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Firsthogman, Auto Service Technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 504
Experience:  40 years as a mechanic on all type equipment.
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Is it true, that if you put a wrong oil filter, ( ...

Resolved Question:

Is it true, that if you put a wrong oil filter, ( canaster for a V-6 saturn-L-200 in a 4cyl saturn L-200) suppose to be for a (4cyl) did not leak, could that cause the engine to blow up? can it destroy the engine? please let me know if that is possible to ruin a engine in about 5 miles after it was put in...also, this car has had the same (wrong oil filter put in there for 2 years) this possible?? please let me know some details...

Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  Firsthogman replied 10 years ago.

Welcome to JA,

Welcome to JA,

If it has the same thread size and type, and the O-ring gasket is the same size where it doesn't leak it should not. Some filters have a check valve flap in them if they are to be mounted gasket end down so the oil won't run out of the filter when the engine isn't running but that won't cause an engine to blow up if used turned the other way. It may cause a tad more wear over a long time because it has to fill the filter every time you crank it but that is all it will do.

If it has had the same part number filter used for two years and not given any problem it would not blow up because of it now. You can use a different part number than the spec calls for on a lot of vehicles. I usually use a different one than called for if it has the same threads and o-ring size.The reason I do is I like a long filter if I can get it on and a lot of the time the one called for will be a short filter.Some time that is the only difference between two different number filters. They specify the short one because it is easer to install.


Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Firsthogman's Post: I agree with you..however the one i put in the saturn L-200 was for a V-6 not a 4 cyl. will that make any difference? by doing this will this ruin the engine? i agree it would use up a tad more oil, but should not blow up or ruin the engine if the engine is kept full with you agree? can you tell me your answer in your own words please?? need this info asap..

Expert:  Firsthogman replied 10 years ago.

No if the threads and the O-ring seal is the same size and they must be or it would have leaked by now.


Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Firsthogman's Post: final re assurance , i know if the numbers are different etc. but i put in a filter for a V-6 canister, and the car is a 4 cyl. so, again, if it thread was good, and the o ring was good and did not leak, then would that cause the oil to be sucked out of the engine and blow up.. i need that question answered specifically..also, your experience on GM etc..this is a Saturn, L-200, 4 cyl...

please reply asap..
Expert:  Firsthogman replied 10 years ago.

Okay, I think I see the misunderstanding here. I just picked up on the word Canister from your first post. I didn't realize any 2001 vehicle still used any type oil filter but a spin on.

This changes things some. The Cartridge for a 4cyl vs a 6cyl Canister type oil filter could be smaller in diameter and length, therefore it would not fill the canister completely so the end gaskets would seal. This would allow dirty oil to by pass the element and continue to circulate the engine. Over time this would cause premature wear to the engine. It should not cause a sudden and catastrophic failure. You should begin tho hear chattering , tapping, or knocking noises long before the engine actually failed.


Hope this answers your question tho I am not sure it is what you wanted to hear. Sorry about the mix up.


Customer: replied 10 years ago.

I saw the filter size from both V-6 and the 4cy , not much of a difference in the size, pretty, pretty close..evertything sealed up and no leaks after the change.......

the car was bought in 2002 and has 100K miles on it.....again, the oil filter is just a filter for to clean the oil, if it was sealed, and fit on the only issue would be how much oil was being used up?? and could such oil ( a tad) as u mentioned earlier, could that be sucked out enough to FREEZE up or blow up, ruin an engine??

If your answer is no it could not ruing a engine, then the only other way engine could be ruined is if the oil was not filled, running low on oil, etc correct??

Do you know a expert (like yourself) Saturn mechanic that i can talk with??

these are my last clarifing questions...
Expert:  Firsthogman replied 10 years ago.



If there is as Little 1/64 inch in length the rubber/plastic ends, or the diameter of the center hole where it seals it will allow dirty oil to circulate the engine. This would allow premature wear as I stated. There is no way to say how long it would take to do permanent damage to the moving parts of the engine though unavoidably it would. The canister this element fits in would seal oil from leaking to the outside so there would be no external visible evidence that anything was wrong. The oil is forced either into the center of the element through the filter and back into the engine from th outside of the filter with the dirt remaining in the element. In some canister types it may co the opposite direction by the principal is the same for all canister types. The idea is to force the oil through the cleaning element so particles can be removed. If the fit between the ends and the filter adapter and the canister end isn't tight the oil can get past and not go through the filter and get cleaned. Tis in it self would not cause sudden engine failure. As I said over time it will cause wear that might result in engine failure but it usually would not be instantaneous. Noise in the forms I described earlier (Chattering, slapping, knocking) would normally be heard long before failure occurred.

I am sorry I don't know any Saturn mechanics but one that was any good and honest would tell you the same thing.

This type filter was the first ones used for engines wayyyyyy back when I was a young man. I thought all moder vehicles had gone to the spin on type due to the ease of changing and it is less likely for something like we are talking about to happen because the spin on will either not go on or will leak to the outside (usually more like flood) if it isn't right. The canister type shows no visible external signs that anything is wrong.The oil pressure will look okay and there will be no signs of leaks. Still it will not in 99.99% of the time cause a failure except over a long period of time, with preliminary signs, noises or a drop in oil pressure, usually both. Then you can have a failure.

All this is true to any engine that uses a canister type oil filter, not just Saturn.


Saturn 4 CYL Stp / Oil Filter

Saturn 6 CYL Stp / Oil Filter

See the difference in length and diameter.


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