Whitesburg KY

Car Talk

Stuck oil filter has reader stumped

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 2006 4.7-liter V- 8 Jeep Grand Cherokee with 50,000 miles, and we change our own oil every 3,000 miles. We always have. This last time we went to change the oil, my husband and I battled for two and a half hours to get the oil filter off! We started with a cap-style oil-filter wrench, which started slipping. Then we used every wrench we could find, including a Channellock. A few hours later, the filter looked like a crushed beer can! The filter is in a tight spot, so we don’t have a lot of room to work the thing. We got so desperate that we drove a screwdriver through it to use that for leverage. Didn’t work. We finally realized we’d lost this battle, so now our car needs to be pushed out of the garage and towed to our mechanic. But for future reference, are there any other techniques or tricks for loosening stuck filters? — Lasha

RAY: No, you pretty much hit ’em all, Lasha!

TOM: The one other advantage we have at the shop is that we have some better wrenches to try. We have one that grabs around the bottom of the filter, and attaches to a ratchet. But sometimes even that doesn’t work.

RAY: And then the only option is to grab the air chisel and break it off. And you’re absolutely right to tow it to a professional to have that done. It’s not something you want to try yourself, because if you screw it up and take a chunk out of that mating surface on the engine block, every filter from then on will leak.

TOM: And you want to be able to blame the SHOP for that, rather than your husband.

RAY: I can tell you why the filter stuck: You forgot to put oil on the filter gasket. The filter comes with a rubber O-ring on top that creates a seal between the filter and the engine. If you don’t lubricate the seal with oil before tightening the new filter, it will “wed” to the engine block, and be extremely difficult to remove.

TOM: How does he know that? Personal experience!

RAY: Right. Nowadays, we prefer a nice, healthy dollop of Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil to lube the gasket, but the truth is, a fingertip full of motor oil will do just as well. You’ll remember it next time, I’m sure, Lasha.

(c) 2009 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman Distributed by King Features

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