The Best Way To Remove An Overtightened Oil Drain Plug

man taking out drain plug from oil pan
Photo by Jimmy Nilsson Masth / Unsplash

An over-torqued bolt can be one of the most annoying things for anyone working on their car at home or for an experienced mechanic who has been on the job for 20 years. But no matter your mechanical abilities we'll try to go through each step and situation with the most precise and direct solutions for you. After that, we'll give you advice on how to prevent this problem in the future as well.

Step 1 - Lubricate and Penetrate

One of the first steps to getting the bolt loose is to add some lubricant or penetrating fluid to start attacking any rust or dirt/grim that might be tightening the bolt. We recommend either Wd-40 or CRC Super Penetrant, if you have both try to use penetrating fluid since that's what it was designed for. Spray a good amount on your plug, then wait around 10 minutes to let it seep down into the threads.

two pack of WD-40
WD-40 Original Forumla Smart Straw Spray
CRC penetrant for bolts
CRC Screwloose Super Penetrant 03060

What To Do If Your Plug Is Stripped?

If your plug is completely stripped or rounded out there are only a few things you can do to get your socket/bit on there. But However, the main goal is to get a socket or bit on there.

Bang A Socket/Bit Onto it (At-Home Solution)

Even though when a plug is stripped out, there's still material to grab onto. So try to find a socket/bit that barely fits onto the plug and pound it on there with a hammer. This will cause the socket to bite onto anything that might be left and give you something to work with. After that slowly try to turn the bolt, DO NOT USE POWER TOOLS. The instant torque they provide may cause your jerry-rigged solution to slip and strip the bolt further. Instead, use a ratchet or breaker bar and slowly turn the plug, if you can't turn the plug at all we have a section for that down below included in this article.

You will use these products the same as we did in the At-Home Solution. But these will do a much better job since attaching onto stripped bolts since its what they were designed for. Remember, attach the socket/bit on the stripped plug and pound it on there with a hammer. Then slowly turn with a ratchet/breaker bar. DO NOT USE POWERED TOOLS.

REXBETI Impact Bolt & Nut Remover Set, 13 Pieces

  • 13 pieces 3/8 inch drive bolt & nut remover comes with 3/4"(19mm), 11/16", 17mm, 5/8"(16mm), 9/16"(14mm), 13mm, 1/2", 12mm, 7/16"(11mm), 10mm, 3/8", 5/16"(8mm), 1/4"
Amazon Link

XEWEA 25Pcs Screw Extractor Set Hex Head

Multiple size to meet all your need:25pcs

Amazon Link

Step 2 - Getting The Bolt To Turn

Now that you have your socket/bit onto the drain plug it's time to start making it move. There are three different ways you can go about this, we will go over all of them down below but the main goal is to get that bolt moving.

Tekton Ratchet and Deep Socket
Photo by Tekton / Unsplash

Use A Pipe For Leverage (At-Home Solution)

This solution is quite simple, the longer your ratchet/breaker bar the more leverage you will have, and in turn more torque to break that bolt loose. If you are only working with a few tools and need a quick solution try adding a pipe to your ratchet/wrench. As we said this will extend the length of your tool. After that slowly turn your extended tool. If nothing happens after a while you could also try using your legs to push, since your legs are usually much stronger than your arms.

Extra Leverage (Product Solution)

You will use these products the same as we did in the At-Home Solution. But these will do a much better job since it's what they were designed for. As we said they will give you more leverage and in turn, more torque. Plus you will have a multi-use tool that will help with many other over-torque bolts you may run into in the future. We linked a nice starter set down below.

DURATECH 3-Piece Breaker Bar Set, 1/4'', 3/8'' & 1/2'' Drive Breaker Bars Heavy Duty

Made of premium high-strength alloy steel, the heavy duty breaker bar kit features a corrosion-resistant forged and hardened chrome alloy steel construction for maximum strength and longer service life

Amazon Link

Use A Impacts Or Drill

Of course, an electric or air-powered impact or drill will deliver much more torque in a much quicker time span. But if your bolt is stripped and you're using a method we described in earlier sections DO NOT USE A POWER TOOL. The instant snapping-like torque that these tools deliver will shred the bolt even more, causing more problems. But if you really can't get it loose with a breaker bar/pipe, you may need to use a power tool as your last resort.

Step 3 - Prevention

Of course, you don't want this happening again if you're gonna be working on your car a lot, or just don't want the next person to have such a hard time. Probably the most important thing that will prevent this problem the most and it's to simply not over torque the bolt when putting it back in. Another big problem is letting the car sit for too long, letting time get to a car can cause many problems including seized bolts, rust, and many other things we won't list. The last prevention tip is to make sure that the thread on both the female and male ends of your plug is clean. Also if your plug is stripped out do yourself a favor and buy a new one. It shouldn't be a secret that this will prevent future problems.

Now Get Out There And Finish Your Oil Change!

oil filter being take out of a car
Photo by Jimmy Nilsson Masth / Unsplash