Why You Should Not Use A Tool To Tighten Up A Spin-On Oil Filter

4 Min
A crushed in spin-on oil filter with overlay text saying "Why You Should Not Use A Tool To Tighten Spin-On Filters"

We bet you’ve crushed your spin on filter plenty of times – probably more times than you can care to remember. Well, you are not alone in this. We know pro-mechanics who have accidentally done this on occasion when they changed their oil, fuel, or hydraulic filters because they used a wrench to loosen them.

We recommend that you should not use a tool to tighten up a spin-on oil filter and what you should use instead.

DON’T use tools to tighten SPIN-ON filters! See why on this 650K dozer - TEKAMO TIPS #4
Why You Should Not Use A Tool To Tighten Up A Spin-On Oil Filter

When putting back any spin-on filter, be it engine oil, hydraulic, or fuel filter, you only want to install and tighten the filter by hand. If you use a tool to tighten it up much further, it makes it very difficult to come off when you take it off the next time.

The filter might get completely crushed when you take it apart because of applying too much pressure on it. Sometimes when it’s overly tight, you are forced to use tools like a strap wrench, chisels, and hammers,  or even pound a screwdriver through it to make it lose.

To avoid accidentally damaging your spin-on oil filter, you want only to hand tight the filter so that it’s just right. Not too loose but also not so tight that it’s difficult to pull off.

How Tight Is Tight Enough?

Most experts recommend that you tighten up the spin-on filter until it’s “hand tight”. But then again, “hand tight” means a whole lot of things to different people that most people end up overtightening eventually.

The general rule is to turn it ½ to ¾ turn past the point where the filter and gasket make contact. This is the perfect spot between over-tightening (which causes the filter to get crushed) and under-tightening (which causes it to leak).

To know how tight is tight enough, start the engine and if the filter doesn’t leak, then it should be okay. It may appear loose when you hand tighten but the filter does get tighter by itself once you run the engine.

To make the filter easier to come off, some mechanics recommend smearing a coating of grease onto the sealing ring (lubricating the filter seal) before threading it on. If well lubricated, the spin on filter should come right off with only hand pressure the next time you are doing a replacement.

Want to learn more heavy equipment maintenance tips?

Check out our article on how to Safety Equipment You Should Be Wearing

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