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Better Oil Filter Wrench?
Old 08-12-2008, 02:00 PM   #1
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Better Oil Filter Wrench?

It's oil change time, and I'm sitting here waiting for the oil to drain from the Echo.

I finally got the old filter off. It was hard not because it was stuck, but because the cap-type oil filter wrench didn't properly fit the Bosch filter (although it has fit all the other brands I've used).

My back up strap-type filter wrench didn't work because there isn't enough room to turn it.

Apparently I'm not alone in these problems, since there's an entire web site devoted to complaining about oil filter wrenches:

Oil Filter Wrench Complaints

I finally got the old filter off using a jury-rigged combination of channel-lock pliers and a wrench.

There's got to be a better way. Anyone got an oil filter wrench which works reliably?
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Old 08-12-2008, 02:12 PM   #2
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I have changed my own oil for about 40 years and have accumulated several wrenches. Currently the one's that seem to work best are the hard plastic ones (cheap) and I only use FRAM filters. However, the last time the filter just would not come loose the normal way. I even managed to "ream out" the 1/4" driver hole trying to get it to turn (and I only put them on "hand tight"). Fortunately, I was able to put about a 1 inch socket wrench over the thing at the base of it and it then came off fine. Using it that way it seems to work quite well. I swear every time I buy a new car that the oil filter must be easily accessible (but usually forget it in the end). My current vehicle is a Lexus GX 470 and it is a bear to change the oil on - have to remove a steel plate about 4 foot square to even get to the oil filter and then to get the thing back on is even a worse hassle. Had a Nissan Pathfinder and it also had a plate to remove but it was plastic and much easier to handle. I think the auto makers design this stuff to make it difficult for DIY owners.
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Old 08-12-2008, 02:14 PM   #3
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Al, your new oil filter may have had a different diameter or different number of flutes than the previous ones. I've found the cap wrenches to work the best of the options. Here is an inexpensive set that might include what you need.

Harbor Freight Tools - Quality Tools at the Lowest Prices
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Old 08-12-2008, 02:18 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OAG View Post
I think the auto makers design this stuff to make it difficult for DIY owners.
In my experience in the automotive design business, the under hood packagers were trying to put 10# in a 5# bag and access for maintenance and repair often took a back seat to cost and other trade offs. No malice.
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Old 08-12-2008, 02:37 PM   #5
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I change the oil on my 1995 Toyota Corolla and I don't even use a wrench any more.

Before putting on a new filter, I open a fresh quart of oil, dip my finger in, and lube the contact surface of the rubber o-ring with fresh oil.

I then install the filter by hand, making sure not to get any oil on the outside of the filter. I put it on gently until it makes contact with the engine block and then tighten it another 1/2 to 3/4 turn.

Using that technique, when I go to remove old filters, they're moderately tight but relatively easy to remove with one hand. Never had any oil leakage.

I use the basic Fram filters from Schuck's and change my oil every 5K.

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Old 08-12-2008, 02:44 PM   #6
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Also, as long as the filter doesn't go on upside down or at a severe angle I always fill the new filter with fresh oil before I install.
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Old 08-12-2008, 03:20 PM   #7
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If you can't get it off with one of these then it isn't going to come off. These oil-filter pliers have never ever failed to remove a filter.

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Old 08-12-2008, 03:23 PM   #8
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I use 2Cor's method and that works well for me. I have a pair of rubber work gloves with a rough/sandy surface thats grippy even when wet with oil and thats enough to remove and replace the filter.

And god bless Honda and Toyota, who seem to have figured out how to put the drain plug and filter right on the bottom of the motor, right up front, just behind the bumper where its easy to reach.

BTW, if you just cant get the old filter off, sometimes you can get it off by banging a 1"-1.5" chisel right through the side of the filter body and out the other side and then using the chisel handle to turn it.

I had an absolute complete disaster on a '69 plymouth valiant when I was about 18 or 19. Decided to do a quick oil change on it before we took an all day drive. Filter wrench didnt work. Put the chisel through it and pulled on the handle for all I was worth and that just ripped the whole filter can off the base plate, which was still firmly attached.

So I cut a notch in the base plate with a saw, and was hammering on it with a hammer and chisel trying to knock it loose when the entire assembly the oil filter was attached to came off.

So whoever put that filter on used just a little too much twist.

...and we didnt get to make that drive. I started around 7 in the morning and it was around 4pm when the hunk of motor came off.
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Old 08-12-2008, 03:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cute fuzzy bunny View Post

BTW, if you just cant get the old filter off, sometimes you can get it off by banging a 1"-1.5" chisel right through the side of the filter body and out the other side and then using the chisel handle to turn it.

I had an absolute complete disaster on a '69 plymouth valiant when I was about 18 or 19. Decided to do a quick oil change on it before we took an all day drive. Filter wrench didnt work. Put the chisel through it and pulled on the handle for all I was worth and that just ripped the whole filter can off the base plate, which was still firmly attached.

So I cut a notch in the base plate with a saw, and was hammering on it with a hammer and chisel trying to knock it loose when the entire assembly the oil filter was attached to came off.

So whoever put that filter on used just a little too much twist.

...and we didnt get to make that drive. I started around 7 in the morning and it was around 4pm when the hunk of motor came off.
A tale I was told:
Husband attempts to change oil of wife's car. Filter won't come off by hand, or by filter wrench. Wife says: "Drive it to the garage."

