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How to Change Oil Filter:

A Step-by-Step Guide for Novice to Expert

One of the most critical maintenance procedures you need to perform on your car is the changing of the oil filter. But have you ever considered changing the oil filter by yourself?

Regular oil filter changes play an integral role in increasing the lifespan of your car and its performance. And you don’t have to run to an auto mechanic every time you want to have an oil filter change. DIY oil filter change is even much cheaper and easier.

So if you’ve always wanted to change your car’s oil filter yourself, but never had an idea where to start, this simple guide is all you need.


How to Change an Oil Filter in 3 Simple Steps

Step 1: Set up your car for a quick oil change.

As a general rule, you have to change your oil filter every time you do your oil change. And by the holy book of car maintenance, you have to do it every 3 months or 3,000 to 5,000 miles.

To begin this oil filter change, you must set up your car for the oil change. Run your engine for a good 5 to 10 minutes to warm up all the old oil inside.

After doing so, let it cool down for a bit and place it on a ramp for you to have an easy time draining your old oil.

Place a catch drain right under the plug and release the old oil to the catch basin.

Step 2: Locate your oil filter & oil plug and replace accordingly.

While you’re draining your old oil, locate your old oil filter and old oil plug and replace each accordingly.

As you are doing so, make sure that you are not over doing all the tightening of the threads. These parts are exposed to so much heat and that could put pressure on the oil plug which can be a little dangerous.

Step 3: Lubricate the new filter and place it back in the slot.

Before placing the filter, make sure to lubricate it with your new oil. Lubricating the filter will allow for the oil to pass through it easily.

After doing so, carefully place it back in the slot.

changing oil filters

Now that we’ve covered the main steps of how to change an oil filter, it is important to understand the importance of an oil filter and how often it should be changed.

What’s The Importance of an Oil Filter?

The oil filter is an integral component of your engine system’s operation. And its importance cannot be underestimated.

As the name suggests, it filters grit and grime from your oil, preventing the contaminants from getting into the engine when the oil circulates and lubricates engine parts.

When the engine starts running, new, clean oil immediately starts to collect metal flakes and old sediments from oil passageways. As the oil completes thousands of cycles around the engine over time, it starts to oxidize. Other reactions create particles in the oil as well.

Some oil passageways in your engine are incredibly small and foreign particles may get lodged in there. And that’s where an oil filter comes in handy. The filter captures the particles and metal flakes, preventing them from circulating through your engine and causing damage.

This increases the chances of the engine running efficiently and for a much longer. This, in turn, saves you having to incur heavy repair costs.

replacing dirty oil filters

Oil filter also helps to improve the performance of your car. When an engine stops running, the oil normally drains to the bottom most part of the engine.

However, the filter ensures that some of the oil stays in place rather than drain down like the rest of the oil.

When you start the engine again, the oil that was retained by the filter automatically starts lubricating the engine. It doesn’t wait for the other oil to rise up.

This makes your car to start quickly and efficiently without the risk of damage.

But there is a catch.

Oil filters have limited debris capacity after which they are rendered useless. You don’t want to continue using an oil filter once it reaches its capacity. You know why?

Excess pressure will open the bypass valve, allowing unfiltered oil into your engine’s lubricating system. When this happens, stray particles can damage the bearings, journals, and rings. They may also get stuck in chain tensioners and lifters.

And that’s why it is important to change the oil filter on a regular basis. The good thing is that oil filters are relatively affordable. With about $25, you can get a high-quality oil filter. But, how do you know that your oil filter is due for a change? Read on.

How Often Should You Change an Oil Filter?

Different people have different answers to the question of how often you should change your oil filter. Car manufacturers, for instance, often advise that you change your oil filters every other time you have an engine oil change.

Oil manufacturers, on the other hand, suggest changing filters with every engine oil change. This is normally after every 3000 miles, or three months, whichever comes first.

