I am hearing mixed opinions how much should I tighten an oil filter. Does it depend on car or filter type? How do I find out the proper torque number that I need to apply to an oil filter?

Thank you.

Update: I wish I asked this question before may last Oil Change. My Toyota Matrix 2012 oil filter cap was VERY tight (perhaps done by the dealer)

Toyota Matrix 2012 Oil Filter Cap

So I used this tool to open it, then perhaps very much overtighten it.

Tekton - 3-3/4" Flex Oil Filter Wrench

I though there is pressure in the Oil pan, so I have to tighten it hard.

If my oil pan survives this time, I won't do it again...

Thank you, everyone, for help and comments

  • You normally will need a wrench to take off the old filter - they seem to get a little stuck with time even when hand-tightened properly. A wrench tightened filter will get even harder to take off with time. If you're worried, you can always loosen the filter now and hand-tighten it.
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 14:59

1 Answer 1


Most oil filters have instructions for tightness printed on them, and they normally read like:

Tighten by hand until base contact, and then tighten an additional 1/4 turn.

I don't recall ever seeing torque mentioned, because the filter housing relies on the rubber o-ring seal rather than mechanical tightness to seal in the oil. Too much torque will deform the seal and could cause leaks, or make removal very difficult for the next oil change.

Of course, that's for screw-on type filters that are their own housing. For cartridge style filters that go into an engine housing, the housing may have specific torque requirements. My VW Jetta had such a system, but even then the torque for the housing was very low - like 10Nm or something.

  • Correct. Place some fresh oil around the seal and then tighten by hand as hard as you can rather than using a tool. I have heard anecdotally too that some engines will also produce some vacuum to 'suck' the oil filter on. I've never had a screw-on oil filter leak on cars and motorcycles I have done this on.
    – timbo
    Commented Oct 26, 2015 at 23:42
  • Just be careful with "as tight as you can" if you're pretty strong. Sometimes even that is to much, especially if the filter is in a place where you can get a good grip.
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 0:14
  • Every oil filter I have used says to tighten until base contact, and then tighten an additional 3/4 turn not 1/4. But I did see an image online that said 1/2 to 3/4 turn, the takeaway here is that the oil filter itself will tell you.
    – Glen Yates
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 18:35

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