Which Way To Turn Oil Filter – Solutions For Over Tightening

Are you tired of a stuck seal in your car’s engine bay and confused about which way to turn oil filter loose? Don’t worry, as this simple task will be solved in this writing.

The information below is so comprehensive that beginners or amateurs can understand how this component functions and the solutions when it is over-secured.

There are also recommendations for tools that you should purchase for optimal repair.

Oil Filter Review

Which Way To Turn Oil Filter


Oil filter housing usually has a cylinder shape with black color, which is a crucial component in vehicles. Its location might vary in cars with different make and model.

Some can be accessible from below the engine, while some can be accessed from above.

In some other cases, the manufacturers design a cover to shield the filter, so you need to remove it first. Anyway, the most effective method to access this element is from the front of the vehicle.

It is advised to have your oil filter replaced after each oil change to guarantee safety and superior filtration.


Before getting to know how to take off the oil filter, it is important to understand how this component functions.

Firstly, the main use of the oil filter is to eliminate the dirt or metal particles and even debris left in the oil. Make sure that you have had the oil filtered before replacing the filter.

Thus, your car will run more smoothly while reducing the risk of malfunction.

When it comes to dirty oil change, there are problems like transmission slipping or the filter will get clogged soon, and its function will be affected.

The oil filter also reduces the effect of broken elements on the others. Particularly, when an engine part is damaged, there are possibly metal particles shooting out.

The filter will trap them inside, stopping them from damaging other components.

Moreover, a high-quality oil filter is worth your investment as it provides better function and requires less repair.

A low-quality one even costs you more for maintenance due to regular breakup or clogging.

Why Oil Filter Won’t Unscrew

Tightening It Too Much

Oversecuring is the main reason why you are in trouble with how to remove oil filter.

The best technique is tightening by hands and then making an additional one-third tighter by a tool. Not only can the filter stay fixed, but it will also be loosened the next time effortlessly.

Meanwhile, when this component is overtightened, the rubber seal will then glue it to the engine body as a gasket.

As a result, the seal is hard to move or break. This problem usually happens to amateurs or beginners. 

Not Lubricating The Rubber Seal

Remember to lubricate the rubber seal before mounting, as the solid contact between the filter and engine body will engage without sticking.

Furthermore, the grease will help the oil filter turn left or right for removal easily.

Without proper lubrication, two metal surfaces of the seal and the housing would be glued together. It results in sticking or breaking, with minor particles dropping out during the removal.

Which Way To Turn Oil Filter

In short, the answer to how to take off a oil filter is to turn it counterclockwise. When it comes to components with helix or threads, there is a rule to follow: righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.

It means you need to turn them towards the right hand to tighten and the left hand to remove.


Can you remove oil filter by hand? Definitely not when it is over secured. Thus, there are some fundamental tools to prepare:

  • Cloth
  • Oil socket wrench
  • Filter cup wrench
  • Oil filter pliers
  • Three-leg wrench adapter

Method 1: Use an Oil Filter Wrench

Use an Oil Filter Wrench

Using a wrench is considered one of the most effective solutions. It is available in a wide range of sizes, which can properly fit the stuck oil filter and give it support.

In case your rubber gripper wrench keeps slipping off while removing, insert a sandpaper ring around the wrench’s inside for more grip.

Method 2: Unscrew with Sandpaper

Unscrew with Sandpaper

If your budget is limited, you can go for an old method of making use of the sandpaper.

To be more specific, the sandpaper will be wrapped around the engine oil filter. Then you will see apparent results even when this element is located in a hard-to-reach position.

Car owners would have sandpaper available. If you have not got this product, it is easy to purchase and requires little investment.

This type of paper grit grabs and makes the filter move more easily. Performing this technique with either hands or an oil filter swivel wrench is fine.

Method 3: Screwdriver and Hammer

Screwdriver and Hammer

Under some circumstances, the filtering element can begin to crush before twisting off, and you need these two tools, a screwdriver and a hammer, to deal with this problem.

How challenging the repairing process is depends on the position of this component. Get an oil pan or some PIG mats in your hands, as the fixing would make a mess.

