How to Use an Oil Filter Wrench

by C.L. Rease
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An oil filter casing hand-tightened during installation will tighten when the engine heats up and cools down. During the 3,000 to 5,000 miles between oil changes, the filter casing can tighten enough that a filter wrench is needed to remove it. Oil filter wrenches are available in many variations but two common styles are affordable and easy to find. Strap-style filter wrenches fit different-size filters and adjust to tighten on a casing. Socket-style wrenches fit a specified type and size of filter casing but require less room to operate than a strap-style wrench.

Prepare the Vehicle

Step 1

Set a ramp in front of each front tire of the vehicle. Drive your vehicle up the car ramps. Turn off the vehicle. Apply the parking brake. Place a wheel chock behind each rear tire of the vehicle. Allow the engine to cool for at least an hour.

Step 2

Slide a drain pan under the vehicle's oil pan. Remove the drain plug from the engine-oil pan with an open-end wrench. Allow the oil to drain from the engine-oil pan. Replace the drain plug. Tighten the plug with the open-end wrench.

Move the drain pan under the oil filter.

Strap-style Wrench Oil Filter Removal

Step 1

Slide the strap of the strap-style wrench over the oil filter casing with the back of the handle facing counterclockwise.

Step 2

Push the handle counterclockwise to release the oil filter casing from the engine. Pull the handle of the tool clockwise to rotate the handle if you run out of room to push the tool handle.

Step 3

Slide the strap-style wrench off of the oil filter casing.

Turn the oil filter wrench counterclockwise by hand to remove the filter casing from the engine.

Socket Filter Wrench Oil Filter Removal

Step 1

Push a socket filter wrench onto the bottom of the oil filter casing.

Step 2

Set a 3/8-inch ratchet handle to turn counterclockwise. Push the end of the ratchet handle into the socket of the socket filter wrench.

Step 3

Turn the ratchet handle counterclockwise until the oil filter casing loosens.

Spin the loosened filter casing counterclockwise by hand to remove it from the engine.

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