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Stuck oil filter on a 2005 Prius
Old 12-24-2011, 04:14 PM   #1
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Stuck oil filter on a 2005 Prius

This oil filter is kickin' my assets.

I'm blessed with some measure of mechanical skills, I know all sorts of tricks to remove the protective metal caps from the primary valves on nuclear reactor piping, I have XXL-size hands (with scarred knuckles from dragging them on the ground), and I have substantial grip strength.

But I'm being laughed at by a tiny little oil filter.

It's our first oil change since buying this Prius. The maintenance receipts note that the oil & filter were last changed in February, 5000 miles ago, at the Servco Honolulu Toyota dealer. I wonder if their grease monkey gorilla-torqued the filter with an impact wrench, because I can't get the damn thing to move a millimeter.

The Prius oil filter is exceptionally vulnerable accessible. It hangs within a few degrees of vertical at the bottom of the car, not even protected by the gravel shield. It's small and easily grasped. I have the car up on a couple of ramps so I have a good six inches above my face to get tools around the filter barrel. There's interference around it but I can get 30-40 degrees of rotation.

Yes, I'm going lefty loosey. (I haven't yet verified that the threads are in that direction but the manual doesn't specifically state that the threads are reverse. The new oil filter is threaded to go on righty tighty.) Yes, I have a filter socket that slides over the end of the filter, but it starts to slip before the filter starts to move. (The end bell of the filter is smooth, not pebbled.) Yes, I tried it with the engine/filter both cold and at operating temperature. The filter surface is too smooth for the teeth of my adjustable Ford wrench to get a good grip, and I'm a tad concerned that they'll cut right through the filter's sheet metal.

It's possible that the filter's (rubber?) gasket is somehow frozen to the metal seat. The filter has been torqued way too tightly but it doesn't look warped or damaged. Although I can get at the metal end bell of the filter with no trouble, I can't reach above that to the gasket where it seals to the engine casing.

I regret that I don't have a four-foot strap wrench. No, I'm not going to puncture the filter with a screwdriver and try to remove it that way.

No, I don't have one of those filter wrenches made from a loop of sheet metal, although I might buy one next week. I've never needed one before but maybe I need one now.

I hesitate to spray WD-40 around the gasket of the filter, especially on hot metal surfaces. I could spray 150-degree water directly from our solar water heater on to it, but I'm not sure whether that's worth the trouble.

Any other ideas?
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Old 12-24-2011, 04:23 PM   #2
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Wrap your wrench with some duct tape or electrical tape in multiple places to add more grip to it
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Old 12-24-2011, 04:46 PM   #3
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I once accidentally punctured an oil filter trying to get it off and ended up using tin snips to remove the casing then a screwdriver and hammer on the base to get it off. What an horrendous day that was and, as you say, would never deliberately go down that route.

I have no other suggestions to what you have tried already. I would take it to a shop to have the oil change and then be sure you can unscrew the filter for future oil changes. Think of it as a Christmas gift to the local economy.
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Old 12-24-2011, 04:48 PM   #4
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I don't think your the only one to have this problem. I've heard of a few people complaining about those. Amazon.com: Assenmacher Specialty Tools TOY 640 Oil Filter Housing Cup Wrench for Toyota/Lexus: Automotive And I think they do use an impact wrench to put them on at the quick lubes. Hope this helps...
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Old 12-24-2011, 05:13 PM   #5
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Is your oil filter a paper cartridge type with an oil filter cap that accepts a 65mm 14 flute wrench?
Almost look like the is a detent spring at 7 to 8 o'clock in the photo that follows.
Oops, guess the 2005 has a canister instead of a cartridge insert type oil filter.
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Old 12-24-2011, 05:19 PM   #6
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Phot of Prius oil filter cap-
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File Type: jpg Prius.jpg (94.6 KB, 5 views)
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Old 12-24-2011, 05:37 PM   #7
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Perhaps the filter was put on without lubrication for its seal. I've had the best luck with the sheet metal type tool that surrounds the filter. Though I suppose such a tool could crush the filter canister, that's never happened to me, but then I'm the guy who carefully installed the filter.
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Old 12-24-2011, 05:40 PM   #8
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Many of the filter socket wrenches look very similar but are slightly different and will slip. Buy one for your specific filter. I had a GM PF47 filter socket I used for years that I tried on my wifes Lexus. It fit but slipped when quite a bit of torque was applied. I went to the parts store and bought the proper socket for the Toyota filter and it came right off.
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Old 12-24-2011, 05:52 PM   #9
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No great ideas here. The 'genuine Toyota' filters (which I get cheaper than the ones in local auto shops, at our Toyota dealer!) have a real honest-to-gosh O ring prelubricated and under a protective seal of plastic over the 'clean' end of the filter. I use a spring loaded variable filter wrench on a 6" 3/8 socket extension and 6" ratchet wrench to loosen and spin it off by hand.

This sounds like you might have a Quickie Lube special with one of those rubber sheet punched gaskets, installed by a trained orangutan specialist. I once had to resort to a plumber's chain wrench, wrapped around the filter and tightened enough to crush it a bit. Yes, that's scary. I know other folks who have resorted to hammering a Phillips screwdriver through the filter, but I'd worry about the can tearing and leaving me with half a filter attached to the car.

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Old 12-24-2011, 06:04 PM   #10
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I've changed many oil filers over the years and every now and then one of them is a bugger ... usually because it's in a hard-to-get-to place. In my younger years I actually did drive a screwdriver through a filter to get it off but haven't done that in decades. If your filter socket wrench isn't a snug fit, wrapping some tape on the filter itself to take out the slack and prevent the slippage. Cloth electrician's friction tape comes to mind (if it' still being sold). It's worth a shot.