But after extensive research, we came up with proper guidelines for oil filter change and maintenance. Choose one that suits your situation the best:

1 – Replacing Oil Filter With Every Oil Change

Replacing your oil filter with every oil change is perhaps the best idea when it comes to upholding the best possible engine integrity. While many oil filter companies advise changing engine oil every 3000 miles, that’s quite unrealistic. Unless your car has a prehistoric engine system that doesn’t filter particles as efficiently.

Every vehicle is somewhat different, but the average amount of miles to wait before engine oil and filter change is about 7,500. It’s advisable to check your owner’s manual for the appropriate oil filter maintenance for your car.

2 – When The Engine Maintenance Light Comes On

If the Service Engine light is on, you might want to consider replacing the oil filter ahead of schedule. Several things can make the Service Engine light to come on. However, it is advisable to rule out the minor potential causes before you fork out loads of cash for diagnostics and repairs.

The purpose of the light is to warn you that your engine system isn’t functioning as well as it should. And that can also be caused by too much grime and particles being in circulation, which can clog your filter unusually faster.

It is worth noting that some newer car models have an oil change indicator light. There are sensors that monitor the engine’s oil condition and performance. Using an algorithm, the sensors determine when it’s time for an oil/filter change and then trigger the light.

3 – Driving in Severe Conditions

If you often drive in more severe conditions, such as in dusty rural roads, extreme temperatures, or towing heavy loads, you may need to change your oil filter more often. In such conditions, your engine system works harder. This, in turn, calls for more frequent maintenance of its components – the oil filter included.



Replacing your car’s oil filter is just as easy as 1-2-3. First thing’s first, you have to make sure that every time you change your car’s oil, you take out the old filter and plugs. This makes sure that everything is fresh inside your car when it runs.

Keep in mind that you should change your car oil, car oil filter, and oil plugs every 3 months or depending on your mileage. This will help keep your car in its tip top shape.

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  1. JohnWorthy! Reply

    This article makes it seem soooooo easy. Well, it actually is. The problem with changing the oil filter isn’t the act of changing, for me it’s about the clean up. That’s why I always have to go to the repair shop to get this filter replaced because i cant deal with grease and oil. It also sticks on my hand for a few days which is bothersome. Do you have tips for that? Whats the best way of getting the grease AND THE SMELL from your hand? Tried powder detergent, it just hurt my hands. 🙁 Send help

  2. Julian Rose Reply

    A very informative article to say the least. But very helpful too. I really don’t get why you should lubricate the new filter first before finally installing it. Does it have to do with making the filter a little softer so it can blend through the oil? Anyway, such a mystery. What happens if you skip that? Such a mystery! I would like to learn more about it, if anyone on Toprated can message me!!!

  3. as much as i hate replacing the filter on my own, it’s part of the crucial maintenance tasks of owning a car. it’s a good thing that there’s folks you can pay for to do this dirty job for you. When you drive your car at high speeds like you’re racing, you just gotta make sure you’ve got fresh filters as needed. The car itself is already expensive on its own so don’t make a problem by skipping oil filter change.

  4. Cauliflower Girl Reply

    Thank you for making this guide. My father passed away recently and reading your guide made me feel like a kid again watching my father change the oil filter. It gave me nostalgia just reading it. He always told me to make sure that the filter should always be replaced no matter what. or i’ll ruin the car. He passed on to me his corolla and i’m making sure that i’m going to replace the filter every now and then. miss you dad

  5. CanadianMapleSyrupLover Reply

    I always run a maintenance check on my car regularly. I do not have the option of replacing my car so it’s important that I always check on it. One of the parts that i really look out for is the oil filter. I cannot stress it enough just how vital it is to change the oil filter with every oil change. This makes sure that oil contaminants are kept where they are supposed to be. I’ve been dedicating my time to do this on my own for fifteen years now. I learned to do it with the help of my friend who owns a car garage. nothing beats professional information eh.

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