How to Choose and Install an Oil Filter

April 6, 2012

Don't choose an oil filter indiscriminately. Learn how to choose your oil filter based on engine size, and get the basics of oil filter installation.

Oil Filter With Quart Of Oil

Your oil filter is a very important component. Your engine requires a properly functioning oil filter to ensure the high quality of the oil that keeps the engine lubricated is. When choosing your car oil filter, keep the following items in mind.

Proper Size and Design

There are different types of oil filters that correspond to engines of different sizes. Similarly, different manufacturers have uniquely sized oil filters in some cases as well. Be sure that you purchase the right size of filter for your particular vehicle. This will ensure that you end up with properly filtered oil.

Install as You Change Oil

In order to install the oil filter, first drain the oil from your vehicle. Time the installation of your oil filter with the changing of your oil. If the current oil filter is severely in need of replacement, drain the oil anyway, even if it's still viable. It's more important to have a working oil filter in your vehicle than to have to replace the oil before it needs to be.

Choosing the Right Oil Filter Wrench

You can choose an oil filter wrench designed for your make and model of vehicle, or you can purchase an oil filter wrench that works on almost any type of oil filter, in any vehicle.

Types of Oil Filter Wrenches

The type of oil filter wrench you purchase for your vehicle will generally depend upon your own personal taste and requirements. If you're purchasing one for use on a single vehicle, you might find it easier to use one designed specifically for your vehicle. These wrenches are designed to tightly fit around the oil filter sized for your vehicle, and can usually be turned with a standard ratchet socket wrench.

If you have two or three vehicles, you're better suited to buy a universal oil filter wrench. You can buy swivel grip oil filter wrenches, strap oil filter wrenches and even oil filter pliers, which will usually work on most vehicles. For many people, a swivel grip oil filter wrench is the easiest to use, but there are still those who prefer strap oil filter wrenches.

If you're looking for something more durable and want to use it for years and years, purchase a pair of high-quality adjustable oil filter pliers. For a strap or swivel grip oil filter wrench, expect to pay about $10 to $15. If you're looking for a pair of high-quality adjustable oil filter pliers, expect to pay between $20 and $40.

How to Minimize Oil Filter Change Frequency

The need for a frequent oil filter change can be minimized with regular engine maintenance. One of the main causes of engine breakdown is not regularly changing the oil filter. The filter gets contaminated with dirt and grime, which then forms engine-damaging sludge. This makes your engine work harder and heat up much faster.

The Right Oil

Using the right kind of oil can help increase the life of your filter. When you get an oil change, make sure you are using the oil recommended both for your vehicle's engine and the mileage on the car. This will reduce the stress on the filter, and can help you lessen the number of replacements needed every year.