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How Often Should I change My Vehicle’s Oil filter?

by Michael on June 15, 2012

Along with regular oil changes it is necessary for the extended life of your engine to change your oil filter on a regular basis also.  The rule of thumb is to change your oil filter at every oil change.  To help lower the cost of vehicle maintenance and ownership many car manufactures say the oil filter only needs to be changed at every other oil change.  Most experienced mechanics will tell you the doing so can actually end up costing you more money in the long run.  Oil filters are relatively inexpensive and the benefits of a clean oil filter are many.

Most engines today have oil filters that have been downsized from quart-sized to pint-sized to save space, cost and weight.  The smaller filter has less overall filtering capacity and while it may be fine for a 3,000 mile oil change interval the capacity may run out before a second oil change at 6,000 miles.  Even with a larger oil filter, changing it every 3,000 to 5,000 miles (depending on if you use synthetic oil) is highly recommended.

The oil filter helps prevent against abrasion and premature engine wear.  The filter’s main job is to remove dirt, debris, carbon, metal and by-products of combustion from the oil before they can cause damage to the engine.  Over time the oil becomes thicker and more polluted with these contaminants.  When the oil is changed and the old oil filter is left in, about a pint to a quart of the dirty oil remains in the filter, which then contaminates the new oil.

Today’s engines have what is called “full-flow filtration”.  The oil is picked up by the oil pump and sent through the filter before it’s circulated through the crankshaft bearings, cam bearings and valve train.  This is a efficient way of removing contaminants and making sure your engine is supplied with only filtered oil.  Over time, accumulated contaminants trapped in the filter begin to obstruct the oil flow; this can lead to lowered oil pressure and in some cases, overflow the dirty oil into the crankcase and engine, increasing engine wear.

Oil filters are relatively inexpensive and the benefits of keeping as clean oil filter in your car are many.  You will have a cleaner, cooler, well-lubricated engine, which in turn will give you optimized engine performance and better gas mileage.  your vehicle will also emit less exhaust, reducing engine by-product emissions and your engine will last longer too.

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