Introduction: How to Remove a Stuck or Seized Oil Dipstick
Tutorial on how to remove a stuck or seized engine oil dipstick. This is a method which will help avoid breaking the plastic handle which would then require a replacement. So unfortunately on my 2007 Volvo C30, the dipstick most likely wasn’t removed in a very long time and considering my car is due for an oil change, I need to be able to remove my dipstick in order to check the level. These can seized up over time is the o-rings become swelled, they dry out and stick in the metal tube, or the inside of the metal tube forms some corrosion. Do not force it as you can break off the plastic handle and this can be more complicated to remove.
- clean rag
- penetrating oil
- heat gun
- heat shield
- ratchet set
As you can see this car has somewhat of a tight space, there is no need to remove the whole tube assembly, I will be doing this procedure right in place. Remove any components which may make accessing it a little hard. For this I will be using heat in order to help assist it out.
Typically these will have a slight opening around the top edge between the dipstick plastic casing and the metal dipstick tube. Using a penetrating oil, apply it around the edge so it’s able to weep inside, this will provide some lubrication for the o-rings for easier removal.
Considering this is such a tight space to work, I am also used a shield to help protect any surrounding components from the heat so nothing gets damaged. This is just an aluminum expandable duct, similar to what you may find for a dryer vent. It can be easily formed and the size is adjustable. I have also cut the one side open so the diameter is adjustable too.
Next using a head gun, heat up the top of the metal tube as this is where the seals are located for the dipstick. Do not heat up the plastic handle as you may melt or damage it. A small propane torch can be used if you’re extremely careful. Oil is flammable and we are working within close proximately with other components, so a heat gun is certainly a much more safer route.
After a minute, try to pull up the dipstick. If you are still having issues, apply more oil as needed and continue to heat the area. As you can see mine is already removed.
Clean away any build up on the dipstick using a clean rag. I don’t recommend sticking anything inside of the dipstick tube unless it has been removed from the engine. Usually removing the dipstick a few times should help loosen up it’s fitment. If the o-rings are damaged, then replace as needed.
Apply an oil to the sealing surface, typically I just use engine oil for this. It’s important to keep this area well lubricated and the engine oil should be checked at least once a month, maybe more if you drive your vehicle more often. Constant use will also help prevent the dipstick from sticking or seizing as well.
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