If you’ve never changed the oil in your life, the process can get confusing easily. Moreover, you’ll be unaware of the set of tools needed to perform the work.

So, do you need a torque wrench to change oil?

Well, if you want to use the wrench on your drain plug, you can use it. However, some problems can arise from using the wrench in drain plugs. Hence, many don’t end up taking this route and don’t use a wrench to change the oil.

do you need a torque wrench to change oil

What problems may occur?

If you use the wrench too tightly on the drain plug, you may over tighten it. As a result, the bolts get tightened too much and you might even cause a thread to get stripped.

But don’t worry, we’ve got your back. In fact, we’ve shown everything you need to know about this matter. Moreover, we’ve tried to show how you can use a torque wrench and the impacts of it on drain plugs.

So, without any further ado, let’s begin.

How to Change Oil? (Without a Torque Wrench)

Before knowing whether you’ll need a torque wrench or not, let’s look at how you can change the oil.


Yes, you’ll require a set of tools for the job. Don’t worry, they’re all really affordable. Let’s take a look:

  • Rags (Link from Amazon)
  • Rubber mallet (Link from Amazon)
  • Safety glasses (Link from Amazon)
  • Wrench set (Link from Amazon)
  • Container (Link from Amazon)


  • Engine oil (Link from Amazon)
  • Oil filter (Link from Amazon)
  • Oil filter gasket (Link from Amazon)

Step 1: Buy Right Oil & Filters

Yes, you heard me right. You can’t enjoy both the worlds when it comes to saving money and buying the right oil for the car. Hence, invest in a high-quality oil and oil filter.

Also, check the owner’s manual of the car and have an idea about the oil type and filter of your car.

Step 2: Pull Oil Plug & Remove Oil Filter

Firstly, pull the oil plug and so that the old oil spills down. However, make sure you’ve kept a clean sheet under the car when you’re pulling the oil plug.

As a result, all the oil will spill on that sheet and you can throw it later when you’re done. After you’re done with this, crank the old oil filter off as well. Here, make sure you’re also removing the old gasket.

Step 3: Tighten Drain Plug & Install New Oil Filter

Here, you’ll need to tighten the drain plug using the wrench set. Make sure you’re using a wrench from the box set and you’re gently tightening the plug. At times, people tend to over tighten the plug which causes many issues.

After you’re done, install the new oil filter in your car. On the other hand, if you want to reduce the oil vapors, install an oil catch can.

Step 4: Add New Oil & Check the Level

Lastly, add in the new oil for your car. You can use a funnel in here so that you don’t spill the oil by any chance. After you’re done, check the oil level to ensure that everything is okay.

How Tight Oil Drain Plug?

By now, you’ll know that you need a wrench to tighten the oil plug. But wait, let me tell you something.

The drain plug doesn’t have to be that much tightened. In fact, you don’t even require a wrench to do it. As a matter of fact, many people only use their hands to tighten it. But, the wrench is a useful tool and you should have it in your toolbox.

So, how much should we tighten this plug?

In my own experience, the plug shouldn’t be super tight. Because if you tighten the drain plug too much, it can cause the threads to break.

Moreover, these split threads can cause leakage to happen. As a result, it’s not ideal if you over tighten a drain plug. Well, there are no numeric terms to identify how tight the plug has to be.

But, you’ll get the hang of it by doing it a few times. In the end, we’d suggest that you should never tighten it too much if you want to avoid leakage of oil.

On the other hand, oil leakage causes many things in cars and other equipment. It can also cause a pressure washer pump oil milky. So, it’s better you take care of it.

Is it Necessary for Using a Torque Wrench to Change Oil?

So, we’ve already shown you how you can change oil without a torque wrench. But if you’re curious and you want to know the answer then hear us out.

Honestly, the torque wrench is a great tool. But, you don’t need it to change the oil. In fact, the manufacturers and mechanics don’t recommend using a torque wrench on the drain plug of the car.

What could be the reasons for it?

Well, there are reasons why the mechanics suggest an oil filter wrench instead of a torque wrench. Let’s look at the reasons, shall we?

â—    Over tightens the Drain Plug

If you don’t have any experience in changing oil then you can easily mess up the drain plug. Normally, you shouldn’t tighten the plug too hard as it can mess up the threads. Moreover, it can also cause oil leakage to happen as it splits the thread.

Turns out, the impact wrench oil drain plug can cause it to get tightened easily. As a result, the thread splits and the oil leak will start to leak.

On the other hand, many people use a torque wrench on drain plugs and they eventually get the job done. But, you need to know that these people have a lot of experience in changing oil. And, if you’re new to this, you can easily mess this up and cause more problems.

â—    Alternative Tools Works Fine

Yes, you heard me right. Torque Wrenches aren’t necessary for changing the oil in your car. In fact, other tools perform even better than it. If you haven’t used a torque wrench on your drain plug, it’s not advisable to use it until you gain experience.

And besides, you can hand tighten the plugs as that’ll work too. On the other hand, there are other great tools like the oil filter wrench set, ratchet, and socket set. These tools will work fine.

Even though the torque wrench is a great tool to have, you don’t need it to change the oil. And if you already have a torque wrench and you’re wondering where to use it, go for head bolts and tranny pan bolts.

How to Use a Torque Wrench on the Drain Plug?

Even though it’s not ideal to use a torque wrench on a drain plug, you can still use it by taking some guidelines. In fact, many people have used it for their drain plugs and haven’t damaged any bolts.

So, if you can properly set the measurements, you won’t over tighten the bolts. As a result, your work will be done easily. Well, you’re in luck as we’ve shown you how you can use the torque wrench on the plug. Let’s look at the steps:

Method 1: Holding the Wrench

When you’re using smaller bolts, don’t hold the end of the wrench. Because at the end of the wrench, there is always maximum leverage.

Instead of holding the end, grab the handle of the wrench. You should be almost 6†from the center of the wrench. This won’t over tighten the bolts and you can feel the tightening of the bolts.

Method 2: Using on the Drain Plug

When you’re using the torque wrench on the drain plug, you don’t need to have the exact torque. If you have around 30-35ft lbs., it’ll be fine with the drain plug.

On the other hand, if the operating range is right, 3/8†is correct for the drain plugs. But, what does the right operating range mean?

It means that the torque value is around 60% of the total range of the wrench. If you still can’t identify if your wrench is clicking under these circumstances, get it replaced.

Apart from this, the correct way to use a torque wrench on a drain plug is a smooth pull until the “click†occurs. Whenever the click occurs, you’ll have to stop immediately.

However, in these circumstances, people try to pull even more. And they even jerk the tool which results in inaccurate readings. Moreover, people don’t stop after the click happens and try another time.

As a result, they over tighten the bolts of the drain plug and damage the threads. Hence, leakage happens. So, if you’re using a torque wrench and the first click occurs, trust it and stop pulling.

What’s the Best Torque Wrench for a Changing Oil?

You don’t need any definite torque wrench for the drain plug. However, the 3/8†wrenches are too big for pans. These wrenches have a big 14-18†handle in them. As a result, you won’t feel anything with them without the click.

But, if you have a small 6-8†ratchet, you’ll feel everything. Hence, if you’re over-tightening the bolts, you’ll get the feeling when you’re using this. But, you won’t notice anything with the 3/8†wrenches.


Well, that’s it. We tried to share everything related to this matter in our article. In the end, we’d like to suggest that you don’t need a torque wrench for changing oil. But, if you want to use one, we’ve also shown how you can use it.

So, do you need a torque wrench to change the oil? Only you can decide on it. Just don’t over tighten the bolts and you’re good to go. Good Luck.

Similar Posts