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How Tight Should the Oil Filter Be: All You Need to Know

If you are on the mission to change your oil filters, you must know how tight should an oil filter be. Tightening the drain bolt finger-tight is not enough. It will help if you put some extra effort to make it extra tight. Once you have tightened the drain bolt by hand, you have to turn it another half to make it tighter enough.

If not tightened the filter correctly, there is a prospect leak. It is recommended to use an oil filter wrench to loosen and tighten it. In this blog post, we will discuss the implications of not tightening the oil filter:

What happens if the Oil Filter is Loose?

There will be leaking oil everywhere if you don’t put your oil filter to hand tight. If they don’t have the gasket in place or are double gasketed, the only remedy is to hand tighten them overly. IF the oil filter is loose, you can expect a leak on your hands as well.

In this process of leaking oil, a significant amount of oil is lost, which calls for top-up with fresh oil. Depending on how loose the filter is, the leak’s size varies.

What are the Symptoms of Loose Filter?

Here are some of the symptoms of a loose filter:

Check for oil Puddling

The most obvious sign of an oil leak is the oil beneath the car. Just a few drops of sizable puddle indicate some oil leakage. The oil filter is responsible for this leak. If you suspect a leak, check the oil levels. If you arrive at the car with no oil or very little oil, the damage to the car’s engine shall be significant.

Damaged Threads

The filter screw into the engine using the thread to be installed properly. The over-tightening of the drain plug damage the threads. If the threads of the oil filter are damaged by any chance, the filter will not be able to seal correctly to its mating surface. It will cause a leak with the vibrating engine.

Low Oil Pressure

Check the engine oil warning light frequently. If there is some leaking or the oil filter is loose, the engine oil pressure will significantly decrease. As the oil levels go down, there is insufficient circulation due to a lack of oil.

Double Gasket

A double gasket is another probable reason for the oil leakage. When the old gasket contacts the mating surface of the engine block at the time of removal, you install the new filter on the top. It generally happens when the oil filter gasket is not adequately lubricated at the installation time, often causing the gasket to stick to the engine.

Once you start removing the old gasket, make sure that the old gasket is removed entirely before installing the new one to avoid a messy gasket blowout once you start the engine. Every time you install the new filter, rub the motor oil around the rubber gasket and the bottom of the filter for proper lubrication.

Plugged loosely

Most ‘hand tight’ filters that are not tightened correctly may turn loose over time. The possible reason could be due to engine vibrations. Vehicles with specific torque requirements often face the issue of loose filters. The general rule is to hand tight the filter and then turn it further to the half to close it tightly.

Remember, the too-tight filter is also problematic as the excessive torque can crush the oil filter housing or oil filter gasket. Once broken, it can become a reason for the leak. Hence, one must strictly avoid the oil filter removal pliers to tighten the filter as it may cause damage due to excessive torque.

Damaged Oil Filter Gasket

If the oil gasket is twisted, broken or cut, there will be no proper seal to the oil filter. It will result in leakage. A perfect gasket sits around the housing and filer base plate without wear and tear. If the gasket is damaged irrespective of the proper condition of the oil filter, it will cause oil leakage.

Wrong Filter Size

If you try to fit the wrong size filter to your engine, it will eventually turn loose. Not all the filters are meant to be fit in the same engine. If you pick an oil filter that is either very small  or too large to fit your engine, you may encounter the problem of an oil leak. Before replacing your oil filter with a new one, make sure to check the manufacturer manual to have an exact idea.

How to deal with the loose filter?

A loose filter can become a reoccurring issue if not dealt with properly. It is frustrating as it may cause damage to your engine, and you may require to top up the engine oil frequently. Replace your oil filter timely with a competent one to avoid such issues. Whenever oil changes, consider replacing the oil filter. If you notice that the oil filter is loose, fix it immediately.

How tight should the Oil Filter be?

The thumb rule is the oil filter should be hand tightened first. Then you should turn it halfway more to achieve the required tightness that does not lead to the oil filter own oil leak.

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My Name is Christopher Angels, and I am a postgraduate in mechanical engineering. Cars have always excited me as a child, and soon I decided to dive into the world of cars by pursuing mechanical engineering. I also worked as a Mechanic for over 3 years to understand Cars' anatomy and how each part contributes to its working.

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