How to remove a stuck oil drain plug: Helpful hints


The motor oil remains in the oil pans of the car. This oil pallet utilizes drain plugs to control the oil in them. Thus, in order to change the motor oil, you must extract this oil pan drain plug. But what happens when the oil drain plug is stuck?

It can be stuck as you waited too long before an oil change, or you overtightened it during a previous oil change. What would you do to remove the oil drain plug? Here is our manual on how to remove a stuck oil drain plug.

Various types of oil drain plug

Some manufacturers place oil drain plugs on the underside of the sump. Others set them outward at the base of one of the sides (usually the front or back).

Different cars also come in different types.

The protruding oil drain plugs are usually standard hex head bolts. They can be removed using standard ratchets, sockets, and wrenches.

Some vehicles require a Torx, square, or hex socket to remove oil drain plugs.

Finally, in most vehicles, the oil drain plug is completely unscrewed. However, the oil drain plugs of some cars only loosen to a certain extent. The oil is then allowed to drain without having to be completely removed.

If you can’t loosen the plug, make sure it’s not one of them! Check the user manual.

Possible causes of a stuck oil drain plug

The main reason to remove stuck oil drain plugs is silt. This formation around the oil drain plug makes it hard to delete in the traditional way. Sediment forms around the stuck oil drain plug because the engine oil has expired. The oil inclines to acidify at elevated temp. When oxidized, engine oil molecules are destroyed.

The molecules blend with combustion motor land, which has part, metal, carbon, water, and fuel to form sticky silt.

Another reason why the stuck oil drain plug can jam is over-tightening. This happens when an unskilled person performs routine maintenance. When you overtighten the plug, you damage the screw pitch. If the plug is overtightened, the entire oil pan must be replaced.

You can also perform some machining processes in the threaded hole to save the damaged place and replace the oil drain plug with a new one.

Ten ways how to remove a stuck oil drain plug

The oil drain plug is nothing more than a hex bolt that screws into the oil pan to seal it. The vibrations can allow a small amount of oil to seep into the threads, deposit, and eventually create a sticky substance that makes the plug very difficult to unscrew.

However, a much more common way to jam an oil drain plug is to over-tighten it. I’ll teach you how to properly tighten the oil drain plug once we’ve unscrewed it.

Please make sure you are safe when working under the car – you will be pulling and tugging and pressing on the plug, and it can move the whole car and get it off the jack and supports. The best place to do this job is in a mechanic’s trench or on a machine lifted up.

If you can’t access any of them, find a high curb in your area and drive up to it with one side of your car. It’s not perfect, but it will give you enough room to maneuver without the risk of the car falling over.

The last thing to remember is that the bolts are unscrewed by turning them counterclockwise. Right-tense, left-free. It seems trivial, but when you’re in a car, it’s very easy to forget about it. This happens to me more often than I’d like to admit, so I’d rather remind you than let your engine oil break the bolt.

1. Vehicle warming up

One of the most straightforward methods to remove a stuck oil drain plug is to allow the auto to heat up. You may do this by exiting it inactive for a time or bringing maintenance of it on a quick sail.

Then park the automobile in a regular area. Utilizing any hydraulic jack, lift the car increased, find the oil drain plug, and drive the oil drain plug clockwise or counterclockwise until it eases.

2. Spray with anti-seize spray

Since the plug is very tight, the anti-seize spray may not penetrate the gap as easily, but any help is appreciated. Spray on the fork and wait a few minutes, then wipe the top and sides of the nut with a piece of old cloth to improve grip.

3. Using a socket wrench

Socket wrenches are one of the most well-known tools used in automotive maintenance due to their practicality and flexibility. It is also a multipurpose tool that can be used for various purposes. The best tool for loosening the oil drain plug is a socket wrench.

Carry a proper socket that fits the scope of the oil drain plug and utilize it to unscrew the stuck oil drain plug. Consider a socket wrench with a long handle, as it provides extra torque, making your job easier.

4. Start with a standard ratchet

With the bolt as lubricated as possible, you can try to unscrew it with the socket head. Make sure the socket fits well on the bolt before applying even but strong pressure to unscrew it. The only thing you don’t want to do is flatten the head of the bolt because it will be very hard to fix.

5. Use a hammer

Another tip is to use a hammer and try to tap on the oil drain plug. A few light taps in the right direction will loosen the fork properly. Be careful not to damage the oil drain plug or its teeth. After that, try again to unscrew the oil drain plug with a socket wrench.

6. Long ratchet

For a more refined approach, instead of hammering with a wrench, you can use an extended ratchet to get more leverage.

The problem with this approach is that you will have very little room for the ratchet to work, but if you have enough room to turn the ratchet just a couple of inches it should be enough. Once the bolt comes off, you can use a standard ratchet to pull it out completely.

7. Use Gator Grip

This design is famous as a versatile wrenching socket as it operates with any plug, and bolt utilizing its teeth. The alligator handgrip may assist you in pulling the plug.

8. Impact wrench

If you don’t need a powerful impact wrench, you can ask a tire fitter to remove the bolt with an air wrench. Personally, I’m not a fan of using an impact wrench, but we need to explore all options to get the job done. First, you need to check if the impact wrench will even fit under the car.

