If you overtighten the oil pan drain plug, it can strip the bolt and make it difficult to remove. In some cases you may have to replace the oil pan and plug. This article and video reviews what happens when you overtighten an oil pan drain plug bolt and how to remove and fix a rounded or stripped oil drain plug.
Why Is the Oil Drain Plug Stripped and Stuck?
The Oil Pan Drain Plug Was Overtightened and Stripped
If you over tighten the oil pan drain plug it can strip the threads. This can happen, for example, if you tighten the bolt by turning it clockwise when you intend to loosen it. It’s important to make sure you’re tightening and loosening the oil pan bolt properly so it doesn’t strip.
In the video above, our mechanic Andrew overtightens the bolt so much it becomes a little looser than when installed initially. The bolt is now stripped, is difficult to remove, may not remove from the oil pan.
The Wrong Tools Were Used
You can also round and strip the bolt if you use the wrong tools to remove and install it, like using an under-sized socket or tightening the bolt without a torque wrench.
How to Properly Install an Oil Drain Plug Bolt
Use the Right Tools
Use the right tools like a socket or wrench to remove the drain plug.
Turn the Oil Plug Bolt Counterclockwise to Loosen
Turn the bolt counterclockwise to loosen it and make sure you’re turning the wrench clockwise so you don’t accidently overtighten and strip the drain plug.
Check the Threads on the Drain Plug
With the plug removed, check the threads and make sure they are in good condition and not stripped. If they are, the drain plug will have to be replaced.
Check the Rubber or Metal Gasket
Check for tearing or wear and replace the plug if it has a worn gasket. Replace any metal gaskets that go with the oil pan plug.
Turn the Plug Clockwise to Tighten It and Torque It to Spec
Tighten the oil pan plug by turning it clockwise without overtightening it, and torque the drain pan bolt to the manufacturer’s specifications. Stop tightening the bolt once the torque wrench clicks.
This video has tips on changing the oil, including how to correctly install an oil drain pan bolt after removing old oil.
How to Remove a Stripped or Stuck Oil Drain Plug
Steps on how to remove a stripped oil pan drain plug
- Remove the Stripped Bolt with a Wrench, a Socket and Ratchet, or Vice Grips
The right-sized wrench or socket and ratchet should remove a stripped oil pan bolt. You may have to apply upward force and wedge the bolt out also with a tool like a screwdriver. Attaching vice grips to the bolt, turning them and pulling out, and tapping it with a hammer if needed may help remove it
- Remove a Rounded Oil Pan Bolt with a Bolt Extractor Socket
A bolt extractor socket is specially designed to grip the socket and release it. You may have to gently hammer the socket on to secure it, and then turn it with a ratchet to release the stuck bolt.
- Drill the Stripped Bolt Out
If the bolt is still stuck, drill the bolt out straight down the center with a smal drill bit. Drilling in reverse may pull the bolt out. You may also have to drill another slightly larger hole and remove the bolt with a bolt extractor.
- Replace the Oil Pan
If the bolt won’t release and is still stripped and stuck, or if the bolt did remove but damaged the oil pan, the oil pan will need to be replaced.
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