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Replacing an oil filter: all that you need to know

best oil filters

If you're looking for replacing an oil filter, follow these simple steps:

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  • Step #1: Drain the old oil
  • Step #2: Locate the old oil filter and remove it
  • Step #3: Install the new oil filter
  • Step #4: Fill your engine oil
  • Step #5: Give your vehicle a test drive

There are many components in your car interacting to provide you with the best driving experience. Some of these components are major, like the engine and the transmission. For these components to work properly, they rely on a list of minor components that must be in good condition to prevent and protect the major components.

The oil filter is one of the minor components responsible for protecting the engine from any foreign particles that could, as the oil runs around the engine. Replacing the oil filter is not a complicated job, and this article provides you with a step-by-step procedure on how to replace your oil filter.

What is the oil filter, and what does it do?

As the name suggests, the oil filter is responsible for filtering out any contaminants or debris and preventing them from getting to the engine. These small particles and contaminants can cause severe damages to your engine and cost you thousands of dollars in repair. Therefore, it is a must to maintain a good functioning oil filter for your engine's health.

Over time of use, the oil filter can get partially or completely clogged with cheese that's you'll have to replace it immediately. Otherwise, you'll deal with some unpleasant consequences that might impact your driving experience and might prevent you from starting the engine at all in some severe scenarios.

Replacing an oil filter: a step by step on how to change an oil filter!

Replacing an oil filter is not a complicated job, and it doesn't require advanced mechanical skill sets to be done. Therefore, to save yourself a lot of time and money on labor costs, you can easily follow these steps to replace your oil filter:

  1. Drain the old oil

To replace the oil filter, you must first drain the old oil so you can access the filter without any spills. Therefore, you must prepare a bucket big enough to fit all the old oil and place it underneath the vehicle where the oil drain plug is.

Loosen the oil fill cap

Experts recommend loosening the oil fill cap to help release the pressure and drain the old oil faster and easier. Keep in mind that you are not recommended to start the process unless your engine is completely cold because there is a very high chance that this oil might be extremely hot, putting your life at risk.

Allow the engine to cool down

Typically, you want to leave the engine turned off for at least 30 minutes before starting any procedure unless the engine is already cold. However, if the engine is already cold, it’s recommended to run for at least two to three minutes, so all the oil runs smoothly to prepare for draining it.

Remove the oil plug drain

Once the engine is completely cooled down, the next step is to locate the oil plug. Typically, the plug is located somewhere close to the crankshaft, but if you find it challenging to locate the drain plug, you can always refer to a vehicle's owner’s manual to get accurate guidance.

After locating the plug, use a square and ranch to help loosen it first and then take it out manually.

Allow the oil to drain in the bucket

Once you remove the plug, you will immediately notice that the old oil is draining outside of the drain, and you must have the bucket underneath it to collect the oil and prevent it from spilling. Usually, experts recommend leaving the oil to drain for at least 10 to 30 minutes before moving forward in the process.

  1. Locate the old oil filter and remove it

Once you finish draining the old oil, locate the oil filter by referring to your vehicle's owner’s manual. The filter might be either orange, why it's, well, black, etc. It must be labeled as a filter. Your manual should have detailed guidance on where to locate it.

Move your bucket to collect any spills from the oil filter

Once the oil is completely drained inside the bucket over the next step is to move the bucket to the location underneath the filter because as you're replacing it, there's a chance that some oil might be remaining around it, which needs to be collected as well.

Take out the oil filter

At this point, you can go ahead and take out your old oil filter by turning it counterclockwise. However, since the oil filter might be completely soaked with oil, it is recommended that you have some working logs and other protections to help protect you from any oil spills.

Usually, removing the oil filter does not require a lot of force because it's typically tightened by hand and doesn't require too much pressure to take it out. But over-tightening the oil filter makes it hard to remove it the next time you perform an oil filter replacement.

  1. Install the new oil filter

After removing the old oil filter, consider using a dry microfiber cloth to clean out the area and take care of any messes. Then, use some motor oil to lubricate the oil filter, so it easily gets inserted inside the housing and comes out easily the next time you perform an oil filter replacement.

