips For Preventing a Stuck Oil Filter After Mechanic College

After removing the stuck oil filter, you’ll want to minimize the chance of it happening again. The best way to do so is by ensuring that you don’t overtighten the new filter. You should only tighten the canister by hand so that it fits snugly within the engine block. Only use a tool to do a final turn if you cannot access the space with your hand. Another important step is lubricating the gasket with some oil. After cleaning the surface of the oil filter sealing, apply a fresh coat of engine oil to prevent sticking in the future. Some oil filters may be pre-lubricated for easier maintenance. By following these tips, you can ensure that you offer an efficient and durable service to your clients.  

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