Do you own an airplane?  If so, have you ever changed the oil on your  engine?

The engine oil change is one of the FAA approved maintenance tasks that owners can perform on their own airplanes.  Just make sure you are familiar with the process, and have the proper tools and equipment.

Listen to today’s episode to hear a story from many years ago about an oil change that turned out bad… thankfully no one got hurt, but it was quite a fiasco, none the less.

Also, if you have not listened to episode 011, you may be interested in that one also… it’s called “Oil Changing Basics for Airplane Owners.”

Just the other day, I found some something on a Piper Cherokee that was worth talking about today… hopefully, something we can all learn from as a reminder to do all our airplane maintenance to a standard of excellence.

First of all, the safety wire tail on the oil filter was not bent back into itself… the end should be bent to avoid a sharp end.

IMG_3575 (1)







Secondly, I was surprised to find that the filter was very loose.

Check out this video:

If an oil filter is torqued properly, you should not be able to move it at all with your hand.

The torque spec. is 16-18 foot pounds.  The bottom of that range is plenty tight, which equates to 192 inch pounds.

Along with the oil filter, another item to be checked on Lycoming engines (and some Continental engines) at the annual inspection, is the oil suction screen which is in the bottom of the oil sump.

This oil suction screen had a lot of carbon in it after about 120 hours of operation.  In this case, it might be a good idea to clean it again in 50 hours, instead of waiting until the next annual inspection.IMG_3585







So, after considering the story about the unfortunate oil change from many years ago, and after considering the loose oil filter from just the other day, here are several recommendations:

  1.  Be sure you use a torque wrench on your oil filter.  (When torqued properly, you should not be able to tighten it any more at all by hand.)
  2. For Lycomings, if you fly a lot and change your own oil, consider cleaning the oil suction screen at least every 100 hours, perhaps 50 hours if you find carbon like the one in the picture above.

  3. Always do a ground runup and check for leaks after an oil change.

  4. If your oil filter is difficult to loosen, when you remove it, be encouraged… that is a sign that it was torqued properly.  (Use a box end wrench or a socket… an open end wrench will round off the corners of the nut on the back of the filter.)  An automotive style oil filter tool is also a good option if it fits on the filter housing.

If you have a story about an oil change that became a problem, that we could all learn from, please send it to me.

Or, if you have any other comments, questions, or topics you want to hear about, you can:

  1.  Leave me a voice message.  (Use the button on the right side of the page at
  2. Leave a comment on any of the episodes.
  3. Send me an email at

Thanks, and happy oil changing everyone!

Dean Showalter