No Oil in the Oil Filter

So, I’ve been performing my own oil changes for the past year or so, and I was pretty shocked when I recently found out that I was doing it wrong.

It seems that the book I was reading from that initially taught me completely failed to mention partially filling your new oil filter before screwing it on. It only mentioned rubbing some new oil on the top.

Not only do I feel really stupid, but I’m now worried about the condition of my car. How can I expect the damage to be? Have I done something terrible to my car?

Any help would be much appreciated.

I don’t think you’ve done anything terrible to your car. There’s plenty of oil in the system to make up for the tiny volume of oil that you didn’t put in the filter. I don’t fill the filters - just rub oil around the O ring like you do. Hell, if I filled the filter I’d just pour it out again since my cars have the filters on the back side of the engine.

For what it’s worth I’ve got a Honda with 260,000 and Toyota with 150,000 on 'em. They’re showing no signs of dying (and I kinda wish the Toyota would die so I’d have an excuse to put a bigger motor in there :wink: ) and they’re 20 and 18 years old, respectively.

Well, that’s a relief. The car definitely wasn’t running any differently and I recently had the engine inspected, and they said it was in great condition (especially for being over 100,000). I was just worried I had done some long-term damage that wasn’t readily apparent yet.


If the oil filter hangs vertically down from the engine it’s a good idea. But there are some engines where the oil filter sits sideways off the engine. So you can’t fill these oil filters with oil because it would all pour out when trying to mount the filter to the engine.

Don’t worry about it.


You’re worrying needlessly. Many cars have their oil filters mounted horizontally, and it’s impossible to install them with oil in them. My '89 Toyota pickup had a horizontally mounted filter and the engine was still running well when it got totalled at 338,000 miles.

You need not worry. As a matter of fact, congratulations on maintaining your car.

I had an 83 Camry that I sold at 254,000 miles. The filter was up-side down and was always dry, even when I took it off there was only a trace of old oil. I loved to change the oil on that car.

I wouldn’t worry about it at all. On a vertically mounted filter you can fill the filter before installing it. Anything else is almost pointless.

If the process would make you feel more secure you might do what I do on non-vertically mounted filters. I disable the engine so it will not start. (Coil wire, fuel pump relay, ECM fuse, or whatever)
The engine is then cranked over until the oil light goes out. Reinstall the coil wire, relay, fuse, etc. and call it good.


I concur with the other posters. You haven’t caused any damage to your car.

shadowfax, tester …

On my cars which have a horizontal oil filter, I fill the new oil filter with oil up to the brim, at the very outset of the oil change process. Actually that is the very first thing I do, before anything else.
When time comes to actually mount the new filter-about 10-15 minutes later, the filter material has absorbed ALL of the oil, allowing me to mount it without anything dripping out of it.
I know it seems rather odd, but believe me, all those pleats in the filter material will hold A LOT of oil. Give it a try next time and see what happens. And start with only a half-full filter if you are really suspicious of what I am saying :slight_smile: