How often should you change your oil filter? Do you understand that motor oil should be changed as scheduled, but is this also the case for the oil filter?
A highly essential but often busy part of the engine, an oil filter separates dirt and particles from the usable motor lubricant. It prevents oil contamination inside the engine and friction and obstruction on oil flow on the bearings and other engine parts.
This, nonetheless, is compromising the quality of the oil filter itself. This may be the first line of defense against impurities, but the filter’s performance can diminish from dirty oil exposure.
Furthermore, a bad oil filter that is left unchanged will affect the performance of your vehicle’s engine. At worst, unfiltered or inadequate oil can lead to further damages that may require huge amounts of money for repairs and replacement.
What do you need to understand about the oil filter? How urgently does an oil filter change need to be?
Lastly, how will you know if your oil filter needs to be replaced?
What Is An Oil Filter?
An oil filter functions, as the name suggests: a filter that purifies oil as it enters or re-enters the engine. It clears out all dirt particles, tiny metal shafts, and other potential obstructions to engine lubrication.
The newly-filled lubrication fluid from the oil sump needs to go through the filter before entering the engine. This is to ensure that only clean, purified oil will reach the other components of the machine.
Engine oil is needed to provide lubrication for engine parts to avoid damages brought by friction. In addition, as the engine parts tend to overheat when the vehicle’s in use, the engine oil also cools down the temperature.
After greasing out ballers and nearby machine parts, the now-dirty oil will return to the oil sump. It will then be reused by going through the same process, including filtration.
What makes an oil filter work? Well, let’s follow the oil path by looking at the significant components of this engine part:
- Cover or Tapping Plate – This is the entrance and exit point of the filter. Oil passes through its small holes to enter the filter and flows out using the center hole after filtration.
- Baseplate – There’s immense pressure as oil enters the sides of the filter. The baseplate prevents oil spillage from inside the filter.
- Filter Housing – This steel housing protects against external particles and guides oil to follow towards the filtration media.
- Filtration Media – The essential part of the filter where oil purification occurs, the filtration media is usually made from cellulose. However, there are oil filters whose filtration media is made from synthetic fibers, micro-glass fiber, and fine metal material.
- Pleats – Another filtration feature, pleats further ensure that oil will be purified before entering the engine.
- Center Steel Tube – This tube is designed with small holes for purified oil to flow out from holding the filter media. The oil coming out from the pipe will leave the filter through the threaded center.
- Anti-Drain Back Valve – This valve will prevent purified oil from re-entering the filter when the vehicle is not in use.
- Oil Bypass Valve – When thick oil is inside the primary filter, the bypass valve provides a secondary filter pathway for oil. It is located outside the primary filter.
- Drain Port – At the other end of the oil filter, this part allows you to drain oil from the filter for removal and oil check.
Why Is Oil Filter Important For Your Engine?
Oil filters are relatively small in size. Despite this, their various components make this piece of engine component an integral part of your vehicle.
Listed below are some special functions of the oil filter, making it highly essential for your engine.
Acting as the Engine’s Filtration System
The primary function of the oil filter is to purify the oil and remove unwanted particles into the lubrication fluid. It blocks dust, dirt, and small metallic particles while allowing clean crude to enter the engine.
Given this, the filter is vital in ensuring that clean, purified oil will have access to the engine’s moving parts. Without this, the oil that circulates inside the machine will remain dirty.
Not having an active oil filter can lead to contamination throughout the engine. This will lead to another harmful effect on your vehicle: engine damage.
Prevention Against Engine Damage
Engine damage due to faulty oil filters can come in various forms. However, all of these damages can compromise the vehicle’s quality and performance as a whole.
For instance, the first that can be damaged is the oil filter itself. Unless your engine has a bypass system, it can directly affect all engine parts due to a lack of oil filtration and oil flow.
If there’s no proper filtration, the engine parts will be exposed to contaminated oil or may not be lubricated at all. This can lead to adverse effects due to friction and overheating.
Sludges or oil build-ups in the engine are also inevitable, adding pressure to the engine parts. This may result in further damages to other essential machine parts or even engine failure.
Setting the Pathway for Oil Flow
Aside from the above reasons, an oil filter sets up the pathway for oil circulation as it moves to the engine. It allows oil filtration and adequate circulation, ensuring that there will be enough amounts of oil for the machine.
When Should You Change Your Oil Filter?
Now that you understand how oil filters are essential for your engine let’s look at when these should be replaced.
There’s no consensus on the specific time frame when oil filters can be considered too old for use. However, some claim that the filter should be replaced when it reaches 7,500 miles or between 6,000 to 10,000 miles.
Nonetheless, some signs could notify you of a possible oil filter change. Here are some indicators that could let you know if you need to replace your oil filter.
Every Oil Change
The thing with the life span of oil filters is that it’s not in terms of time. Instead, people determine their shelf life through the distance taken using existing oil inside the engine.
For instance, vehicles can run up to 5,000 miles using conventional oil or 10,000 miles with synthetic oil. However, the duration required for the existing oil inside the engine will depend on the vehicle itself.
