How To Get A Mangled Oil Filter Off: A Step-By-Step Guide


Changing the oil filter is a routine maintenance task for any vehicle owner. However, there may be instances where the oil filter becomes mangled, making it difficult to remove. This can be frustrating and time-consuming, but fear not! In this article, we will guide you through the process of safely removing a mangled oil filter without causing any damage to your vehicle. So, let’s get started!

Step 1: Gather the Necessary Tools

Before attempting to remove the mangled oil filter, make sure you have the following tools handy:

  • Oil filter wrench
  • Rubber mallet
  • Pliers
  • Rags or paper towels
  • Penetrating oil or WD-40

Step 2: Prepare the Area

Prior to removing the mangled oil filter, it’s important to prepare the surrounding area to minimize any potential mess. Place a few rags or paper towels underneath the filter to catch any oil drips.

Step 3: Loosen the Filter

Using an oil filter wrench, try to loosen the mangled oil filter by turning it counterclockwise. Apply steady pressure and ensure that the wrench is securely attached to the filter. If the filter is too mangled for the wrench to grip, move on to the next step.

Step 4: Tap with a Rubber Mallet

If the oil filter wrench fails to loosen the mangled filter, gently tap the bottom edge of the filter with a rubber mallet. The aim is to create a slight rotation force that may help break the seal. Be careful not to strike too hard, as excessive force can damage the filter or surrounding components.

Step 5: Use Pliers

If the previous steps didn’t work, try using a pair of pliers to grip and turn the mangled oil filter. Wrap a cloth around the filter to protect your hand and provide a better grip. Slowly apply pressure and turn the filter counterclockwise. Be cautious not to crush or damage the filter during this process.

Step 6: Apply Penetrating Oil or WD-40

If the mangled oil filter remains stubbornly stuck, apply a generous amount of penetrating oil or WD-40 around the base of the filter. Allow it to sit for a few minutes to penetrate and loosen any debris or rust that may be causing the filter to stick.

Step 7: Try the Wrench Again

After applying the penetrating oil or WD-40, give the oil filter wrench another try. The lubrication should make it easier to loosen the mangled oil filter. If the filter still won’t budge, move on to the next step.

Step 8: Heat the Filter

Using a heat gun or hairdryer, apply heat to the mangled oil filter. Heat expands metal, which can help break the seal and make it easier to remove the filter. Be cautious not to overheat the surrounding components or your hands while doing this.

Step 9: Use a Filter Removal Tool

If all previous attempts have failed, consider using a filter removal tool. These tools are specifically designed to grip and remove stubborn oil filters. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to secure the tool onto the mangled oil filter and then turn it counterclockwise to loosen and remove the filter.

Step 10: Clean the Area

Once you have successfully removed the mangled oil filter, clean the surrounding area using a rag or paper towel. Wipe away any oil residue or debris to ensure a clean working environment.

Step 11: Prepare the New Filter

Before installing the new oil filter, make sure to apply a thin layer of clean oil to the rubber gasket. This will ensure a proper seal and prevent leaks.

Step 12: Install the New Filter

Screw the new oil filter onto the filter housing by hand. Once it’s snug, use the oil filter wrench to tighten it an additional three-quarters of a turn. Avoid overtightening, as this can damage the filter or the housing.

Step 13: Check for Leaks

Start the engine and let it run for a few minutes. Inspect the area around the new oil filter for any signs of leaks. If you notice any leaks, turn off the engine immediately and double-check the installation.

Step 14: Dispose of the Old Filter

Properly dispose of the mangled oil filter in accordance with local regulations or take it to a recycling center. Do not throw it in the regular trash as it can harm the environment.

Step 15: Record the Maintenance

Lastly, don’t forget to record the oil filter change in your vehicle’s maintenance log or on a maintenance tracking app. Keeping a record of your maintenance tasks helps ensure that you stay on top of your vehicle’s needs.


Removing a mangled oil filter can be a challenging task, but with the right tools and techniques, it is manageable. Remember to take your time, be patient, and follow the steps outlined in this guide. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable performing this task, it’s always best to seek professional assistance to avoid any potential damage to your vehicle. Regular oil filter changes are crucial to keep your engine running smoothly, so don’t let a mangled filter deter you from maintaining your vehicle’s health!

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