How to remove a stuck oil filter with oil filter pliers

Although oil filters should just be hand tight, sometimes they get too tight to remove without a tool. That’s where an oil filter removal tool such as oil filter pliers comes in handy.

What are oil filter pliers?

Oil filter pliers are a special type of pliers with metallic or rubber-coated jaws for removing oil filters. You can use them to remove a stuck oil filter from your car or truck if it is too tight for the hand. The pliers are also good for reaching filters that are in deep and tight positions where a hand cannot reach.

The jaws of the pliers are grooved or ridged to provide a tight grip on the filter. Some are also adjustable to accommodate a wide range of oil filter sizes. In addition, the pliers have long handles that allow you to get to very tight spaces. This oil filter tool is a perfect alternative for an oil filter wrench.

How to use oil filter pliers to remove spin-on oil filter

If you need to remove a stuck spin-on oil filter when changing the oil in your car, this is how to do it.

oil filter pliers gripping an oil filter
Gripping an oil filter with oil filter pliers

Step 1: Wear rubber or latex gloves to protect your hands from an oil spill

Step 2: Grab a pair of oil filter pliers. My favorite is the Tekton 12″ oil filter pliers.

Step 3: Open the handles to expand the jaws.

Step 4: Slide the jaws around the base of the fluted oil filter. If the opening is too small, slip the joint to a different pivot point to extend the jaws further. The fluted or ridged base of the oil filter canister provides a tight grip.

Step 5: Squeeze the handles of the pliers to have a good grip on the filter.

Step 6: Twist the pliers counterclockwise while squeezing the handles tightly together. The filter should budge and begin to open.

Step 7: Place a catch can underneath the filter to catch any oil.

Step 8: Continue ratcheting the pliers until the filter comes out completely. If the filter is not in a deep area, you can twist it by hand the moment it comes loose.

To install a new filter, just install and tighten it by hand until it is snug. No need to use a tool. However, if the installation stud is too deep to reach by hand, use the pliers. This time, ratchet in a clockwise direction, releasing the handles on the return swing.

Some pliers for removing oil filters have bare metals jaws while others have rubber jaws. The bare metal jaws can destroy the filter if you apply too much force. So be mindful of the amount of pressure you exert with the jaws especially when using the pliers to install a new filter.

Anyways, that is how to use pliers to remove an oil filter that will not come off without a tool. It works just as good as an oil filter wrench.

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Julio a.k.a Pliersman is the owner and creator of the Pliersman Website. A blog that informs and educates you about different types of pliers and their uses. Julio is a handy person and has used a variety of pliers including general-purpose and specialty pliers to accomplish tasks. He holds an electrical engineering degree and has previously worked as an O&M manager for minigrids where his love story with pliers and other tools began.