Either way, an oil change will also require replacing the oil filter. It makes sense as it prevents newly bought filters from being contaminated immediately with old filters.
Service Engine Indicator Is Lit Up
A lit-up Service Engine Indicator, Oil Pressure Warning, or Oil Change Indicator could signify something wrong in your vehicle engine. There may be a build-up of sludges and debris inside the machine, including the clogged oil filter.
It’s essential to respond to these warnings immediately by inspecting the engine or monitoring the vehicle’s performance.
Harsher Driving Conditions
Harsh driving conditions include driving in frequent stop-and-go traffic, intense temperatures and road conditions, and heavy loads. In this case, it may be practical to replace the filter every 3,000 miles.
Importance Of Changing Oil Filters
The oil filter tends to work under intense pressure alongside other parts of the engine. Given its function, the filter can be prone to sludges and dirt build-up that could clog the pathways and damage the mechanism.
This is why it’s essential to change the oil filter as scheduled or immediately after detecting engine issues. Here are other reasons why oil filter replacements are crucial for your engine.
Higher Filtering Efficiency
A new oil filter for your engine means higher filtering efficiency for the vehicle.
Oil filters can get old and weary and can lead to a deteriorating performance over time. A decrease in efficiency, in turn, can result in a lesser ability to filter oil properly.
When you’re replacing oil or other parts of the engine, it’s great to have a refreshed filtration system using a new oil filter. Not only does it prevent engine failures from already worn-out filters, but it helps in avoiding contamination of newly-bought oil.
Better Engine Protection
The performance of the oil filter goes hand-in-hand with the version of the engine. Thus, a faulty filter will contaminate oil which will damage other parts of the machine.
However, a newly-purchased oil filter, along with new oil, can further protect the engine against oil contamination. When addressed simultaneously, the repairs can ensure that the vehicle will function smoothly for more years.
Reduced Maintenance Cost
Replacing an old oil filter with a new one is a couple of times better than ignoring the signs of a declining filter. For one, if you continue to run using a filter in bad condition, it will lead to adverse effects on other engine components.
This is especially the case with severe damages such as extreme overheating, engine failure, and sludges in the engine. You don’t want to shell out vast amounts of money for multiple repairs and replacements.
Avoids Early Contamination Of Your New Oil
The reason for replacing new oil is to avoid damages brought by old, contaminated oil. At least, with fresh oil filled inside the vehicle, the engine will have a refreshed lubrication and temperature cool-down.
However, the quality of the new oil you bought may be compromised if you’re still using a dirty, clogged filter. Thus, it’s crucial that, as you change oil, replace the old oil filter with a new one as well.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
How Many Miles Can An Oil Filter Last?
Meanwhile, some argue that you should replace the oil filter alongside the oil inside the engine. Some say that it should be 3,000 to 5,000 miles.
Others say that it should depend on the oil you’re using. Thus, conventional oil-run vehicles should change filters at 5,000 miles and synthetic-oil-run cars at 10,000 miles.
Lastly, vehicles that often run in intense driving conditions can run their filters for up to 3,000 miles.
Nonetheless, the best way to determine when you should change oil filters is through the instructions given by the manufacturer. You can also inquire through your local mechanic and repair shop for details.
Can I Change Oil Without Changing Oil Filter?
Technically, yes. However, you’re risking the quality of soiling your newly-purchased engine oil using an old and dirty filter.
In addition, you’re also risking the performance and quality of your vehicle using a soiled oil and dirty filter. Whether you change it in a repair shop or by yourself, it can also cost some cash.
While you can change oil without changing the filter, it shouldn’t be practiced by responsible vehicle owners. It’s more practical to change both of these for your vehicle.
What Happens If You Change Oil But Not Oil Filter?
If you change your engine oil without the filter, you’ll make your newly-purchased oil dirty.
Filtering the oil is required to enter the engine, but there will be engine issues using an old, faulty filter. These include oil contamination, lubrication failure, and damages in some or most parts of the engine.
Should I Use An Oil Filter Twice?
Yes, but again, it’s risky and impractical. While you can use the same oil filter while replacing oil, it’s not highly recommended.
For one, the old filter has a lot of oil and dust build-up. Oil will not correctly flow or be filtered through this mechanism, which is disastrous for those with no bypass valves.
Even then, vehicles with bypass valves will still risk having contaminated oil mixed with new oil. This mixture will add to the problems with your engine in the first place.
As a vehicle owner, you have the responsibility to take care of your engine. This includes knowing how often you should change your oil filter.
In this case, you need to realize how essential the oil filter is to your vehicle. It acts as a defense against any impurities that can affect the quality of your oil.
Because of this, it’s important to change the filter as scheduled. While oil filter replacement is not a requirement even when changing oil, using a new filter is safer and more practical.
Lastly, you should determine the limitations of your vehicle over time. Oil filters can only bear so much pressure, so it’s our responsibility to replace them when needed.