engine oil filter

Engine oil filter: Everything you need to know

Find out all about a car’s oil filter, how and when to replace it.

Car owners often receive very disparate advice about their vehicle’s oil filter.

Often, the user´s manual, auto parts vendors and mechanics have different opinions which increases insecurity when making decisions.

The reality is that when it comes to oil and filters several correct answers appears since drivers, driving conditions and driving styles are all different.

In this article, we clarify what the engine oil filter is and how or when it should be replaced.

What is engine oil?

We can’t talk about engine oil filter without talking about oil.

Oil is an essential fluid for the health of the engine in any vehicle. It acts as a lubricant, coating all engine internal moving parts with a layer that prevents metal-to-metal contact from causing malfunctions. The oil also helps regulate the engine temperature.

However, over time it loses its characteristics, deteriorating until it does not effectively fulfill the lubrication function of the various engine components.

There are several factors causing the oil contamination. Most of the pollutants (sand, asphalt debris, among others) are brought by air and mix in engine oil.

In addition to the dirt coming from the outside, the engine also “produces” its own impurities. The deterioration of some parts and combustion debris, such as water vapor (which can accumulate inside the engine when it is operating at low temperatures), acid and carbon also contaminate the oil.

Due to these contaminations, and to prevent the vehicle from being damaged, the engine is equipped with an oil filter.

If, as many suggest, oil is the life force of your engine, then the oil filter is your kidney, the main responsible for filtering out unwanted materials.


What is the importance of the engine oil filter?

The engine oil filters were developed with the aim of keeping the oil clean to be used in the vehicle lubrication system.

The oil filter is thus essential for:
● Protect the engine.
● Extend the life of the vehicle.
● Save fuel.
● Lubricate the components;
● Promote good engine performance.


What types of engine oil filter are there?

There are various kinds of engine oil filters. These can be classified into whether or not the filter can separate from the case, by its composition or by the filter method.


Oil filters by separation:

  • Shielded Filters or Monoblock: These are the most used oil filters today. The filter element cannot be separated from the casing and therefore to replace them it is necessary to remove the complete part.
  • Cartridge Filter: These filters are commonly used in gasoline-powered vehicles. Unlike the previous one, it is not necessary to remove the entire part to do its cleaning. Just clean the casing and put it back in place.


Oil filters by composition:

  • Paper or cellulose filter: if sustainability is a concern for you, these filters are a good option because they are the most environmentally friendly. They are, at the same time, the easiest to find and the cheapest.
  • Synthetic material filter: these filters can filter more harmful particles because their pores are narrower than the previous those made with cellulose.
  • Microcrystal membrane filters: these filters are considered the best on the market and multiply the effectiveness of other filter types. Their price is higher than the rest, so they are usually used in premium vehicles.


Oil filters by filtration method:

  • Mechanical: known as pressure oil filters because the oil passes through the filter thanks to the pressure exerted by the engine. It is one of the most common and is usually used with cellulose or paper filters.
  • Centrifue: through centrifugal force, it forces contaminant particles to cross the filter zone. Most are cartridge filters and are easily replaced.
  • Sedimentation: this is the simplest filtration method of all. The force of gravity causes harmful particles to deposit directly into the filter.
  • Magnetic: Use a magnet to capture the solid particles of the suspension. It is usually not used in engines, but in gearboxes that have their own oil.

How to change the engine oil filter?

As a rule, the replacement of the engine oil filter is usually done according to the manufacturer’s manual, although it is ideal to it on each oil replacement, regardless of the kilometers done by the car.

The tools (and safety equipment) needed to change the oil filter may vary from vehicle to vehicle, but the most common are:

● Key to release the stoplet from the sum plug;
● Strap key to remove the filter;
● Iron sandpaper;
● Clean cloth;
● Container to pour used oil;
● Oil vacuum cleaner
● Gloves;
● Goggles.


Replacing the oil filter is something simple, but the skilled labor always guarantees better results.

To change the engine oil filter, follow the following steps:

  • Remove the oil supply cap and the engine level indicator rod for better runoff of dirty oil;
  • Still with the hot engine, drain all the oil through the sump drain;
  • Remove the filter if possible, manually or with the appropriate tool;
  • With a clean cloth, clean the sealing area of the engine block;
  • Check the filter seal to see if it is properly placed in its housing and lightly grease it with engine oil;
  • Mount the filter on the head until the gasket touches the engine seal area;
  • Squeeze approximately 3/4 of a turn;
  • Fill the engine with oil according to the recommended amount.
  • Turn on the car and check if there is any indication of the oil level on the panel;
  • After a few minutes, check for oil leakage in the sealing region; if any, tighten again and check again.

To avoid malfunctions, it is essential that the oil filter is inspected whenever the oil is replaced or when preventive maintenance of the car is performed.


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