Then, compare the new oil filter to the old one to double-check that you purchased the right oil filter. Of course, you can always consult the owner’s manual for another confirmation. Then, go ahead and insert the new oil filter and rotate it clockwise to tighten it. You don't want to tighten the oil filter over, but at the same time, you don't want to leave it very loose, which might result in oil leaks.

  1. Fill your engine oil

Finally, you need to fill your engine with the required amount of oil specified in your vehicle owner’s manual. You can choose from either full synthetic, synthetic blends, conventional oil, or probably high mileage engine oil. Whatever you decide to go with impacts the frequency of performing an oil change, which means that it's recommended that you perform thorough research about the type of oil you decide to go with.

  1. Give your vehicle test drive

Finally, you should be good to go and give your car a quick test drive. First, start the engine and look for any symptoms indicating problems with oil leaks, which means that you might not have followed the right procedure. If that's the case, inspect the vehicle and tried tightening the oil filter or probably the drain plug if needed.

Keep in mind that if the drain plug is not in good condition, you might need to replace it while replacing an oil filter.

If for any reason, your problems remained, you might want to consult your mechanic and have him perform a thorough inspection to detect if there are any other problems that your vehicle is dealing with.

How much does it cost to replace an oil filter?

Usually, oil filter replacement comes as part of your oil change, which means that you can't ask your mechanic to replace an oil filter without replacing your oil. Typically, oil change varies from $35 to $75 depending on the type of oil we decide to go with and depending on your vehicle's type.

This cost might not be accurate if you decided to go to a dealership versus having your oil filter replaced by yourself.

What are the common symptoms of a bad oil filter?

Understanding the common symptoms of a bad oil filter helps you detect the problem early before it gets complicated and damages the engine. Let's take a closer look at what automotive experts indicated in terms of the common symptoms of a bad oil filter:

  1. Reduction in performance

Since the oil filter is responsible for allowing good oil to pass through and reach the engine, when the filter is clogged, it doesn't allow sufficient oil to get to the engine. Therefore, The engine will perform under stress here. That's why you'll notice a significant reduction in the overall engine performance.

  1. Issues with the engine sputtering

How's the engine suffers from the insufficient amount of oil, it will act weird, and that's where you notice some engine sputtering because of the low supply of oil. Therefore, you must take the issue seriously and reach to your mechanic before things get more complicated.

  1. Weird engine noises

When the engine doesn't receive sufficient lubrication, you'll notice that the internal metal components interact because of friction and less lubrication. Therefore, ignoring the issue and driving your vehicle with a bad oil filter might lead to significant engine damages.

  1. Reduction in oil pressure

With a clogged oil filter, oil won't run as it should around the engine, and therefore, you might deal with a warning light indicating a low oil pressure. However, low oil pressure might be linked to multiple other issues like oil leaks and other troubles. Therefore, ignoring an oil pressure warning light might lead to severe damages and cost you thousands of dollars on repairs.

  1. Weird exhaust smoke

Finally, a clogged oil filter results in strange smoke coming out of the tailpipe. This could be related to the engine burning more fuel than it should because of the low oil supply. In other scenarios, a clogged oil filter might lead to the engine burning oil due to internal leaks.

Can I drive with a bad oil filter?

Never recommended and depended heavily on your situation. For example, if the oil filter is partially clogged, you'll still be able to drive your car without major issues, but it's recommended that you replace it as soon as you can.

However, if the oil filter is completely clogged, you wouldn't necessarily be able to start the engine at all because the engine will seize out immediately because of insufficient oil lubrication.

Therefore, if your oil filter is partially or completely clogged, you must get it replaced based on the frequency of identifying the new vehicle's owner’s manual. Typically, experts recommend changing the oil filter every time we perform an oil change this way; you are on the safe side and don't have to deal with oil filter complications.


Your engine needs the oil filter to function properly to prevent contaminants and foreign objects from reaching the engine's sensitive components. Unfortunately, the oil filter gets clogged completely and partially over time of use, which means you must frequently replace it.

This article walked you through a step-by-step procedure on replacing an oil filter. Learning how to replace an oil filter is not a complicated job, and it saves you a ton of money on labor costs, especially if you decide to get the job done at a dealership.

While it's necessary to replace the oil filter, your engine already has major mechanical problems. It might be worth investigating whether you should sell your car and use its value to purchase a better vehicle worth your investment learning about how to replace an oil filter.

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