Oil Drain Plug Spins But Won’t Come Out [3 Easy Solutions]

Your oil drain plug spins but won’t come out because it’s either rounded or stripped. The three easy fixes to get rid of this problem is to use a blow torch or bolt extractors or a vise grip.

Keep reading this article to find out how each of these steps works. We’ve covered all the steps you need to take in detail in this guide. 

Oil Drain Plug Spins But Won’t Come Out [3 Easy Solutions]

Before you try out the steps to get the drain plug out, give it your best to pull the drain plug. Most drain plugs can be pulled out by a 17 mm socket. Don’t cheap out on using sockets. Using a good brand socket will prevent the bolt from getting rounded.

If you’re using a wrench, don’t use the open end of the wrench. The open end of the wrench can make the bolt rounded. Use the box end instead as it’ll grab the bolt from all sides.

What do I do if my oil drain plug is stripped? Follow these tips to unscrew your oil drain bolt.

Note: You can also read how to remove the Stuck spark plug from the aluminum head.

1. Use A Blow Torch

If you have a blow torch at your disposal, it’s going to come in handy. Apply heat to the bolt using the blow torch. Doing that should loosen up the bolt and it’ll give you the best chance to pull it out.

After heating it, try to take it out using the ring end of the wrench. If it works, you’re good. If not, you can move on to the next tips.

2. Use Bolt Extractors

Bolt extractors are great tools to help you take unscrew the drain plug. They’re the ideal choice if the drain plug is rounded. You need a bolt extractor, hammer, and ratchet for this procedure.

The bolt extractor digs deep into the nut and removes it. Here are the steps you can follow to take out the drain plug using a bolt extractor:

  • Apply the bolt extractor so that it is covering the bolt.
  • Push the bolt extractor all the way in using a hammer.
  • Be careful not to crack your aluminum pan while doing this.
  • Keep the bolt extractor as straight as possible when you’re beating it with the hammer.
  • Use a ratchet to rotate the bolt extractor and bolt once you get in as far as possible.
  • Make sure the ratchet is straight when you rotate it.
  • The bolt will start to move and you’ll be able to pull it out.

The bolt extractors are widely available in most hardware shops. You can also purchase bolt extractor kits from Amazon. It’s a low-cost solution to get your drain plug out.

3. Use A Vise-Grip

It’s frustrating to see that the oil drain plug makes a free turn in both the right and left directions. But it won’t come out. This happens when the drain plug is stuck with the drain pan.

Here are the steps you can follow to pull out the drain plug:

  • Use a vise grip and place it tightly to your drain plug.
  • Use the vise grip to turn the drain plug.
  • Get a feel of which spot is tight when you turn the drain plug.
  • Stop at the tight spot when you locate it.
  • Pull the vise grip hard with all your effort to pull out the drain plug.
  • Turn the vise grip to your left when you pull it out.
  • The drain plug will come out.

You should use the vise grip after exploring the other methods. Remember that vise grips will make the drain plug bolt stripped or rounded. It would be best to replace the bolt once you get it out with a vise grip.

Can’t Unscrew Oil Drain Plug?

The solutions we discussed were the easy fixes you can try if your oil drain plug won’t unscrew. If these don’t work, there’s bad news for you. You either have to drill a hole in your oil pan or replace it completely.

Drill a hole near the original drain plug and drain the oil from that hole. Use another built to seal the oil pan. This solution is ideal if you have an old engine as it’s difficult to find new oil pans for such cars anyway.

Replacing the oil pan is the most expensive of all the options. But if all the other methods fail, there’s nothing else to do. You can either replace the oil pan or stop driving the vehicle.


How do you know if you have over tightened oil drain plug?

Once you’ve placed the bolt and tightened it by hand, grab a wrench. Turn it about one-fourth of the spin and you’re done. Any more than that means that you’re overtightening the bolt.

How to tell if your oil drain plug is stripped?

There will be a lot of grooves in the drain plug. It’ll look faded and rounded if it’s stripped. When you try to tighten it, it’ll keep spinning but not tighten.

How to prevent an oil drain plug from becoming stripped?

Only use the ring end of the wrench to unscrew the drain plug. You can also use silicone to prevent the bolt from rusting.

Is it safe to drive with a stripped oil drain plug?

A stripped drain plug is a serious issue that can lead to engine failure. A stripped oil plug causes oil leakage and allows contaminants to get into the engine. You should never drive with a stripped oil drain plug.

Why is my oil drain plug stuck?

The most common causes that make your drain plug stuck are the build-up of sludge in your engine oil or overtightening the bolt.

Which way to turn the oil drain plug?

If you want to loosen the oil drain plug, you need to turn it to the left or counterclockwise direction. To tighten it, turn it to the right.


Now you know why the oil drain plug spins but won’t come out. We’ve shown you how to get a tight oil drain plug out in this guide. Using heat and bolt extractors will be enough if you’re lucky.

You may have to dig a hole or replace your oil pan if you’re unfortunate. Replacing the oil pan is expensive. So, only use it as a  last resort solution if everything else fails. Leave a comment below if you have any questions.

About John M

John contributed as a technical head at an automobile company just 2 years after his post-graduation in Automobile Engineering. He loves to lead a free life, so he left his job & started blogging. Now, he does research on every automotive problem, part & product and seeks a better solution & best products & shares his findings with his readers to help them as well as to minimize their struggle.

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