The oil drain plug is positioned at the bottom of the engine, beneath the oil pan. You must replace engine oil as it ages, and the old oil must be flushed out by removing the oil drain plug. Sometimes the oil drain plug is difficult to remove or becomes stuck.

Sludge buildup or over-tightening of the oil drain plug might make removing it difficult. Let’s explore what led the oil drain plug to become stuck and how to fix it.

Which way do you turn the oil drain plug to loosen it?

You may loosen the oil drain cap by turning it counterclockwise using a wrench. Once it’s free, you may easily remove it with your hand. However, the oil drain plug will likely be stuck if the wrench is difficult to twist, even with extra power.

In this instance, using too much effort may result in the threads of the oil drain plug breaking. Similar is the case with tight oil filters, as installing them can be tricky.

Before we remove it, let us look at what is causing the oil drain stopper to become difficult.

What causes the oil drain plug to get stuck?

1. Over Tightened plug

Overtightening the oil plug can damage its screw pitch and make it difficult to remove the next time. This can happen due to the dealership’s over-tightened oil plug or careless oil change.

Dealerships utilize soft washers or polymer gaskets to tighten the oil drain plug correctly, which might cause threads on the drain plug to break. Over-Tightening the plug may also cause damage to the oil pan or plug. In that case, replacing it is the only option. Before you do that, you need to figure out how to remove the overtightened oil plug just to avoid those extra costs.

2. Sludge Buildup

Over time, dirt and debris clog the engine oil as the engine oil oxidizes at high temperatures and the molecules of engine oil mix with dirt in the engine. This dirt containing carbon, fuel, and metallic components forms a sticky sludge near the cap. Sludge then accumulates under the oil drain plug. As a result, removing the oil drain plug is difficult.

3. Rusting 

Moisture can enter the engine if it is not started for a long time. The iron parts oxidize if the oil drain plug is exposed to oxygen and moisture. This can cause rust to form at the layer of the oil drain plug. Rusting usually occurs when a vehicle is not maintained correctly or is too old.

How to remove a stuck drain plug?

First, start the engine and allow it to warm up for a few minutes. Then, park the car and raise it with a hydraulic jack.

Before removing the oil drain plug, keep these things in mind:

  1. Make sure you wear gloves, long sleeve cloth, and safety glasses.
  2. Oil will drain as soon as the oil drain plug is removed. Use a bucket to collect the drained engine oil.
  3. It must be replaced if you discover any damage to the threads or gaskets of the oil drain plug.

Try to remove the oil drain cap using a tool or hand first. Try twisting it clockwise or anticlockwise. If it is still stuck, please try the methods listed below.

Method 1

  1. Apply penetrating oil (like WD-40) on the oil drain plug.
  2. Allow the penetrating oil to settle for a few hours.
  3. Tap the oil drain plug with a small hammer anticlockwise.
  4. Once the oil drain plug has been loosened, remove it with a hand or torque wrench.

Method 2

  1. Apply a rust remover or lubricant to the oil drain plug.
  2. Scrub the rust from the oil drain plug with a scrub brush.
  3. Use a heat gun to melt any remaining rust or sludge. The metal expands as it heats, which might cause the plug to come loose. When it gets colder, it shrinks back to its normal size.
  4. Use socket wrenches, hammer taps, or breaker bars for more torque.

FAQ’s on Stuck Oil Drain Plug

No, the drain plugs are not universal. The standard size for Oil Drain Plugs is 7/8-16. The thread pitch may be the same, but the oil drain plug size may vary across the engine.

No, the drain plugs are not readily damaged. Therefore, they can endure longer. Oil drain plug often lasts for more than 100,000 miles. Rust may cause the oil drain plug to need to be replaced. This can happen if the car has been sitting for a long time or driven carelessly.


To sum up, an oil drain plug might get jammed owing to sludge or rust accumulation. A penetrating oil and rust remover spray can assist in removing the buildup. Overtightening the oil cap can also damage the threads, making it harder to twist. If the drain plug cannot be removed, contact a professional. In the worst-case scenario, the entire oil pan must be replaced.

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