How an Engine Oil Filter Works
We all know how important it is to get your oil changed regularly, but few realize it is equally important to have a clean, working oil filter. An engine can't perform well without clean motor oil, and your motor oil can't perform well unless the oil filter is also doing its job. Here at Canfield Auto Repair, we can put you on a regular maintenance schedule according to your driving habits.
A car's oil filter performs two essential tasks to keep your engine running. It filters waste and keeps oil in the right place at the right time.
Driving with a dirty oil filter can harm or even ruin your engine. Understanding what your oil filter is and how it works can help you recognize when it's time for an oil filter replacement.
What does an oil filter do?
It filters waste.
Oil removes contaminants from engine oil, maintaining high oil quality and extending the engine's life. If you have too little, too much, incorrectly pressurized or contaminated oil, it can damage your engine. Oil takes on little metal shavings and particles from the combustion process. If left unchecked, these particles can quickly accumulate and damage the pump, engine bearings, cylinder walls, and any other area the oil passes under pressure. Particles can also clog the filter, which puts you in danger of decreased oil pressure and can quickly cause severe engine damage.
The oil pump sends used oil through the filter, removing the particles and allowing the oil to pass through. The freshly strained, clean oil then returns to the engine to help your vehicle run smoothly. It keeps oil where it should be.
Your oil filter doesn't just filter waste. Its many parts work together to keep it in the right place at the right time.
Here is a brief explanation of each part of an oil filter and what it does:
- Tapping Plate: Oil enters and exits the oil filter through a tapping plate, which has a center hole surrounded by smaller ones. Motor oil goes through the small holes, through the filter material, and then flows to your engine through the bigger hole in the center.
- Filter Material: The actual filter is made of synthetic mesh that acts as a sieve to catch contaminants in the motor oil. It is folded into pleats to create a greater surface area.
- Anti-Drain Back Valve: When your car is not running, this valve closes to prevent oil from seeping back into your filter from the engine.
- Relief Valve: In cold weather, motor oil can thicken, making it difficult to move through the oil filter. The relief valve discharges a bit of unfiltered motor oil to warm up your engine and give it a boost.
- End Discs: Two discs on either side of the filter prevent unfiltered oil from passing through to your engine. They are typically made of metal or fiber.
- It's not necessary to remember all of these parts, but having a basic knowledge of how they all work together can help you understand how important it is to regularly replace your oil filter.
Oil filters need to be replaced regularly.
By the time you have driven 3,000 miles (the generally recommended interval for oil changes), your oil has gone through the filter 12,000 times. Like other car parts, the filter functions less effectively regular wear and tear. Most manufacturers recommend replacing your oil filter every time you get an oil change, but you can check your owner's manual for specific recommendations. A survey by the Car Care Council found that 1 in 4 cars had low levels of engine oil or had dirty oil. If your vehicle is one of these, it may not be operating at its best, partly because your filter needs replacement. Symptoms that your oil or oil filter need to be replaced could include:
- Low oil pressure
- Acceleration problems
- Metallic noises under the hood
- Changes in exhaust color
There are many different makes and sizes of oil filters, and it's important to consult your owner's manual to verify that the replacement will fit correctly. A filter that doesn't fit well can cause leaks and damage the engine's threads, which will require more intensive repairs. If the oil filter is too loose or too big, it can come off entirely, making a big mess and causing more significant internal problems.
Canfield Auto Repair Service can help.
One of our expert technicians will change your car's oil, replace your car's used oil filter, perform a comprehensive courtesy inspection, and top off your car's other essential fluids.
Schedule an oil change at your local Canfield Auto Repair Service today and drive with confidence, knowing that the job's been done right.