Can You Change An Oil Filter Without Draining The Oil?

Changing engine oil and filter according to owner’s manual is one of the most common vehicle maintenance tasks. Can you change an oil filter without draining the oil? It is now a common question among drivers and mechanics due to the common usage and importance of oil in cars.

Several people believe you must drain the oil before changing the filter. While this is true, there are cases where you need to replace the filter without draining the engine oil.

Changing oil filter only or changing oil filter without draining oil is easy, even for a novice. It can save you time and money if you can do it in your own way rather than taking it to a mechanic.

This article will discuss the steps you need to take to change an oil filter without draining the oil. This article aims to educate you on how to replace the filter without draining oil so you can do the task at home without professional help.

can you change an oil filter without draining the oil

Can you change an oil filter without draining the oil?

Yes, you can change an oil filter without draining the oil. With the right tools and a bit of patience, you can quickly complete this task. Changing your vehicle’s filter without draining the oil is a simple process that can save you time and money. In other words, you don’t need to drain the oil. The process only requires a few minutes.

While it’s not recommended to change only the filter without changing the engine oil, it can be done in some cases. For instance, a mechanic used a regular filter with synthetic oil, and you want to change the regular filter to a synthetic one for better filtration.

Another scenario is where you forgot to change oil filter when changing the motor oil. This will prompt you to replace the old filter without draining the motor oil since it is still new. Changing oil but not filter is a bad habit that could drop expensive repair bills on the table.

The oil filter collects dirt, grime, and other contaminants that break down the oil, making it less effective. If the oil filter isn’t changed, the contaminants will eventually build up and clog the filter, reducing the oil efficiency and damaging the engine. It’s better to change the oil and oil filter during an oil change.

How to change oil filter without draining oil

Changing Oil Filter You Tube

Changing oil filter but not oil is actually possible! As stated, changing an oil filter without draining the oil isn’t a difficult job to do. It’s a DIYer task you can do by yourself. Here are the process;

Locate the filter

The first step in changing only the filter is to locate the filter. But first, put a pan under the filter to avoid messing up the garage. At this point, you may be asking, where is my oil filter located? Depending on your vehicle, the filter may be located in different locations, so consult your owner’s manual before starting.

In most vehicles, the filter is located underneath the engine, close to the crankcase, or on the engine block. Simply use your hand to unscrew it or utilize an oil filter wrench.

Remove the filter

Once you’ve located the filter, you’ll need to remove it. To do this, grab your oil filter wrench and turn the filter counterclockwise until the oil starts dripping.

Wipe off any excess oil

After removing the filter, you’ll need to wipe off any excess oil that may have spilled during the removal process. If there’s no oil in the oil filter, check if the former filter is leaking and if there’s enough oil in the engine.

Install the new filter

Next, install the new filter. Ensure you replace the oil filter with a good one to avoid creating issues. After installing the filter, check the engine oil and ensure it is at the recommended gauge. If not, top it as needed.

Start your engine to check for leaks

After the installation, start the engine to be sure there’s no leak. If you notice any oil leak from the filter, carefully tighten it a bit.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

Is it possible to remove oil filter by hand?

Yes, you can remove the filter by hand. Many modern oil filters come with a built-in release mechanism, such as a tab or lever that you can use to remove the filter easily. However, if the filter is tight, you may need a filter wrench to loosen and remove it.

Meanwhile, use caution when doing so. Wear gloves to protect your hands from the oil, and use a filter wrench or other tool to help loosen the filter.

How long will an oil filter last?

This depends on the type of filter, the type of oil used, and the car. Nowadays, the age-long standard of changing the oil and filter every 3,000 miles isn’t true again, especially with today’s high-performance engines.

Cars are not the same. However, car producers recommend intervals of 5,000 to 7,500 for mineral oil and 10,000 to 15,000 for a synthetic oil change. Typically, you should replace the filters during an oil change. So, regular filters should last 5,000 to 7,500 miles, while synthetic filters should last 10,000 to 15,000 miles before needing replacement.

Can you remove an oil filter and reuse it?

No, don’t reuse oil filters. Replace it after each oil change and dispose of it properly. Most disposable filters get clogged before the second change. Reusing a damaged oil filter from the previous oil change might cause several damages.

The purpose of the filter is to filter dirt and debris from getting into the engine. These dirt and other contaminants get trapped inside the filter. Reusing the old filter means you’re introducing contaminants to the engine. Plus, the old filter will likely fail before the following oil change.

changing oil filter but not oil


At this point, you will no longer ask, Can you change an oil filter without draining the oil? It’s possible to change an oil filter without draining the oil. When changing the filter, be careful to avoid any spills or leaks.

Also, ensure the new filter is installed correctly because an improperly installed filter could lead to further problems. Finally, ensure you check the oil level and top it as needed. Refrain from feeling reluctant because you did not drain the oil; it could be the oil was low already or a lot of oil rushed out when you removed the filter.


Mr. Shafiqule Islam is a graduated Mechanical Engineer and has more than 15 years experience of repairing and maintenance of different brand vehicles like Toyota, Mitsubishi, Ford, Mercedes, BMW etc. He is also giving training to Mechanics. He has started writing to share his practical knowledge to Vehicle Owners, Drivers and Mechanics to keep their cars at best fit.

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