An oil filter is a filter designed to remove contaminants from automotive engine oil, you also (usually) have one for the transmission oil.
Most engine oil filters are the spin on variety although the canister filter is making a comeback, especially in European and Asian vehicles. Filter designs employ an element made of bulk material (such as cotton waste) or pleated Filter paper to entrap and sequester suspended contaminants; keeping your oil relatively clean.
As time goes by your engine will break down the oil causing contaminates and sludge to build up; the filter will capture this to a point. Many times when you go well beyond the usual oil change interval the sludge won’t make it back to the filter and will settle in many of the small orifices around the engine. This will cause a myriad of problems that we won’t go into in this discussion. Bottom line, change you oil regularly.
If you are changing your own oil, oil filters should only be tightened 1 turn after first contact with the seal; and only hand tight. Over tightening filters causes them to be “stuck” onto the car… This filter was over tightened then the owner was unable to get it off. He destroyed it in the mean time and the vehicle was towed to Granden Auto to be removed.
If you do your own oil change never over tighten the filter OR the drain plug, which is usually torqued to only about 20ft.lbs.