How To Cut And Inspect An Oil Filter


If you do your own airplane maintenance, cutting open and inspecting an oil filter is an important step. In this video, KITPLANES Editor-at-Large Paul Dye explains how to do it. Having a purpose-made tool for the job speeds things along and, pro tip, that’s not a hacksaw.

Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen, and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra they completed. Currently, they are building a Xenos motorglider. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 5000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor, as well as a former member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.


  1. As a retired A&P, during my career I worked at a flight school where cutting open oil filters and examining the element material with a flashlight was and is a good way to see if the engine IS making metal. Great suggestion for pilots performing their oil and filter changes.

  2. And don’t forget to check the screens…rqd by 14CFR 43 App D…the big chunks are on the screen!

  3. I clip the metal strip holding the ends of the filter elemet with side cutters. and pull out in one continuous piece and examine the side that the filter flows through (outside In I believe) and that way you don’t introduce more potential contaminates onto the element and I always run a magnet along to pick up material, not just when I see a potential issue.

  4. The best tool I have found to cut the media out of the housing is a cheap bread knife. Far better and safer than a razor knife.

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