Need sharp reflexes to release the trigger as soon as the plug starts to move. Hold on too long, and you can completely unscrew the plug, pouring oil on your expensive tool and even yourself.

9. Use a car jack

I recently discovered this method from a YouTube video, and it honestly blew me away. I talked about how important leverage is – with a car jack you get more than you’ll ever need.

10. Get professional help

Unluckily, if you have got this paragraph, indicates that all of the above ways and actions did not allow you to pull a stuck oil drain plug. Do not worry. It’s good to ask for help when things get tough. However, be careful who you turn to for help.

Make sure you get help from an expert. Also, make sure that the fixes to be applied to your vehicle are very safe. Have the person explain to you what is happening and why. Removing this suction drain plug may require some mechanical skill to avoid repeating the situation after a new plug is installed.

How to change engine oil?

Since we are talking about removing the oil drain plug, I can also tell you how to complete the oil modification process. In addition to the tools needed to remove and reinstall the drain plug, you will need an oil pan to collect the old oil.

  • Warm up the oil slightly by starting the engine.
  • Place an oil pan under the drain plug.
  • Remove the plug and let the oil drain.
  • Remove the oil filter if it’s time to replace it. Be careful as it contains hot oil inside, so put on gloves and quickly pour out the oil.
  • Reinstall the drain plug.
  • Screw in a new oil filter if you are changing it.
  • At the top of the engine, open the oil cap and fill in the amount of oil specified for your vehicle, minus 5-10%.
  • Run the engine for a minute, then check the oil level with the dipstick. If it is low, add more oil, then repeat the process.
  • Pour the old oil from the sump into the already empty oil containers for disposal.

What if you shear a bolt?

If you apply too much torque to the oil drain plug, it will break. It’s not necessarily your fault – it could be so stuck that it’s hopeless, or possibly completely rusted.

Now your only real option is to extract the oil with an extractor. Then you will need to remove the pan from the bottom of the engine and clean out any remaining oil.

Now drill out the sheared bolt. Be careful because the oil is highly flammable – make sure you clean it well. Touch it again (as above) and install a new plug and washer.

Install the finished pan on the car and fill in the oil, adhering to the recommended grade and quantity. Start the engine and check for leaks, watching until the engine warms up.

If drilling and re-cutting don’t seem like an option, you’ll need a brand-new sump.

What tool can be used to remove a stripped bolt with the shell removed?

In addition to traditional methods, there are also professional, effortless methods that can be used to remove a stripped bolt or oil drain plug. One such way is to use the Irwin Tools BOLT-GRIP extractor. This is a deburred oil plug remover designed specifically for removing rounded, rusty, or painted bolts and plugs.

The tool is made of high-carbon steel, which ensures reliability and long service life. The concept of this equipment is that it is scheduled to deliver increased-impact force to any bolt or fastener, forcing it to pop to escape. There are many sizes in this set to fit most bolts in the automotive industry.

It also performs well with a stuck motorcycle drain plug with a broad spectrum of dimensions: 8 mm, 10 mm, 13 mm, 19 mm, 5/16″, 11/16″, and ¾” at 3/8″ drive size.


What size oil drain plug?

There are 4 standard plug measures: 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″, and 3/4″. The instrument operated with these plugs arrives in different forms, but the major ones are hex (most accustomed), dual square, and dual hex. Be mindful that utilizing an extremely big head may hurt the tool and drive damage to your hands.
Before you start the procedure of altering the engine oil on one’s own, you ought to determine what dimension head you will utilize. You will require a socket wrench to extend the oil drain plug stuck so that the ancient engine oil will empty out of the motor. Beyond, you will have to place the plug around in the location, so you may suffuse it with novel oil.

Why can’t I get my oil plug off?

The main cause of drain plug sticking is sludge. This formation around the oil drain plug makes it difficult to remove in the traditional way. Sediment forms around the stripped oil drain plug because the engine oil has expired. The oil then tends to oxidize at high temperatures.

What happens if you over-tighten oil drain plug?

Unfortunately, you can also cause damage by overtightening. Overtightening the stripped oil drain plug stuck the threads. While this is harder to do, you can damage the rubber gasket on the oil filter if you over-tighten it.

How do you get a stripped drain plug out?

A stripped oil drain plug can often be removed by simply turning it counterclockwise with a wrench or socket. However, it may be necessary to apply a slight external force to the plug itself to engage any remaining threads.

Where is the drain plug located?

The oil drain plug is a large nut, generally found at the most down pinpoint of the oil pan at the bottom of the engine, where all of the engine oil is located. The reason it is located here is that it allows the full quantity of oil to be drained when changing the engine oil.
To obtain the oil drain plug, you ought to reach beneath the automobile or raise the vehicle with a hydraulic jack.


If the drain plug won’t come out, all is not lost! In most cases, you will be able to remove it without resorting to extreme alternatives.

Even then, you have nothing to worry about. The main lesson here is that if you’re new to cars, leave it to the experts. They do these things every day.

At the same time, you can help prevent the drain plug from sticking by replacing it every three or four oil changes.

Read also: What Is GVWR On A Truck? (Everything Explained)

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