How to Remove a Stubborn Oil Filter

Updated: Jan. 24, 2023

Add a strip of coarse sandpaper to stop filter wrench slipping and remove a stuck oil filter

how to remove a stuck oil filterFamily Handyman
Get a better grip on stuck oil filters by adding a strip of coarse sandpaper to your oil filter wrench...or buy a special high-grip wrench.

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Get a better oil filter grip

Oil Filter Remover: Add grit to get a better grip on a stuck oil filter

Slice a strip of coarse-grit adhesive-back sandpaper and slip it inside a band-style filter wrench. Then remove the adhesive liner and press it into place.

Oil Filter Remover: Get a filter wrench with built-in grip

Slide a Swivel-Gripper filter wrench toward the base of the filter. Rotate the handle to force the grit into the metal. Then swivel the handle and twist off the filter.

We’ve all done it—overtightened an oil filter so much that it’s a bear to remove. If you think you can remove it by jamming a long screwdriver through the can and twisting, think again. The screwdriver will just rip the can open and you’ll be drenched in oil. When you’re done dealing with that mess, the filter will still be stuck and you’ll be even more frustrated.

How to Remove a Stuck Oil Filter

To remove a stuck filter, use a band-type wrench that you’ve lined with coarse-grit adhesive-back sandpaper (top photo). Or spray adhesive on the back of conventional sandpaper. Better yet, buy a filter wrench with coarse grit welded to the inside of the band (bottom photo). The Lisle Swivel-Gripper No-Slip filter wrenches are available in five sizes and cost about $16. They are available at Slide the filter wrench band all the way down near the base of the filter. Then tighten it and twist.

Required Tools for this how to remove a stuck oil filter project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Utility knife

Required Materials for this how to remove a stuck oil filter project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • Adhesive-backed sandpaper