How Tight Should An Oil Filter Be? Step-By-Step Guide On Changing It

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The oil filter should not be too tight or too loose to come off. The filter should be installed by first screwing it slowly using a hand. Once it sits in well, take the oil filter wrench and turn it to 90°. This way, the filter will fit securely without the chances of it being too tight.

However, it should not be too loose to unscrew with a hand without any resistance. Try to unscrew with your hand; if you can do so with some resistance, then the oil filter has the ideal tightness. This way, changing the oil next time will be stress-free.

How Tight Should An Oil Filter Be

Steps Of Changing The Oil And Its Filter

Car manufacturers recommend changing the oil filter every time the oil is changed.  The oil filter is an important component that keeps the dirt out of the oil to ensure it lubricates the engine well. The filter is located in the engine block, and you need new oil, a new filter, and an oil pan to change the part. Below is the process that will help you to get the work done stress-free:

Step 1: Get The Required Supplies

In order to change the oil and the filter, you will need the following:

1. Work gloves

2. Safety glasses

3. Hand cleaner

4. Ramps

5. Chucks

6. Clean rags

7. Funnel

8. Oil catch container

9. Type and amount of new oil as specified in your car service manual

10. New oil filter

11. Oil filter wrench set

Step 2: Run Your Car Engine

Running your car engine before draining the oil is important as warm oil drains faster. You need to do it only for a few minutes to avoid overheating the oil, which can potentially cause burns.

Step 3: Drive The Car Onto The Ramps

This is done to get the right view of the oil cap and loosen it accordingly. Ensure you apply the brakes, place chucks behind the rear wheels, and remove the car keys. Now put on your work gloves and safety glasses.

Step 4: Locate The Oil Fill Cap And Place The Oil Catch Container Below It

The oil cap is located underneath the engine block.  It is a square nut found in the lowest point of the oil pan. In case of any challenge, consult your service manual as some cars have drain plug near the crankshaft.

Step 5: Remove The Plug By Unscrewing By Hand Or Using A Square End Wrench

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Unscrew the plug while pushing it towards the catch container to ensure the oil doesn’t rush out. Also, be ready to move your hand fast once the plug is off so you cannot get covered by old oil. Note that the oil might be hot due to running of the engine before the oil is drained. Be careful!

Step 6: Drain The Old Oil

Remove the filler cap to allow the oil to drain faster as air can get in from the top. Locate the cap at the top of your car engine by checking the car service manual. It can take between 10 and 30 minutes to drain the oil completely.

Step 7: Replace The Oil Plug

Once the old oil is out, replace the oil plug and tighten it well while ensuring they are not cross-threaded. If your car plug has a gasket, then consider using a new one before putting the plug back.  Hand-tighten the plug, then use the wrench to secure it sits in well. Avoid over-tightening the plug to avoid issues during your next oil change.

Step 8: Remove The Old Oil Filter

Locate the oil filter that can be found at the top, bottom, or sides of the engine and attached to the engine block outlet. It is clearly labeled as an oil filter and can be orange, blue, white, or black. Move the oil catcher underneath the oil filter to collect any oil that drains out.

Now loosen the oil filter by hand until it comes off completely; if it doesn’t, then use a filter wrench and unscrew it clockwise. Once the filter is out,  put it face down in the catch container and leaves it to drain for one day. This is important to keep the environment safe; afterward, you can dispose of the old filter in your regular trash.

Now use a rag to wipe the mounting surface and check that the old gasket is not stuck in.

Step 9: Use Fresh Motor Oil To Lubricate The New Filter And Screw It To The Mounting Surface By Hand

Use your fingers to apply oil on the rubber ring around the base filter. This will help the filter fit tightly with no chances of leaks to the engine block. Check the engine block again to ascertain that the old filter’s gasket did not stick to it.

Place the new filter well on the mounting surface and spin it clockwise by hand until you feel some resistance when turning. You do not necessarily need to tighten using a wrench as the hand will get it done. However, you might give it a gentle turn of about 90° with a wrench to avoid loose-fitting.

Step 10: Pour New Oil Into The Engine

Open the oil fill cap to fill up the engine with new oil. Use a clean funnel to pour it as per the amount and type indicated in the owner’s manual. Pour the indicated amount as any addition can overfill the tank since the old oil might not have drained completely. Once you are done, remember to put the oil fill cap back.

Step 11: Run The Engine To Check On Any Leaks

Run the engine for a few minutes and then check around the filter and oil drain plug for any leaks. If you notice any, then stop the engine to fix it. If there is no leak, you should still switch off the engine and give it about two minutes for the oil to drain down.

Step 12: Check If The Oil Is Full

Remove the dipstick from the oil tank and wipe it off using a clean rag. Put it back and remove it to check the oil level if it reaches the ‘full mark.’ If it has not reached, add any remaining oil as indicated in the owner’s manual. Now remove the chucks and back off the ramps.

Step 13: Dispose Of The Old Filter And Oil Properly

Oil is not good for the environment, and you need to take it to the recycling center or authorized drop-off centers. You dispose of oil filters in any regular dustbin.

How Do I Know If My Oil Filter Is Too Tight?

Try to unscrew the oil filter with your hand to check its tightness. If you can do so with minimum resistance, then the filter is well fixed. However, if you can’t loosen it with your hand, then the filter is too tight, and you might need a wrench to loosen it. Using a wrench to tighten the filter can cause an overtightening presenting challenge in the next oil change. Besides, the tool can damage filter canister causing oil leaks.

Can I Remove The Oil Filter Without Draining The Oil?

Yes, the oil filter can be removed without draining the oil. The oil filter does not interfere with oil placement. Only oil trapped beyond the car’s anti-drain back gasket in the filter may come out. Thus, you might lose half or a whole quart of oil, depending on your car model. However, there will be no harm to the car, and thus, you can always change the filter without changing or draining the oil.

What Happens If You Don’t Change Your Oil For 10000 Miles?

It is normally advisable to change the oil regularly after 3,000 to 10,000 miles. The question is: what happens if you don’t do it after 10,000 miles. If you skip changing the oil or do it late, you risk reducing your car engine’s lifespan. You might end up incurring a lot of money to rebuild the engine or replace it all the same.

Oil undergoes thermal breakdown due to high engine temperatures. As a result, the oil ceases to be effective and does not lubricate the engine’s metal parts well over time. If the movable engine parts are not well-lubricated, they will rub against each other, causing premature wear and tear. Besides, the particles in the oil can start to settle and cause rust that damages the engine.

There will be a sludge build up as well if the oil is not changed on time. When the old oil begins to solidify or gel in an engine, it is difficult to flow freely. As a result, the camshafts, bearings, crankshafts, and other important valve train parts will not get oil, thus, damaging the engine. This can call for an engine rebuilt or total replacement.

Final Word

The oil filter is an important component that removes any contaminant from the engine’s oil. This ensures that the oil is always clean to keep the engine at its optimum. The filter should be hand screwed as overtightening can damage the part and make it difficult to change it during the next oil replacement. Loose filters also present a challenge as it can cause a leak. Thus, you should hand-tighten the filter until it cannot turn any more, nor be loose to be hand screwed without resistance.

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