Except for electric vehicles, all vehicles have an oil filter to prevent engine oil contamination for better performance.
Did you know that you need to change your oil filter more frequently than any other vehicle component, including the tires? Yes, the oil filters get clogged very fast, and their clogging affects your vehicle's overall performance.
The question remains, “How often to change oil filters?” The quickest answer to this question is: it depends.
The frequency of changing the engine’s fuel filter depends on the car’s make, model, year, age, usage, and automaker specifications.
Why does my vehicle have an oil filter?
As the name suggests, the oil filter is responsible for preventing contamination and foreign objects from making its way to the engine. To do so, the filter is usually made of several layers of fabric or other suitable material that can help to stop dirt passing through.
If your vehicle doesn’t have any oil filter, all contamination and small sand will run freely within the engine’s assembly affecting its performance by causing clogging. With a clogged engine, your vehicle will not receive the necessary power and, thus, will not move.
Over time of use, your oil filters reach their absorption capacity and cannot function anymore. That’s when you need to change the fuel filter.
Symptoms of a bad oil filter
Unfortunately, you can’t visually inspect your engine’s oil filter to determine whether it needs replacement or not. This is because these filters are usually closed with specific metal seals.
What makes things even more complicated is that your vehicle will not give you any warning signs or check lights indicating a bad oil filter. The only way for you to know that your oil filter needs replacement is by monitoring and looking for one of these symptoms:
Your engine will overheat
Engine overheating is one of the most complicated problems you don’t want to deal with, including engine self-destruction.
While your engine might overheat due to a long list of reasons, a bad oil filter can be the culprit. The oil cools down any heat generated by friction through lubrication.
A clogged oil filter stops the flow of oil to the moving components of your engine. Consequently, the engine might overhead due to the friction between these moving components. Right when the engine overheats, you will see a check engine light illuminating to grab your attention for immediate action
Your vehicle will not have the best performance
As contaminations build up in your car’s engine, your engine's overall efficiency will be affected, dropping your vehicle’s performance.
Ignoring a clogged oil filter makes the problem worse, and you will notice this right after you press the gas pedal and not find enough acceleration.
Your vehicle’s exhaust will produce dirty fumes
If the oil filter is clogged, there is a high chance for this oil to get to the exhaust system and burn.
One of the immediate results of burning oil is a strange white or blue smoke coming out of the tailpipe. Furthermore, you can easily detect a clogged oil filter by smelling an oil-burning-like smell.
If you detected any of the mentioned symptoms, you must replace the oil filter immediately.
Your vehicle’s oil pressure drops significantly
An erratic drop in oil pressure is one of the most common symptoms of a clogged oil filter.
There is one responsible for reading your engine’s oil pressure within the different warning lights and gages on your dashboard. The gage’s reading should not change unless you have a problem like a clogged oil filter.
You will hear metallic grinding
The primary job of your engine’s fuel is to prevent moving components from grinding against each other. These components will not have enough lubrication with low oil supply and will make metallic grinding like noises.
Hearing the grinding noises will be very obvious, and you must take quick action before the internal components of your engine wear each outer.
How often to change oil filters?
If you noticed any of the mentioned signs of a bad oil filter, you must change it immediately. However, if you still find it hard to monitor and detect the mentioned symptoms, follow these maintenance routines to avoid getting involved in complicated situations due to a bad oil filter:
Replace your oil filter every time you go for an oil change
The majority of automotive experts recommend changing the engine oil once every three or six months. When replacing the oil filter every time you perform an oil change, you won’t deal with the oil filter clogging problem.
When your check engine light illuminate, try replacing the oil filter before going to the repair shop
Your vehicle’s internal computer uses the dashboard lights, including the check engine light, to grab your attention about the internal mechanical malfunction. While the problem could be very complicated, it can be as simple as changing your oil filter.
Therefore, anytime you face a check engine light illuminating, try replacing the oil filter before going to the dealership or the repair shop and spending a lot of money.
Consider replacing the oil filter more often if you live in a rough environment
Driving in harsher environments requires your engine to work much more to provide more power.
For instance, if your vehicle tows something more often or drives in extreme temperature environments, the engine is expected to work more and require more oil to lubricate.
That been said, you must replace your oil filter more than other people who drive their vehicles on city roads.
How to change the oil filter?
It is usually recommended to have a professional mechanic perform most mechanical repairs to your vehicle if you don’t have the required mechanical skills.
Replacing an oil filter is one of the very simple tasks that you can do on your own to save tons of labor costs. This task takes about 30 minutes and involves removing the old filter, draining the old oil, installing the new filter, and adding new oil.
Remove the old filter and remove the old oil
Before you open the oil drain plug, you must place a pan that’s large enough to take all the old oil in your engine.
Once your pan is ready, open the oil plug, allow the oil to drain, and replace the plug if needed.
Locate the oil filter, which is a metal cylinder placed somewhere in the engine’s block. If you could not locate it, you might refer to the vehicle’s owner’s manual for more details.
If you don’t have a copy of the vehicle’s owner’s manual, you can download a copy from the web or request one from your mechanic.
Before removing the oil filter, place the pan underneath the filter to collect any oil draining. It will help if you let the oil filter drain for at least 24 hours in the pan by facing it down.
Install the new filter and pour new oil
The new filter needs lubrication with motor oil before installation. Then, install the new oil filter onto the engine block manually. Make sure not to tighten the new oil filter more than ¾ a turn.
Once the new filter is installed, add the required amount of motor oil to your engine.
There are multiple types of engine oil to choose from, including:
- Conventional oil: this oil is the most common and used by almost all vehicles. If you decided to go with conventional oil, you need to change it every 3,000 miles.
- Premium conventional oil: this oil is a little better than the conventional oil
- Full-synthetic oil: this oil is used for high-performance cars, and you don’t have to use it if your vehicle’s owner’s manual didn’t say so.
- Synthetic-blend oil: this oil is usually used by larger trucks and SUVs
- High-mileage oil: this oil is mostly recommended for vehicles around 75,000 miles or higher.
Except for electrical vehicles, every vehicle is equipped with an oil filter to prevent contamination from getting to the engine. Over time of use, the oil filter gets clogged with dirt and other foreign objects.
As the oil filter gets clogged, you might notice a drop in your vehicle’s performance, an increase in your engine’s temperature, a weird smoke coming out of the tailpipe, and a drop in the oil pressure.
Many people raise questions about how often to change oil filters, and the simple answer is it depends. You need to change the oil filter every time you notice a sign of a bad oil filter, every time you do an oil change, and if your engine’s check light illuminates.
Ignoring a clogged oil filter leads to complicated problems like a complete engine failure due to engine overheating.
Replacing the oil filter is one of the very simple tasks that you can do following available tutorials online.