Changing your engine’s oil filter is one of the most important and critical maintenance items on your car. Whether you replace it yourself or have the quick lube shop handle the job, changing your car’s oil filter on a regular basis is paramount to keeping your engine running in top condition.
What does the oil filter do?
The purpose of the oil filter is to screen out combustion contaminants, dirt and carbon deposits from the engine oil that lubricates your engine’s internal components. The oil filter stops the debris and contaminants prior to passing through the filter and traps them inside so they don’t find their way into the engine, which could cause excessive internal engine wear, tear and damage.
Why does my oil filter need regular replacement?
Over time, the oil filter gradually becomes more clogged as it traps billions of contaminant particles and carbon dust. A clogged oil filter reduces the amount of clean oil passing through the oil filter, necessitating its replacement.
How do you know when your oil filter needs to be replaced?
The oil filter is a permanently-sealed metal unit so it isn’t possible for you to perform a visual inspection to determine when it needs to be replaced. There is no instrument, gauge or warning light that comes on to remind you that it is time to change your oil filter; you will not even notice the impact a clogged or dirty oil filter has on your engine. The impact of a clogged or dirty filter could include all or some of the following:
- Lack of engine lubrication
- Premature engine wear and tear
- Internal engine damage
- Loss of oil pressure
Even though your engine may be experiencing these issues internally, you may not realize it until it is too late and your engine has been damaged.
When should I change my oil filter?
The key to oil filter replacement is to replace the filter before it becomes clogged or too dirty that it damages your engine. Replacing your oil filter with a high quality oil filter will help ensure a long-lasting engine.
Your vehicle’s owner’s manual will give recommendations on how often to change your oil and filter. Your driving habits have an impact on how often you perform an oil change. If you do a lot of city driving or short trips, you might need to change your oil filter more often than someone who does mostly highway driving.
What happens if I don’t change my oil filter when needed?
Your engine requires a tremendous volume of clean oil to operate properly. If the oil filter is not changed periodically, the filter can become severely clogged, reducing the volume of oil passing through the filter and into your engine. Without this oil, your engine can suffer severe damage.
As a safeguard to oil filter clogging, premium oil filters contain a bypass valve which regulates oil pressure within the oil filter. If the oil filter were to become fully clogged, this bypass valve would open allowing oil to continue to circulate into your engine. However, the oil would be dirty, unfiltered oil that has bypassed the oil filter. Without that bypass valve, your engine would have sustained terminal damage.
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