Worried you overtightened the oil filter? There are a lot of questions about how tight your oil filter should be.

In this article, we will look at the answer to this question. Let’s get started!

How Tight Should Oil Filter Be? 

Practically speaking, the oil filter should be as tight as possible using bare hands, and it should be so tight that while opening it again, there occurs a slight resistance and requires a bit of force to open it. 

While installing the filter, you should always hand tighten the filter and avoid using any tools. The filter should initially be tightened using the hands as much as possible and should be made tight till it naturally stops getting more tight using bare hands. And at last, you can tighten it half round with the help of a wrench or any similar tool. But make sure not to over-tighten it!

It becomes very important to understand why it is said not to use any tool to tighten the oil filter. Let’s have a look below!

Why Should You Not Use Any Tool To Tighten The Oil Filter?

Tool To Tighten The Oil Filter

The oil filter is a solid yet complex component of the engine, and if not installed with care, it may cause serious damage to your vehicle. It is often suggested not to use a wrench or any tool to tighten oil filters. But Why? 

As mentioned above, the oil filter is a complex part, and if you use a wrench or any other similar tool to tighten the oil filter, it may break the O ring present at the end of the filter and which may result in oil leakage when the engine is turned on.

Another reason behind this is that while using a wrench, one might apply excessive pressure on the oil filter, which may cause a crack on the outside can or casing of the oil filter. Because of this, the oil filter can potentially break down to high heat after some time.

This is why it is always advised to tighten the oil filter with bare hands and, at last, use a wrench to tighten till another half-round if required.

How To Tighten The Oil FIlter Appropriately?

For the oil filter to work efficiently, it becomes important to be appropriately tight. The appropriate way to tighten the oil filter:

  1. The first thing you need to do is safely remove the previous oil filter and make sure there are no gasket particles stuck there.
  2. Next, lubricate the O ring with unused oil to not break down while tightening.
  3. Using “hands,” tighten the oil filter as much as you can until it stops getting tight naturally. 
  4. With the help of a wrench or any similar tool, tighten it half or quarter round but do not apply much pressure as this may break the O ring or gasket.

What Happens When You Tighten The Oil Filter With A Wrench?

Tightening the oil filter with a wrench is considered a bad idea until and unless the oil filter is too big and there is not enough space around to make a grip and tighten it with your hands.

If you tighten the oil filter using a wrench, you may damage it internally and waste the money that you have spent on purchasing it. When you tighten the oil filter with a wrench, it would require extra force, which can cause dents on the filter, which may later result in cracks, and the oil filter can burst or break down when it gets heated excessively.

What Happens If You Overtighten The Oil Filter?

The gasket or O ring present at the base of the filter acts as a seal and ensures there is no oil leakage. If you accidentally over-tighten the oil filter with a wrench, that gasket may break and cause oil leakage, which is why we recommend you use your hands to tighten the oil filter.

How To Check Whether The Oil Filter Is Properly Tight Or Not?

Once you have tightened the oil filter, you might be wondering whether it is properly tight or not. The simple way to check is you can take a piece of paper, place it below the oil filter and turn on your vehicle’s engine.

Let it remain turned on and wait for a few minutes. After turning it off, observe whether any oil leakage or oil drops is dripping through the oil filter. If not, then the oil filter is properly tight, but if there is any oil found either on paper or around, it is not tightened properly. 

In this case, you need to either tighten it again or check if the O ring is broken or not.


Do I Need To Pre-Fill The Oil Filter Before Tightening It?

Pre-filling the oil filter with oil is a bad idea. This way, you might lose some oil while tightening it, and it would get difficult to tighten the oil filter with your hands. Instead, you should always apply some oil to the gasket or O ring so that the O ring survives the pressure exerted while tightening it.

Is It Enough To Tighten The Oil Filter By Hand?

Yes, it is enough to tighten the oil filter by hand. Over tightening the oil filter using any tool can damage the oil filter, so always tighten the oil filter by hand as much as possible.

How Do I Know When The Oil Filter Is Completely Tight?

To avoid harming the filter, make sure it is properly inserted. When the oil filter is at a resistance position, you may say that it is tight. Lastly, give the filter a half or quarter turn once it’s completely tightened, ensuring that the filter is secure but not too tight. 

How Tight Should A New Oil Filter Be?

If you are installing a new oil filter in your vehicle, make sure to tighten it using your hands only till the time it stops getting more tightened naturally. Tightening by hands will avoid the damage that could be done due to over-tightening using any tool. In simple words, a new oil filter must be as tight as possible with just hands.

Can Over-Tightening Oil Filter Cause Leakage?

Yes, over-tightening an oil filter can cause leakage. Now this leakage can be caused because of two reasons. Firstly, over-tightening the oil filter might break the gasket or O ring, which will cause oil to leak, especially when the engine is turned off. 

Secondly, if you are over-tightening the oil filter with the help of a wrench, you may end up making a dent in the oil filter, which will turn into a crack slowly and can be a spot of oil leakage.


We conclude from the above that the oil filter should be as tight as possible using hands without exerting any extra pressure. To make it tightened properly, one may use a wrench or any similar tool to tighten half or quarter turn once done with hand tightening. 

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