The first step is hammering a screwdriver, of which the head is long and flat, directly through the stuck filter. Then, turn the screwdriver and make sure the power is enough to get the component pulled off.

Drive the screwdriver as high as possible to avoid shearing off. Meanwhile, if the filter begins to shear, stop your current movement. Take a wrench to wrap around this part.

In the worst condition, when you can not handle the problem, shear the rest part with the assistance of a hammer and vice grips.

However, this process requires certain techniques and effort; only shear off the filter’s bottom when there is no other option.

Method 4: Use a FilterCup Wrench

Use a FilterCup Wrench

The cup wrench is available in a tool set with different sizes offered. The sizes are designed to fit diversified types of oil filters; thus, pick a relevant one.

Apply a pretty huge force through the wrench to loosen the stuck element. This method does not require any other support; just make sure you know which direction to turn oil filter.

The range of cups can be compatible to multiple sizes of the component. Try not to get confused or choose a too large cup.

Or else the over-secured part would get damaged before fixing. Once the cup has reached the bottom part, the filter will change in shape to accommodate it.

You can either purchase a full set or a single cup for this method. Although buying one cup is cheaper, you just have limited use for only one dimension of the component.

Method 5: Use a Three-Leg Adapter Wrench

Use a Three-Leg Adapter Wrench

When it comes to the oil filter cartridge, there are threads covering this part. Thus, the solution for this situation is a three-leg adapter wrench.

Two typical types are offered, the fixed tool, which users can not adjust. It means the fixed adapter wrench is specially used for only one filter dimension.

The other type has legs with flexibly adjustable width, which is applied for a wide range of filters. You’d better invest in the second type for greater ability and practicality.

How Do You Get An Oil Filter Off By Hand?

Besides using tools, based on how tight the filter is, you would remove it by hand with the help of elbow grease.

However, if this component is either coated by oil or extremely tight, you will need more support.

Before removing, use a paper towel to wipe down the grease on the filter. This method offers better grip for you to turn the component counterclockwise.

Tips For Removing A Stuck Oil Filter

Besides knowing which way to loosen oil filter, it is important to consider some tips to optimize the process and reduce the chance of seal sticking.

Here is some helpful advice for you before removing your component:

1. Remember to warm up the engine before screwing. The high temperature allows the oil to flow more effortlessly and can loosen the seal between the filter housing and the engine body.

2. Use penetrant spray. Before taking off the seal, soak the tight oil filter’s body with the penetrant spray within one hour. It would help if you went for WD-40 or the same types of penetrating fluid; after soaking, give it some time to work the magic, then start turning the filter counterclockwise.

3. Having sandpaper available. As mentioned before, using coarse sandpaper is a traditional method to deal with overtightening. Wrapping some pieces around the filter before attaching the wrench will progress the removal as the grip increases.

4. Choosing a fitting tool. If you prefer to apply the cup wrench tool, choosing the right size of it is the most important. Once the cup matches the filter’s top, combine it with some penetrant spray and high temperature, and the stuck component will then easily loosen.

5. Avoid over-tightening. The oil filter, especially the new one, can be easily over-secured. Ensure that the seal is not tightened with great force after an oil change. It is advised to secure the screw by hand and use special tools for the last quarter after that.


What’s The Best Oil Filter Removal Tool?

Although numerous removal methods are recommended, the cup oil filter set is the most superior tool for this task.

It encourages users to apply the most force in removing the seal and offers a wide range of options for diversified component sizes.

Also, the cup wrench set provides significant power with little damage to the shell and is easy to use. That’s why it is considered the best choice and has the most professional performance.

Can I Change The Oil Without Changing The Oil Filter?

The answer is similar to the question: Can You change oil filter without changing oil? It depends. After a careless oil change, the filter will get clogged soon; its function will be limited.

As a result, the fluid returns to the engine’s components with metal particles and dirt, leading to potential damage.

Thus, changing the filter is worth your investment as it prevents the more expensive cost of repairing other damaged elements due to particles.


Hope that this writing has helped you come up with the answer for which way to turn oil filter and prevent over-tightening issues.

It is important to choose a relevant method, proper tools, and apply suitable force for removal.

Consider and follow the tips above to have an effective repair for your car’s component.

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