Testosterone is flowing, he says: "I can do this. My uncle told me to jam a screwdriver though the filter and twist it off."

Wife: "Please drive it to the garage. It won't cost that much."

Husband: "I can do this!"

Drives screwdriver through filter, attempts to turn it. Filter is now ripped open.

Garage is called and comes and tows car away. They chisel off the filter.

Husband: "Who changed the oil last time?"

Wife: "You did."
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Old 08-12-2008, 03:48 PM   #10
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The best universal wrench I've found for tight filters is one like this. I think I found it at Napa.
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/...500_AA200_.jpg

....and I agree with 73SS.....always pre-fill a new filter when possible.

No offense to Fram users here. I know all of us grew up using them, but do a search on oil filter studies. I stopped using them about 10 years ago when I cut one open after a 5k mile oil change.
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Old 08-12-2008, 04:03 PM   #11
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Yeah, theres a study from a couple of years ago where a guy took apart all the commercial oil filters and the frams didnt do very well. Some of them had loose paper filter elements wrapped in a piece of twine and glued, with flimsy plastic valves. Some had nice coated filter elements and no flimsy parts.

See if I can find it...
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Old 08-12-2008, 04:06 PM   #12
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Opinions and Recommendations - Oil Filters Revealed - MiniMopar Resources
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Old 08-12-2008, 04:30 PM   #13
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I've seen similar studies. One of the Fram filters (Tough guard) is average. I don't remember which fram I opened up, but found pretty much what the studies showed. The cardboard endcaps had collapsed, ADBV wasn't working, most of the pleats in the media were folded shut leaving about 3 open enough to do any filtering. The body was as thin as a beer can too.
I think for price, flow, and filtering, Mobil 1 is probably the best bang for the buck. Wix isn't bad either. JMO.....
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Old 08-12-2008, 05:31 PM   #14
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I like hastings and wix filters.

I think Fram has diff. levels of quality if I remember correctly, you get what you pay for with oil filters.
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Old 08-12-2008, 05:37 PM   #15
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I used to use a screwdriver and a hammer.
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Old 08-12-2008, 07:55 PM   #16
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Al, one way to get a tight filter to give up is to drive the car until everything's hot and then try to loosen the filter. Wear heavy gloves and long sleeves. The caveat is that once you get it loose, don't unscrew it the rest of the way until the oil cools off.

A much safer (but more expensive) way is a fully-adjustable strap wrench. We used to use a variation of one of these on balky primary-coolant valve caps on submarines:
Motion Pro - Oil Filter Strap Wrench

Our Prius has one of the world's tiniest oil filters, and my oil-filter metal-strap wrench doesn't adjust small enough to get it off. However the filter was small enough that I could angle a Ford wrench around it. Of course the old filter was no longer useable by the time it came free.

As for all you purists & fanatics about high-end filters & synthetic oil: I don't care about the data showing that engines have less wear with the more expensive stuff. I want to see the data showing at what degree of cheapness the "regular" oil filters & refined oil actually reduce engine life despite changes at six months or 5000 miles. As far as I can tell, I've never had an engine crap out "sooner" with the cheapest Fram filter and the cheapest API-SF oil. In fact, by the time we've had enough of our cars (12-15 years) the engine is the last thing that's still reliably working.

But hey, maybe it makes you sleep better at night.
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Old 08-12-2008, 08:36 PM   #17
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In this case the filter wasn't that tight, it was that the cap wrench slipped, and there wasn't room to turn the strap wrench. I had installed the filter, had put oil on it, and had turned it 1/2 turn past finger tight.

One solution is just to throw away the additional Bosch filter that I have, and continue to use Frams (I'll see about using Tough Guard). The Fram has a non-slip coating on it, and the cap wrench fits well. I always have difficultly getting the cap off, but I can do it.

What's the rationale for filling the filter with oil? I'd figure that the oil will fill it up pretty quickly.
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Old 08-12-2008, 09:01 PM   #18
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There's a short period of time when the oil filter is empty and the engine is not being oiled. In most cases this is not a big concern but better safe than sorry.
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Old 08-12-2008, 09:41 PM   #19
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Lately I've been using the filter pliers like in MasterBlaster's picture. I bought it cheap at Harbor Freight.

Also, a lesson I learned on my 72 Dodge Polara--look at the old filter after you take it off--is there a rubber gasket on it? If not, it's still stuck on the oil filter mount. If you leave it there and screw the new filter on, everything will feel fine. Believe this--two gaskets is not better than one. One of the gaskets will be askew or tucked under. When you crank up the engine, your driveway will immediately look like Exxon Valdez Revisited.

And, when you are re-inserting the oil plug with your hand all contorted under the pan, be SURE you're not crossthreading it.
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Old 08-12-2008, 09:42 PM   #20
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Wow!
I generally just use my bare hands on a cold filter if I can get a good grip or use the cap wrench if access is limited. Sometimes I change filters for family members and if the cap wrench won't work, my universal back-up is an old leather belt used like a strap-wrench, but works much much better (won't crush the filter can as easily). You can even use a rachet and extension to create leverage and rachet action by coiling the belt around the filter and the end of the extension in a kind of figure eight configuration.
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