If you do choose to take it to a shop, please don't take it a jiffy-lube type place. You may not get the result you want. My first choice would be to take it to a mechanic you know and trust. Second choice would be to take it to a Toyota dealer.
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Old 12-24-2011, 06:13 PM   #11
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The band type wrench that tightens as you turn in the direction to remove is very effective but they can slip if the filter is oily. I've used them for decades. End cap types can slip and are needed when there's no room but that doesn't sound like a problem.

Can you find a "bicycle chain" type of wrench? I think they sell them, a friend made one for me and believe me they grip! You can make one by taking a ratchet extension and welding a piece of round stock at the end of the extension at 90 degree to the extension and weld a piece of bike chain at the same point. Insert the stock into a gap in the chain and use a ratchet to turn. This is so tight a grip it can crush the filter but the grip is amazing! Here's some stuff I found:

Strap wrench - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

AmPro T70425 Chain Oil Filter Wrench | ToolBarn.com

Amazon.com: Anytime Tools 19" LOCKING CHAIN CLAMP PIPE OIL FILTER WRENCH: Home Improvement
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Old 12-24-2011, 06:53 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords View Post
This oil filter is kickin' my assets.

It's our first oil change since buying this Prius. The maintenance receipts note that the oil & filter were last changed in February, 5000 miles ago, at the Servco Honolulu Toyota dealer.
Nofds.
My two cents--assuming you can confirm it is a Toyota filter, I would take my receipts to the Honolulu dealer and let them fix it. Yes, it will cost you a ridiculous amount for the change BUT, anything screwed up will clearly be theirs to fix. I would be sure to ask,when arriving, to talk with the Service Mgr and let him you know your disappointment with the misapplication of the filter and ask him to assume responsibility to see it is corrected. Who knows maybe they will not charge to earn some good will for future biz.
Frankly when i got my Oil Change 101 instruction, it was always hand tighten and nothing more. I do my own and generally loosen by hand at change. Put a new washer on each time and never have had a leak.
jGood luck to you gettin it done.
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Old 12-24-2011, 06:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords View Post
No, I'm not going to puncture the filter with a screwdriver and try to remove it that way.
Well, darn! I was looking forward to repeating my story regarding my adventure when I totally disabled my car by driving a long shank screw driver through the filter and still not being able to get the filter off.

I know you don't want to hear this whimpy solution........ But here it comes......... When I used to change my own oil and would occasionally run into a stuck filter, I'd take it to the dealer for an oil change and just spend the money to let them do it. (The $ difference between my dealer and diy used to be about $15, not a big deal.) They have a huge advantage due to standing on two feet under the car vs. laying on your back to work on it. I confess though..... this was a whimpy answer to a "man's" problem. And I was probably under the influence of the prior "drive a screwdriver through it" solution attempt.

Edit: Along this same trail of "whimpiness," I also took it in when I couldn't get at the back three spark plugs on my Sable V6. The front three were a snap. The rear three, close to the firewall and surrounded by crap, were beyond me. So there I was asking for a quote for changing three plugs..........
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Old 12-24-2011, 07:02 PM   #14
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Nords, I seen to recall an incident with DW and DD where you made a comment about me being cheap.

Kettle to pot: pay for an oil change.
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Old 12-24-2011, 07:15 PM   #15
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I've found that on my Camry, and I think the Prius is the same, the correct filter wrench makes all the difference. I purchased the one from Toyota but it was very expensive, solid steel and chrome plated. There is no flex in it and works perfect on Toyotas and my DD's Nissan Armanda. The wrench purchased at an auto store is aluminum, has flex in it and slips around the filter.
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Old 12-24-2011, 08:13 PM   #16
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If you have a 16" pair of channel lock pliers or a large pipe wrench will work if you have room. It will deform the shell , but better than the screwdriver skewer method. Duct tape to add friction as mentioned before helps sometimes too.
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Old 12-24-2011, 08:16 PM   #17
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Here's another vote for the channel locks if you have the room. The filter on my tractor vibrates itself so tight there is no other way to remove other than channel locks. It is a little unnerving to deform the filter, but it always has come off.
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Old 12-24-2011, 08:19 PM   #18
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Maybe post on priuschat . com for the prius geeks to give a shot at it.
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Old 12-24-2011, 08:45 PM   #19
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One thing to be careful of when using the oil filter tool that goes on the end of the filter is interference from the ratchet. It's pretty obvious but it tripped me up for a bit on a new vehicle I just removed the filter for the first time. the ratchet bottom out on the filter and prevented the tool from seating on the filter properly.

If I connect the tool to the ratchet first it will not allow the tool to go on the filter far enough. I have to seat the tool on the filter first and then connect the ratchet. Note that doing this the rached won't "lock" onto the tool because the tinny spring loaded ball bearing on the rachel doest pass through the tool.
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Old 12-24-2011, 08:45 PM   #20
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Nords,

I have been using this Crapsman universal oil filter wrench (Sears: Online department store featuring appliances, tools, fitness equipment and more) for both my Honda sedan and Toyota truck in the past 10 years without any problem and difficulty. It can indeed have a very strong grip on the oil filter housing.

In the attachment please find excerpt from Prius 2004 FSM about oil filter sub assembly, which most likely will apply to your 2005 model as well. It only calls for 13 ft.lb torque, so I think you should be able to loosen the oil filter with strong grip from a good filter wrench. It doesn't have to be the SST one. Based on the diagram, you might need a 3/8 extension to be used with a ratchet and the Crapsman universal oil filter wrench in order to get a good reach.

Good luck. Merry Christmas!
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