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Specialty tools for a given engine family drive me nuts. Is it really that difficult to design something which works with thousands of preexisting tools? Unfortunately, General Motors didn’t do that with their Ecotec engines’ oil filter caps, which are so common that nearly every mechanic is going to run into one at some point. Ecotecs have an unusual cartridge-style filter design. Instead of a paper filter element contained in a disposable metal casing, there’s an aluminum housing cast into the block which accepts a standalone paper filter, and it’s covered by a plastic cap with unusual artillery-pattern threads and a 32mm male hex on top.

Strictly speaking, you don’t need this socket to change the filter, but 32mm is a relatively uncommon size, and a metal socket will certainly cost more than the $5.70 RestockIt.com charges for this plastic 3/8in-drive Lisle. Yes, plastic is a strange material for sockets, but the low torque spec for that cap simply doesn’t require metal, and the low-profile design neatly sidesteps clearance issues. While Lisle’s description states that the socket is for 2.2 L engines, it should work for the whole Ecotec family. If you own an Ecotec-powered car and don’t need a 32 mm socket for anything else (like the same engine’s camshaft chain tensioner), this could be $6 well spent next time an oil change rolls around.

Lisle LIS14700 Ecotec Oil Filter Socket [RestockIt.com]

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15 Responses to Socket To The Filter

  1. Eric R says:

    completely awesome… For some reason the engineers started with the oil filter then built the engine on top of it. I’m sure they snicker everytime some curses at them.

  2. JT says:

    If I remember correctly 32mm is also the size of the axle nuts on my Civic. And there are rabbits and jettas with the same style filter housing.
    A 32 mm socket made of metal is only 14 bucks at Autozone too.

  3. tscheez says:

    MINI and I think BMW have been using this style filter for a long time.

  4. KMR says:

    Oil filters of the 30s/40s/50s even early 60s were like this depending on the vehicle. Anyone with an old MG (upto the 60s) or Triumph (upto mid-1970s) should be familiar with something like this (the housing isn’t exactly part of the block, but they’re not self-contained disposable filters like we have today).

    Also, GM uses the same system on current Cadillac SRX models and I would imagine other GM vehicles had adopted this system too.

  5. Jim German says:

    My sockets go all the way up to 36mm, wouldn’t have a problem with that, or the BMW one (which incidentally is a 36mm).

  6. ShopMonger says:

    Be mindful of what you say….haa haa haa haa
    “Strictly speaking, you don’t need this socket to change the filter,” on some models now you must have this socket, because of where the brackets are you cannot get a normal socket in there, and you don’t have room for a wrench. SO you get the low profile set from Lisle and you slide the socket on first, then put your 6″ 3/8 drive extension on then use the ratchet. There are several models and makes that have gone to this. especially ones that have gone to a cartridge filter, versus the old standby screw on ones. What a great job these engineers do……… Maybe there should be a pre-requisit for these guys to have to work on them before they design them, or atleast work on them after the protype is made…


  7. techieman33 says:

    Cartridge filters are getting pretty common. And 32mm isn’t that uncommon of a socket my mercury mountaineer (ford explorer) needs for for the cv axle nuts. 1 1/4″ will do the trick too.

  8. ambush says:

    36mm is more common for cartridge filters, they can be seen on Ford diesels, BMW’s, and Volvo’s, maybe more. The worst I’ve seen was on some kind of GM, I think, a 3.5 litre in an Oldsmobile or Buick. It wasn’t a hex shape or the normal kind of filter socket shape, it looked like a knob. Its not used on anything else as far as I know.

  9. Kris says:

    I had a ’71 Saab that had this kind of filter. The real bugger was trying to get the old seal out of the housing. I shudder thinking of it. A spin on for me any day! I’m tired of car companies trying to save $.03 at the expense of the DIY mechanic. It makes we want to grab the engineer who designed it, give him a good shake and yell “What the **** were you thinking!”

  10. Jay S says:

    My bmw 3 series had this – it made changing the oil SO easy. I put the car on ramps, unscrewed the drain, opened the hood and right there on top was the oil filter housing. unscrewed it, pulled the filter out, new one in and closed it up. Drain plug in and refill with oil. Easiest oil change ever.

    The next easiest was the straight six I had in my ’73 chevy c10

  11. Melvin says:

    “It makes we want to grab the engineer who designed it, give him a good shake and yell “What the **** were you thinking!””

    A cartridge filter is easier to recycle than a spin on and disposal costs are less.

  12. Mitch says:

    Is there an engineering reason they’re going with cartridge instead of spin on filters? That they filter better or perform better or some such? The usual reason of being cheaper wouldn’t seem to apply in this case. The housing would cost the manufacturer a lot more to make than buying a spin on filter.

  13. Zathrus says:

    The expense does apply — if the oil changes are done at the dealership and they charge the same for an oil change then the profit margin is fatter.

    And, as noted, it’s an environmental issue, which car companies are increasingly crowing about.

  14. miles says:

    up at work i have a snapon 32mm ground-down to meet the height clearance. i have never understood the mind of an engineer.

  15. Mitch says:

    Except car manufacturers don’t care that the dealer is making more profit.

    I can’t believe manufacturer’s care that much about environment to absorb the expense of this rather hidden, unadvertised part. Obviously they care to advertise the hybrid and fuel economy and the sexier aspects of going green.

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