How do I get the drain plug out after turning a hex nut into a ROUND nut?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 1999

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have been changing my oil every 2,500 miles religiously for close to 20 years. On a recent oil-change attempt on my 1993 Toyota Camry (notice I said "attempt"), I
was unable to get the oil drain plug out of the oil pan. In the process of trying, I removed most of the six sides of the hex nut, so now it is essentially round. Now how do
I get the drain plug out? -- Jeff

TOM: Easy. You need a round wrench!

RAY: Actually, what you need is a pair of Vise-Grips, Jeff. You need something that will clamp down really hard on the outside of the hex nut and actually create two
parallel edges for itself. Then once you get it out, obviously, you throw that drain plug away and replace it with a new one.

TOM: If you can't manage to get it out yourself, take it to a nearby garage. A mechanic there ought to be able to heat it up with a propane torch, melt the drain plug
gasket and then just before the car catches fire, he ought to be able to remove the drain plug with his Vise-Grips.

RAY: Two suggestions for the future, Jeff. First, be careful not to overtighten the drain plug from now on. You've probably been overtightening drain plugs every
2,500 miles for the past 20 years. And that's how most plugs get stripped.

TOM: And the second piece of advice is to cut back your oil changes to every 5,000 miles. Today's oil and engines are much better than they've ever been, and every
5,000 miles is plenty often. That ought to save you money on oil and filters, and at least double the amount of time between your drain plug strippings.

It's amazing how many bad driving habits and wacko theories have been passed down from generation to generation! Tom and Ray set the record straight in their booklet
"Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Even Knowing It!" To order, send $3 and a stamped (55 cents), self-addressed, No. 10 envelope to Ruin, PO Box
6420, Riverton, NJ 08077-6420.

?(C) 1999 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One