How to Guides

How To Replace An Oil Filter

Wil Parker posted this on May 20, 2014

How To Replace An Oil Filter

Replacing the oil filter in your vehicle is just as important as changing the oil.  The oil is circulating through the engine and lubricating vital parts like the valves, pistons and cylinder walls, crankshaft bearings, and camshafts and connecting rod.  All of these parts rely on fluidity in order to perform efficiently and without breaking.  The intense heat that they generate necessitates that they be bathed in motor oil consistently while the engine is running.  As the motor oil moves over them it will pick up any engine debris, such as metal particles and dirt, where they will be held in suspension until getting trapped and removed by the oil filter.

Why Does The Oil Filter Need To Be Changed?

The filter media of a good oil filter is designed to trap particles that are between 10 and 20 microns.  These are considered to be the most damaging to your engine as they are still small enough to fit through the tight engine space and large enough to gouge the surface of bearings and cylinders.  Over time, those trapped particles can do the same to the filter media, allowing them to then pass right through to the engine.  

When Should You Change Your Oil Filter?

For every mile you drive, the same oil will pass through the engine four times.  That means when you reach 3,000 miles that engine oil has made its journey around your engine 12,000 times.  This is when most mechanics recommend changing the oil and the oil filter.  The oil filter should be changed every time the engine oil is.  Otherwise it is like you taking a bath in dirty water.  As soon as you start driving the contaminants that are trapped inside the old oil filter will begin to compromise the integrity of your brand new oil.   

Before getting started on changing the oil filter you will want to purchase the right replacement oil filter for your vehicle. carries a full line of high-quality oil filters and makes it easy to find the right one that is a perfect fit for your vehicle.  Once you have the part, you are ready to get started on replacing it. 

Tools For the Job:

  1. A box wrench or adjustable filter wrench
  2. A clean towel
  3. A small plastic container
  4. Work gloves


Getting The Job Done:

  1. Locate the filter underneath the hood of your car.  It will either be on the side of the engine block or at an angle on the bottom of the motor.
  2. Remove the oil filter.  Have the plastic container ready as the old filter will still have remnants of oil inside.  While most newer vehicles will have a filter that is a threaded cartridge and can be taken off with the adjustable filter wrench, older models may have a retaining nut that require a box wrench to remove it.
  3. Once the old filter has been removed clean the filter sitting area on the engine so that it is free of any oil and debris.  This ensures that the new oil filter will form a proper seal with the engine.  Sometimes pieces of the rubber seal from the old oil filter will be left behind.  Be sure to remove any traces of those as well.
  4. Before installing the new oil filter, grease the surface of the sealing ring with fresh oil.  Not only does this ensure a good seal, it will protect the gasket from distorting as you are tightening it.  Screw on the new filter just so that the two surfaces are touching.  Make a small grease mark on the outside of the filter and then turn it 3/4 of a full turn.  This should be adequate torque to create a seal that is not going to leak.
  5. Keep in mind that used oil filters cannot simply be thrown in the trash.  The same place that accepts your used motor oil should also accept the filter.  If not, contact your local municipality on the proper way to dispose of it.
  6. You can also see how changing the oil filter is done by watching this video.  This not only covers how to change the filter but the oil as well.  With all of this information right at your fingertips you should have no trouble at all replacing an old oil filter.
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