How to Change an Oil Filter

How to Change a Oil Filter Advance Auto

How to Change an Oil Filter and Other Related Instructions

The question of how to change an oil filter can be important if you don’t want to run to an auto mechanic with every little problem you encounter. Aside from convenience, it also presents the opportunity of saving time and money, since it will take a while to get your car to a mechanic, and changing the oil filter can also cost anything from a $25 minimum to up to $70 when synthetic oil is used. Fortunately, the process is simple and easy to learn.

Using a Special Oil Filter Wrench

The proper removal of the old oil filter is essential for a successful operation. In order to start, make sure you have a special oil filter wrench. You can try a chain wrench, sleeve-type wrench or strap wrench for the job, and a reliable socket wrench can also be used. In a pinch, you can just stab a large screwdriver right through the outer shell of the oil filter and turn.

The main purpose of the wrench is to ensure greater speed and efficiency, since most oil filters cannot be removed by hand because of the thin film of grease and oil that they are coated with. Wearing latex gloves or work gloves, you can then use the wrench to unscrew the oil plug and remove your existing oil filter.

The Importance of Changing the Oil

Before moving to the main instructions for how to change an oil filter, it is important to note the importance of draining the old oil as efficiently as possible. Your vehicle’s oil is likened to the blood in a living organism, and frequent oil changes are not only important for smooth operation, but also essential for getting the best service life out of the engine.

The oil will drain one way or another during the process of removing the old filter, so it is best to prepare. Use paper towels or rags to wipe off the filter, then place a drain pan or a plastic bowl below the filter to allow the oil to drain. Once you use the wrench to loosen the old filter, always keep the catch pan close to the filter’s sides to prevent unwanted spillage.

Initial Steps for Changing Your Oil Filter

Run the engine for several minutes before the oil change, so that any contaminants will have circulated in the hot oil before you drain it (rather than being stuck in the oil pump or the pan). Before removing the oil filter, you have to locate the oil drain plug and place your drain pan below it to collect the draining oil. Use your owner’s service manual to locate and identify this component, then use a wrench to loosen it. Once the plug is loosened, you can easily remove it using nothing but your hand, however, be careful to position the pan correctly, knowing that the oil will drain at an angle. Once all the oil is drained, replace the plug and tighten it by hand.

Remove the Old Filter and Replace It

You are now ready to remove the old oil filter and put the new one in its place. After having drained all the oil out of your existing filter, use the oil filter wrench to carefully remove it. Use a rag to make sure the mounting surface of the engine is clean. Next, take the new oil filter, lubricate it by coating the seal with fresh oil, then screw the seal back on, and tighten the oil filter into position. Fill the new filter with about ½ quart of oil so it will be pre-loaded when the engine starts. When replacing the filter, screw it on hand-tight, then no more than another ¼ or ½ turn. It’s important to NOT overtighten the new filter; its thick gasket is soft rubber that can easily deform if tightened too much and can cause a leak.

Pour in New Oil and Start It Up

Using a clean funnel, pour new oil in carefully to avoid overfilling, then remember to replace the cap after completing the process. Next, run the engine for a few minutes, and check for leaks. If you identify a leak, turn the engine off immediately, and try to identify where the leak is coming from. If all  goes well, the filter will be securely in place, and there will be no leakage. Simply check the oil level one more time to make sure it’s in the green. Now that you know how to change an oil filter, make sure you replace the oil and filter in your vehicle on a regular basis, to avoid malfunctions and high service costs in the future.

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Last updated June 6, 2018