Where is the Oil Filter Located

Quick, where is the oil filter located on your car? The rise in popularity of the quick-lube shop has left many vehicle owners with very little sense of what goes on under the hood. If you'd like to change your own oil, however, knowing how to find the oil filter is a critical skill.

Okay, so where IS the oil filter located?
Your oil filter helps to remove contaminants from your engine's oil. Contaminants can come from combustion by-products, dust and metallic particles generated by friction. For the most protection, your car's oil filter should be changed every time the oil is changed. Here are some tips for locating your car's oil filter:

  • Be on the lookout. Most oil filters are of the "spin-on" variety-a metal cylinder about the size of a soup can with a rounded top. These oil filters are lightly colored (usually white or yellow) and are found near the oil pan of your engine.
  • In black and white. If you're doing your own oil change, the owner's manual or service manual will show you the location of the oil filter. Don't have a manual? Most car companies have online versions available for cars produced in the last 10 years or so. Most are available free, with others charging a small fee.
  • A tale of two oil filters. Although many cars use "spin-on" oil filters, some cars (notably, late model GM vehicles) use a cartridge filter that is housed in a black plastic case. The case is opened using an appropriately sized socket wrench and the cartridge can then be removed and replaced.
  • Easy does it. Over tightening an oil filter can damage the filter gasket or mounting threads. Most "spin-on" oil filters need only be hand tightened for best results. If you're having trouble getting an old filter off, an oil filter wrench (which looks like a dog's choker collar) can be a big help.
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