How Tight Should My Oil Filter Be?

Updated July 19, 2017

The correct tightness of your oil filter ensures that the filter won't fall off or become damaged as you drive. It also helps to make the next oil change a much easier experience.


Before putting on your oil filter, rub unused motor oil around the rubber gasket along the bottom of the filter. The oil helps lubricate the seal and ensures the gasket won't become damaged when screwed.

Determining Tightness

When installing the oil filter, you should slowly screw it in with your hand. Make sure the filter turns in cleanly to avoid damaging the filter.

When the filter has been completely screwed in, give it one quarter turn. This allows the filter to fit securely without being too tight.

Oil filters do not need to be too tight. If you can safely unscrew the filter with your hand, requiring only minimal resistance from the tightened position, then your filter has the correct tightness.

Common Problems

Oil filters are commonly too tight. When trying to change the filter during the next oil change, the filter will be too difficult to remove by hand. For this problem, oil filter wrenches are available that help remove the filter properly.

If you are in a situation in which you do not have an oil filter, a screwdriver can be jammed into the filter and turned. Do not drive with the jammed filter still in the car.

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About the Author

Harry Matthews started writing in 2008 and has worked for several gyms and auto mechanics in Houston. He has been published in "In Touch Houston" and the "Lakewood Letter." Matthews holds a Bachelor of Arts in neuroscience, philosophy and law from Case Western University.