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Have a jammed on oil filter and no oil filter wrench?


What is the issue?
Tightened oil filters can be difficult if not impossible to remove without a hand-driven oil filter wrench.

Why address this?
It can be a demoralizing experience. You have drained the oil and the oil filter is welded on and simply will not come off. You need to remove a jammed filter before the oil can be changed and the service completed.

How to address this?
There are three approaches to a jammed oil filter when an oil filter wrench is unavailable. There are two routes, destructive and nondestructive. Many people are nervous about doing this, as in the unlikely event that the problem should continue, the engine is then totally out of commission with a destroyed filter.

The first approach is to try to break the seal. Remember that the filter is not stuck on the threads but stuck on the compressed gasket between the filter and the block. If you can break that bond the filter will spin free easily. Try working in a single edged razor blade between the gasket and the block and slide it all the way around the gasket to break the seal.

If it is too tight you will have to take a more destructive route. Go round the edge of the filter with a heavy screwdriver and prize it away from the engine, like trying to take the lid off a tin. The filter is only tin so it bends easily but be careful, you don’t want to scar up the machined surface that the oil filter gasket presses against. The objective of both these approaches is to break the seal caused by the rubber ring, and if this is achieved the filter will then screw off by hand easily.

A large hose clip
Photo: Courtesy of Jubilee

If that does not work you have a non-destructive approach which is to tighten a large slotted screw worm drive, better known as a hose clip or jubilee hose clip, around the filter. If you do not have one large enough a pair of smaller ones can be joined to encompass the filter. A layer of rubber or an old washing up glove under the jubilee hose clip will help it grip. Attach it as close to the base of the filter as you can. This is the strongest part of the canister and there is less risk of crushing it there.

Once tightened, the hose clip screw heads provide a place to tap with a hammer so as to drift the filter off. This always works but if for some reason you cannot stop the hose clips slipping, a couple of pop rivets through the jubilee clip and into the filter housing will absolutely hold it fast.

Using a hose clip to tap off a jammed oil filter
Photo: AdirondackNY

The last option is the most destructive route available. Take a hammer and drive a large screwdriver through the middle of the oil filter. Then use the additional purchase it affords to turn off the oil filter.
This will work, but it leaves a huge mess and often totally destroys the filter leaving only the base attached. If the canister comes apart stick the screwdriver into the small holes around the threaded centre hole and drift it off with a hammer.

There are tools to release a jammed oil filter but the trick to avoiding this problem in the future is, when putting on the replacement filter, to stick your finger in the oil and run it all around the new rubber seal. Then just turn the new filter on by hand. The sealing is done entirely by the o-ring. The cap is torqued only to keep it from unscrewing. So typically, turn it till it is snug and give it a tug , hand tight, plus a ¼ turn. It won't leak and will turn off easily by hand the next time you replace it. If you are any way unsure consult your engine manual.
Please note

Never uses an oil filter removal tool to tighten replacement oil filters.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.

Tapping a filter off with a large hose clip

Other methods

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Add your review or comment:

Ron Smith wrote this review on Dec 10th 2014:
I am unfamiliar with the term jubilee, perhaps you could offer an alternative, for those of us from the colonies you know (Canada)

Average Rating: Unrated

Michael Harpur wrote this review on Nov 13th 2017:
Thank you for your question. Apologies for not seeing it earlier. Hopefully, the video update and the images help make it clearer.

Average Rating: Unrated

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