Oil Filter break

I had my oil changed a a quick change joint and drove very little for the next week then headed out of town leaving the truck sitting in a covered garage. A week after parking in the garage I picked up the car and headed home, about 3 miles into the trip home something seemed to hit under the truck. Long story short it was the oil filter breaking off!! Engine seized. We found the filter and the bit it screws onto was still intact and had broken off inside the filter. What happened???

“had my oil changed a a quick change joint”

Some inexperienced flunkie probably did something completely ridiculous such as torquing down on the new filter with an oil filter wrench. (Those wrenches are only for removal. A new oil filter basically goes on hand tight). Good luck in getting them to take responsibility for it.

Most of the time its best to avoid those quickie lube places. But I guess its a little late for that info.

Just after “something seemed to hit” you should have noticed the oil gauge pointing to “L” and the check gauges light should have come on. If you had turned the engine off at that moment, there may have been some damage, but it probably would have been okay.
How far did you drive from the “hit” to seized engine?

Just after “something seemed to hit” you should have noticed the oil gauge pointing to “L”

Not necessarily…I was driving with a friend who’s engine seized about 2 seconds after the light came one.

I’m sure it all depends on a number of factors. Assuming that the OP went from full oil pressure with good oil and good engine condition to no oil pressure instantly, I think that you would have several seconds of oil left on the moving parts of the engine. If the OP answers the question and his answer is a mile or two, then we will know.
On a car that has run with a quart or less for many miles before the light comes on, then I could see that seizing right way. It could even seize before the light came on.

Sounds like Cro-Magnon man got a bit ham handed while screwing the filter on. This seriously weakened the threaded insert and oil pressure caused it to fail.

Try to remove that threaded part from the filter. If you can’t budge it then overtightening is the likely cause. If the threaded part is aluminum then it would be very easy to damage a filter adapter if care is not used. They owe you an engine.

I was coming up on a toll booth and didn’t notice the gauge until about mile after it happened, was watching traffic. When I did notice I pulled over but it was too late. The question here is not if the seize could have been prevented, the question is what would cause an oil filter to break off? I’ve never heard of this happening. It’s nuts!

So simply over-tightening filter could cause it to break off? We are assessing if the filter was faulty or if the place that replaced it is at fault. I just want to know what could cause it to break off while driving. Would a faulty filter cause this? Would over-tightening the filter cause this? Anything else?

Well, you now have 2 of us who figure that’s it. And that is about it. Of course, if you frequent quickie lube places, overtightening may have happened more than once. So one time weakens it, another time weakens it some more, etc.

You might have a hard time convincing the last place to agree that it was their fault.

Over-tightening stresses the filter where the end piece is crimped onto the metal can of the filter. I can picture that leading to its failure. Of course, a defective filter is a possibility too.
Either way, it shouldn’t matter. The oil change place sourced the filter and put it on. They are liable for the damage to you. If they can determine that the filer was faulty, they may be able to get the manufacturer to pay them back, but that doesn’t involve you.

Never mind. I misread that the filter had broke apart. I now see that isn’t the case. I really think it must be due to over-tightening.

Thanks so much for the input everyone! It’s helpful to have the input. This is all what I thought, but didn’t know for sure.


I’ve never seen one break off before…but I have seen them break apart…Quaker State filters had a reputation for this a few years back. They were poorly put together…The end cap just blew off.

“had my oil changed a a quick change joint” We try to warn as many people as possible about those places. We see far too many of them.

I wish you luck and maybe less damage than we are fearing.

Would it be impossible for you to have run over something that flew up and hit the oil filter? I am not asking if this is what you think happened, but is it at all a possibility? One way to correctly say “no not possible” is if there is a skid plate of some other protection for the filter.

Is it at all possible that the part that broke was defective when the engine was assembled?

I certainly think we need to become more objective when dealing with posts that have a “quickie lube” component.

Possible scenarios:

  1. You hit something on the road that kicked up and broke the filter & threaded nipple off. I consider that unlikely, as it would have had to have been a direct hit. If the outside of the filter has a serious dent like something hit it hard, that would be interesting. But I’m guessing it just has road rash from falling off and hitting the road.

  2. The threaded nipple broke off, either due to a manufacturing flaw, or that someone overtightened a filter, or both. Unfortunately for you, there’s no way to prove that it was the most recent filter change that caused the damage. The quick-lube place could argue that the nipple was cracked by someone over-tightening a filter on a previous oil change, before they ever touched it, and that it just happened to break off after they changed the filter.

I’d put money on someone over-tightened a filter, causing the nipple to crack in the threaded area where the stress concentrations are highest. But it’s practically impossible to say when the crack first started. It’s quite possible that the initial crack was created some time before the most recent filter change, and that it has grown with subsequent filter replacement/tightening cycles. As a mechanical engineer, I’d say that’s actually a likely scenario. It could be that the most recent filter change/tightening sequence was just the last straw, so to speak.

I think the 5.0 is the main engine option with an oil filter up front and down at least somewhat low with others being mounted up high and possibly over the subframe.
The OP did not state the year and engine.

If something hit the filter hard enough to break off an oil filter threaded fitting then the filter itself should be a mangled mess, or a collection of pieces, and by all rights should have ripped the cheesey threads out of the filter before shearing off a threaded fitting.

I’m rather sure I didn’t hit anything in the road. When the filter came off it bounce up and hit the underside of the truck. Think that’s what caught my attention and sounded like something hit under the truck.
The filter was found in tact with the threaded nipple still inside and in tact as well.
The truck is a 2001.

If the crack started before this change, is it something that the mechanic could have/should have seen while changing the oil?

Would love to know if there are other things to cause this.
Don’t think I hit anything and the truck has had no previous problems with the oil or filter. If you can give me other causes I’d be thankful.

It’s not something that is normally checked for. Depending on the size and location, it could be very easy to miss.