We have seen many car owners ask this particular question, “How often should I change my oil filter?” Quite many others have asked, “How many miles can I drive before changing my car’s oil filter?”
Generally, drivers are advised to change their car oil filter, at least, after every 3000 miles or during an oil change. But we’ll look more into these questions below.
Well, regardless of the question(s) you have in mind regarding changing your car engine’s oil filter, this article will explain and answer a lot of questions regarding the use and change of oil filters.’
What Is An Oil Filter and What Does It Do In A Car?
The oil filter is one of the commonly neglected (vital) components in a car. It is a small, inexpensive circular gear that sits at the entrance of your car engine’s opening.
An oil filter does an important job, which is to prevent containments that might have flowed with the engine oil from getting into the engine.
Typically, the engine gets dirty on its own – combustion causes carbon and other stuff to dent the engine and practically affects its performance.
However, the core essence of engine oils is to flow into the engine and wipe (clean) those carbon and dirt that have clouded the engine’s components while lubricating the engine so that it functions seamlessly without friction.
But when the engine oil is contaminated, it won’t efficiently clean the engine; instead, it cleans the engine-generated dirt and dumps the debris (it may have carried along through the pathway).
If this occurs continually for a long time, these containments carried by the oil will begin to accumulate inside the engine, and this can lead to a fatal engine breakdown.
An oil filter prevents dirt and other containments from penetrating the engine; it performs this function efficiently.
However, when the filter is old or weak (due to aging or high mileage), it may not be able to restrain the impurities in the oil, which could lead to engine breakdown (as explained in the prev. paragraph above).
So, what are we saying? We simply mean to say that you need to change your oil filter after some time to ensure that your car engine gets nothing but pure engine oil. This simple act can make your car engine to last longer (you should also wash the engine bay once in a while), and perform smoothly.
But the big question remains, how often should oil filters be changed?
Let’s discuss that below!
How Often Should I Change My Oil Filter?
Not all auto manufacturers do specify when to change the filter (maybe after some miles or period), and for those that include it in their manuals – they typically advise drivers to change the filter after every 3000 miles or during an oil change.
In contrast, most mechanics advise their customers to replaces oil filters after running 7000 miles or after the second oil change. You can see that things are getting a bit confusing here – who should you believe?
Your car manufacturer or the professional auto technician (probably your personal mechanic)? Well, this is what we have to say.
There are factors that will define when you should change your oil filter. Changing the oil filter when you change oil can be too early; although oil filters aren’t expensive (costs around $10 on average), you should wait for some time before replacing an old filter with a new one.
If you regularly drive in severe conditions or use your vehicle to convey heavy loads, then you may need to change the filter quite earlier than most recommendations.
This is because such situations stress your engine to perform maximally (harder), and thus, the engine and its components need to be maintained regularly.
However, if you are a conventional or occasional driver, you may need not to change your filter every time you change the oils. The time to change oil filter in different cars vary, but it is advisable to perform this action (filter change) after every 7000 miles.
Should I Change The Oil Filter Every Oil Change?
The idea of changing your car’s oil filter each time you change the oil is purely a myth – however, unless you are a high mileage driver or you own an old car (with an old engine) that cannot efficiently isolate debris.
But since you can buy oil filters at a very low price, you can still replace the oil filter each time you go for an oil change. More so, if someone does the oil change for your vehicle, the person may likely change the oil filter instantly (since it is inexpensive). It is still very safe and advisable to change oil filters at oil changes.
Some “very careful” drivers stick to this practice and it’s very okay!
On the contrary, in some owner manuals, manufacturers recommend changing the filter after the second oil change (we also recommend this). So, if you ride 3000 miles in-between oil change – it implies that you’ll have to change the oil filter after every 6000 miles.
Can I Change Oil Without Changing Oil Filter?
This is almost similar to what is discussed above – changing the oil filter during an oil change. It is totally safe not to change the filter while refilling oil to the engine. But, if you are not consistent with particular engine oil (especially if you mix oils), then you should consider replacing the filter at every oil change.
Although mixing engine oils isn’t bad and poses no apparent damage to your engine, it is generally not advisable to do that.
Hence, whether you mix different weights of oil, different brands of oil, or different types of oil, always have it in mind that you should change your filter earlier (probably at every oil change) so that your engine will keep receiving clean oil.
What Happens If You Change The Oil But Not The Filter?
We have received this question quite a couple of times from different people. Well, if you changed your oil filter during the last oil change, not changing the filter again at the subsequent oil change means no damage to your engine. Oil filters don’t expire quickly unless you are a driver that covers very long-distance quite frequently.
In contrast, a lot of things could go wrong if you delay for too long before changing the oil filter. Since it is practically impossible to detect if an oil filter has gone bad or not; if it is not changed as when due, a lot of stuff can get into the engine, reduce its performance or even cause critical damage.
Below are some expensive damages you are likely to face for not changing the oil filter when due.
- Complete engine breakdown: when the oil filter is bad and debris finds its way into the engine, over time, it accumulates to cause different issues that could lead to a complete engine breakdown.
- Poor engine performance: apparently, when the engine isn’t clean, it causes the performance to decline. This is because the rotors may not be able to spin freely due to sludge.
Also, in some situations, not changing the filter may void the warranty on the car. There are other engine-related problems that may result from leaving the oil filter to go bad or get damaged.
We do not advise cleaning and reusing oil filters – they are pretty inexpensive for you to ignore. You may possibly damage the filter while trying to clean it up. But it is actually safe to clean and reuse oil filters if you’re certain that they are still in good shape.
On average, it is expected that you change the oil filter after running 7000 miles. You should always make out time for this action as it is very important for the effective and efficient performance of your engine.
Does A Bad Oil Filter Show Any Sign?
There is no error icon that notifies of a bad oil filter on the dashboard. Also, there is no physical test that can determine a bad filter. In fact, there’s virtually no means of identifying a damaged or bad filter.
The only time you may know that your filter has been bad/damaged is when your engine breaks down due to sludge.
Because it is impossible to detect a bad filter, that’s why drivers are strongly advised to change filters at intervals. However, if the check engine light shows up on the dashboard (calling your attention to check your engine), it could be a sign that your engine’s oil filter is due for a change.
We have carefully covered a lot of information regarding the use and replacement of oil filters. Kindly note that oil filters differ from fuel filters and they really perform a good job – keeping your engine neat and free from dirt improves its general performance.
Hence, when next someone asks, “How often should I change my oil filter?” simply reply to him/her with what’s provided in this article.
Changing the filter at each oil change is good, not changing it for a long time is still good (if you haven’t driven 7000 miles). Just don’t use a particular oil filter for so long – you may be silently killing your engine.