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When should I change my oil filter?
The component should be replaced every 7,000–10,000 kilometres. However, the working lifespan of these consumables can be reduced due to constant excessive loads on the engine, low-quality oil in the lubrication system or ingress of coolant due to impaired integrity of the system. Another reason for premature replacement of the part can be engine overheating, after which the working fluid in the lubrication system and the filter itself need to be replaced.
There are no indirect symptoms of a clogged oil filter. The part is equipped with a special bypass valve, which opens when the filtering element is clogged. This helps to prevent oil starvation. However, this makes it impossible to assess filter throughput capacity. For this reason, you should follow the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations on replacement intervals and take into account the vehicle's operating conditions.
Please note: Do not install a new filtering element until you change the lubricant, as the component will quickly contaminate due to additives contained in the oil. For the same reason, you shouldn’t use an old filter with new oil: the latter will get contaminated very soon.
In some cases leaks on the filter housing indicate that the component needs replacement. The oil pressure indicator may light longer than usual in cars with a horizontally mounted filter. This can be a result of a defective anti-drainback valve.
What happens if I never change my oil filter?
The oil filter design has a special bypass valve to prevent oil starvation of the motor. It opens when you start a cold engine, in case of high oil viscosity, extremely high pressure in the lubrication system, or when the filtering element is clogged and its throughput capacity is significantly reduced. If you haven’t changed the oil filter for a long time, impure oil will constantly be delivered to the engine. This leads to increased formation of carbon and sludge deposits on engine parts, oil channels clogging, and rapid wear of the piston-cylinder group.
What are the steps for changing an oil filter?
First, you need to raise the car or place it over an inspection pit. Immobilize it using the handbrake. The engine should be warmed up slightly. Then unscrew the drain plug of the oil pan and drain the waste oil into a prepared container. Be careful: the oil is hot. After that, depending on whether your filter is of a cartridge type or not, you have to unscrew the filter housing or remove the filtering element from the housing. Cover the car body with a cloth to keep it clean. Lubricate the seal of the new filter with engine oil. The filter itself should also be filled with lubricant before installation. This helps to prevent oil starvation of the engine in the first seconds after its start. The new part must be screwed in with a torque wrench. Do not overtighten the component, as the damaged O-ring will cause the leaks in the seating position.
Next, clean the oil pan and screw in the threaded plug with a new O-ring on it. Then pour in the fresh oil to the correct level, start the engine, let it run for a while, and check the oil level with the dipstick to top up as necessary.
Can oil filter replacement improve engine performance?
No, it can’t. Oil is delivered to the engine regardless of the condition of the filtering element due to presence of a bypass valve. If this valve jams and filter throughput capacity impairs, the amount of oil entering the engine may be less than required. This makes the oil pressure indicator light up, thus letting you know about low oil pressure in the system. In this case you’ll need to eliminate the problem before you notice engine power loss.
Do the components differ?
Yes, the components may vary in size, degree of filtration capability, throughput capacity, materials of the filter element and housing, number of valves, and pressure required for these valves to open. There are spin-on and cartridge types of the oil filter. The latter are less harmful to the environment, as the ability to replace only a filtering element solves the problem of the metal parts disposal. Make sure that the components you select fully match the vehicle's design and operating conditions. The reason for this is not just installation issues. For example, if you purchase a product for a sports car with a bypass valve that opens at a small pressure, oil won’t be filtered most of the time.