Informational Guide

How To Change an Oil Filter

The oil filter in your vehicle is responsible for keeping contaminants out of the engine. It’s simple to learn how to change an oil filter at home.

The oil filter in your vehicle is responsible for keeping contaminants out of the engine. You must change it regularly to ensure maximum performance and longevity of the motor. 

While you could take your vehicle to a mechanic for this service, it’s simple to learn how to change an oil filter at home.

It doesn’t matter what type of vehicle you drive; you need to change the oil and filter regularly to ensure the motor remains in good shape. With regular oil and filter changes, you ensure superior lubrication of the engine. If you fail to provide the lubrication it needs, the motor and its components will start to break, leaving you with expensive engine repair bills.

Motor oil also ensures that the components remain cooled and the temperature is regulated within the engine. When you change the oil and filter, you remove sludge, contaminants and particles, which helps your engine run better. As it becomes more optimized, you might notice better acceleration and improved fuel economy. All of these aspects work together to keep you on the road longer.


Signs That Your Car Needs An Oil Change

Do you know how often to change the oil filter? When it comes to the oil filter and how often to change it, you should follow the recommendations in your owner's manual.

It depends on the vehicle you drive and what kind of oil you use. However, there are other times when you should change the oil and filter. When the Check Engine Light or Oil Change Light comes on, you want to change the oil filter.

You might also notice dark or dirty oil when checking it, which indicates a change is needed. If you have louder engine noise, knocking, an oil smell within your cabin, exhaust smoke, or notice a decrease in fuel economy, an oil change might be in order.

Why Change Your Oil Filter

When you are determining how often to change an oil filter, you might think it’s okay to simply change the oil, but that’s a terrible practice.

Instead, you want to change the filter every time you replace the oil. Because most vehicles feed oil into the engine through the filter, this part is your first line of defense. If the filter becomes contaminated, your oil won’t reach the engine the way it should.

Additionally, as these contaminants build up, it causes more engine wear. Even though it might be discouraging to look at how often to change oil filter with synthetic oil, this simple practice is going to reduce your long-term repair costs. Plus, you don’t want to put fresh oil in a system where contaminants already exist.

car oil

Steps-by-Step Guide To Changing Oil Filters

Before you learn how to change the oil filter, you should reference the instructions in your owner’s manual. We will provide you some general steps to get you started.

  1. 1
    Drain the oil into a pan and replace the oil plug. Run your engine for a few minutes to warm up the oil before doing this. Turn the engine off before starting.
  2. 2
    Remove the filter with an oil filter wrench. If you don’t have a specialized wrench, you could attempt to take it off by hand, but make sure it’s not hot. Allow the oil to drain out of the filter.
  3. 3
    Clean the mounting surface. Use a rag to ensure the surface is free from debris and contaminants.
  4. 4
    Lubricate the new oil filter. You will want to coat the seal with some fresh oil.
  5. 5
    Screw the new filter on by hand. It's crucial that you don't overtighten the filter, or you could have trouble removing it later.
  6. 6
    Run the engine & look for leaks. Once the filter is installed and the oil is topped off, you want to run the engine for a few minutes before checking the levels.
  7. 7
    Dispose of the old oil properly. You can check with your local auto repair shop or parts store for drop-off locations.

Here’s a helpful YouTube video from Purolator further illustrating the steps.

Tips When Changing Oil Filters on Different Vehicles

Changing oil filter on 2010 Toyota Highlander

Here’s a helpful video illustrating how to change an oil filter on a 2010 Toyota Highlander.

Changing oil filter on Renault Megane 1.9 DCI

We also have a helpful guide when you want to learn how to change an oil filter on Renault Megane 1.9 DCI.

Changing oil filter on 2012/2017 Camry

Whether you want to learn how to change an oil filter on 2012 Camry models or how to change an oil filter on 2017 Camry cars, this video should help.

Changing oil filter on Ford Mondeo mk4

You can also learn how to change an oil filter on Ford Mondeo mk4 models.

Changing oil filter on 2009/2015/2017 Toyota RAV4

We can show you how to change an oil filter on 2009 RAV4 models, how to change an oil filter on 2015 Toyota RAV4 SUVs, and how to change an oil filter on 2017 RAV4 vehicles.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How often do you need to change your oil filter? What about ones with synthetic oil?

You want to change the oil filter every time you change the oil. With conventional oil, this might be every 3,000 miles, while some cars with synthetic can go up to 15,000 miles. Check your owner’s manual for more guidance.

How much does it cost to change the oil filter?

If you are getting a professional synthetic oil change, it can cost anywhere from $50 to $100 for most standard vehicles. However, if you have a large truck or specialized filter, the price can cost more. Doing your own oil filter change can reduce the price significantly.

Where is my oil filter located?

The oil filter location varies by vehicle, so check your owner’s manual for the exact location. You might need to remove other parts to access it on some models.

How much oil do you put in a new filter? Should you prefill it?

You don’t need to fill the filter before installing it, but you should lubricate it with fresh oil before installing it.

Can you just change an oil filter without changing oil?

You can change the oil without replacing the filter, but why would you want to? If you are adding fresh oil to your engine, give it the best chance at staying clean by putting a new filter on too.

What happens if you change oil but not oil filter? Do you need to change the oil filter every time?

By leaving a dirty oil filter intact after changing the oil, you could significantly reduce oil flow, especially if the filter is clogged. Contaminants could also get beyond the filter into your clean oil.

How long can you really go between oil changes? How many miles can an oil filter last?

It depends on what type of oil filter you purchase. You can find some that need to be changed every 3,000 miles and others that will last 15,000 miles or more.


After purchasing the best oil filter for your vehicle, it’s time to install it and protect your engine. Follow our tips for oil filter changing success.