How to Remove a Stuck Oil Pan Plug

If you have an old car that’s already had many oil changes in its lifetime, chances are, the oil pan plug hasn’t been replaced yet and that it has been coming on and off repeatedly in the process. The corners of the bolt may have already become round due to repeated turning and because they tend to be screwed on tightly. This can make it difficult to remove during your next oil change. Here are some steps to changing the oil pan plug.


  • Box-end wrench smaller than the bolt size of plug
  • Larger box-end wrench
  • Hammer

Step 1: Preparations

Before you start this project, decide whether you will go under the car or use a lifter to do the job. Using a lifter is much easier since you have more space to work with, and you will have more leverage since you will be standing up and not cramped lying down.

Step 2: Fit the Smaller Wrench into the Bolt

Put the small box-end wrench over the bolt of the plug. Make sure that it’s about one or two sizes smaller than the original size of the plug. If the plug fits easily into the wrench without any resistance, it means you have to use a smaller wrench. The idea is to get the bolt into the wrench very tightly so you can achieve some grip and turn it. Once you have put the wrench over the bolt, use the hammer to fit the two parts together. Be careful when hammering since you might damage the oil pan. Use just enough force to make the oil pan plug fit into the smaller sized-wrench.

Step 3: Loosening the Oil Pan Plug

Now that you’ve already established a tight connection between the bolt and the smaller wrench, get the larger wrench or cheater bar and place it on the smaller wrench that is still stuck to the bolt. You will use this as leverage to turn the bolt. When everything is in place, slowly turn the wrench counterclockwise about one-half turn. At this point, you should feel the bolt turning and loosening. If the bolt isn’t turning at all and it slides inside the wrench, your small wrench is still too big and you may have to go one more size smaller and repeat Step 1.

Step 4: Removing the Oil Pan Plug

Now that you’ve already loosened the plug, it’s time to get it completely off. Fasten vice grips to the oil pan plug. Unscrew the bolt from its location using the grips until it becomes very loose. When it is loose enough to unscrew by hand, remove the vice grips and use your hands to finish the job.

Step 5: Finishing

Now that you have successfully removed your stuck oil pan plug, replace it with a new one and throw the old one out. But before you dispose of it, you can bring it to your local auto store as a sample when buying your new plug. This is to make sure that the oil pan plug that you will be purchasing is the right diameter and length.