When performing vehicle maintenance at home, one of the most frustrating things to encounter is an oil filter that will not unscrew from its base. Given the oil filter's often cramped position on the engine,this task is made doubly aggravating by preventing the ability to add torque tothe oil filter. With a few simple tools and some preparation, this task is made much simpler.
Classic Oil Filter Wrench
The most common tool for turning oil filters is the classic, or strap-style oil filter wrench. It is a circular device attached to a long handle that can be used clockwise to tighten the filter, and counterclockwise to loosen it. The oil filter wrench uses the principles of applied torque to accomplish the task of turning the oil filter. Though useful in many older vehicles due to their moreopen engine compartments, the classic oil filter wrench, with its rigidlong-handled design, may not prove useful on more modern automobiles where space is limited or the oil filter is positioned in an inconvenient place.
Universal Oil Filter Wrench
The universal oil filter wrench is the most convenient method of breaking loose old oil filters. Its design is simple and efficient: a three- orfour-pronged adjustable claw that is fitted over the oil filter, with ahexagonal nut in the center to facilitate turning with a wrench or socket. Thiswrench is very useful in cramped spaces, as it can be paired with several kindsof socket extensions to allow torque to be applied from outside the crampedarea. Another version of this type of wrench consists of a metal sleeve thatfits around the outside of the oil filter.
What Not to Do to Remove A Difficult Filter
Never attempt to pry a stuck oil filter loose. Using a screwdriver orother inappropriate tool will permanently damage the interior screw threads ofthe engine. Yanking or applying force from any angle will cause these threadsto warp and prevent future oil filters from fitting properly, leading to oilleaks and necessitating extensive repair.
Never attempt to remove an oil filter barehanded. Most oil filters comewith a special layer of grip tape along the top, similar in texture to roughsandpaper, which can cause injury to the hands. Always use leather work glovesif attempting to remove the oil filter by hand.
Never attempt to change the oil or filter while the engine is hot. Oilchanges should only be performed when the engine is cool. This will prevent anyinjury caused by hot engine oil, and will make the task much easier. Bothrubber and metal expand when heated, so allowing the engine to cool downbeforehand will relieve some of the pressure on the gasket between the oilfilter and the engine.
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