How Often To Change Oil Filter

How Often Should You Change Your Car’s Oil Filter?

Keeping your car in peak condition is more than just an occasional task; it’s an essential routine that ensures safety, reliability and longevity. Among many vehicle maintenance tasks, changing the oil filter stands out as a major component that significantly impacts your engine’s health, lifespan and efficiency. The oil filter plays a key role in removing contaminants from the engine oil, preventing damage and maintaining optimal performance. Did you know 140 people in Australia every month type in to Google “how often to change oil filter”? Since Auto Stop have decades of experience in this field, we’re going to provide as much detail to answer this commonly asked question. Let’s delve into the details and find out.

Clean Oil Filter Change

Understanding The Oil Filter’s Role

What Does an Oil Filter Do?

The oil filter is a crucial component of your car’s engine system, designed to remove impurities and contaminants from the engine oil. As the engine runs, it generates heat and friction, causing tiny particles of metal, dirt and other debris to accumulate in the oil. Consequently, without an effective oil filter, these contaminants can circulate through the engine, leading to increased wear and tear, reduced efficiency and potentially severe damage.

How the Oil Filter Works

The oil filter operates by trapping these contaminants as the oil passes through it. Typically, an oil filter consists of several key parts:

  • Filter Media: A porous material, usually made from synthetic fibres or cellulose, that captures particles and debris.
  • Anti-Drain Back Valve: Prevents oil from draining out of the filter when the engine is turned off, ensuring immediate oil flow upon startup.
  • Relief Valve: Opens if the filter becomes clogged or the oil is too thick (e.g., in cold conditions), allowing oil to bypass the filter to prevent engine starvation.

Types of Contaminants

  • Dirt and Dust: Particles from the environment that enter the engine through the air intake system.
  • Metal Particles: Tiny fragments resulting from the normal wear of engine components.
  • Carbon Deposits: By-products of the combustion process.
  • Sludge: A mixture of oil, moisture and other contaminants that can form under certain conditions.

Benefits of a Clean Oil Filter

Maintaining a clean oil filter offers several significant advantages:

  • Enhanced Engine Performance: By ensuring the oil remains free of contaminants, a clean filter allows the engine to operate smoothly and efficiently.
  • Prolonged Engine Life: Reducing the amount of abrasive particles in the oil minimises wear on engine components, helping to extend the engine’s lifespan.
  • Improved Fuel Efficiency: A clean oil filter helps the engine run more efficiently, which can lead to better fuel economy.
  • Reduced Emissions: Clean oil ensures more complete combustion, resulting in fewer emissions and a smaller environmental footprint.

Understanding the vital role of the oil filter really showcases why regular maintenance is essential. Undoubtedly, keeping the oil filter in good condition is a simple and effective way to protect your engine and ensure your vehicle runs at its best.

Signs That Your Oil Filter Needs Changing

Signs That Your Oil Filter Needs Changing

Common Symptoms Of A Failing Oil Filter

To sum up all of the common symptoms of a faulty or failing oil filter, let us look at the most typical situations that gives us a heads up it’s time to check your oil filter.

Decreased Engine Performance

When the oil filter becomes clogged, it restricts the flow of oil to the engine. This can cause the engine to work harder, leading to reduced performance. You may notice a drop in power, sluggish acceleration, or a decrease in fuel efficiency. The engine might also run hotter than usual due to the reduced lubrication and increased friction.

  • What to Look For: Difficulty in accelerating, reduced power output, and frequent stalling.
  • Why It Happens: The oil filter is designed to keep the oil clean and free of debris. When it becomes clogged, the oil flow is restricted, and the engine does not receive the lubrication it needs to function efficiently.

Strange Engine Noises

A failing oil filter can lead to inadequate oil supply to the engine’s moving parts. This lack of lubrication can cause unusual noises such as ticking, knocking, or grinding sounds. Whenever you hear these noises, it is generally a sign that metal parts are coming into contact with each other without sufficient oil, which can cause significant damage if not addressed promptly.

  • What to Listen For: Unusual sounds such as ticking, knocking, or grinding.
  • Why It Happens: Insufficient oil flow leads to increased friction between the engine’s moving parts, causing these noises. Prolonged exposure to this condition can result in severe engine damage.

Filthy Exhaust Smoke

If the oil filter is not effectively removing contaminants, these particles can enter the combustion chamber and burn along with the fuel. This can result in dark or dirty smoke coming from the exhaust. In severe cases, you might also notice oil leaking from the exhaust, indicating a serious issue that requires immediate attention.

  • What to Observe: Dark, dirty smoke or oil leaks from the exhaust pipe.
  • Why It Happens: Contaminants that are not filtered out by a clogged oil filter can enter the combustion chamber, leading to incomplete combustion and dirty smoke. This indicates that the engine is burning oil along with fuel.

Warning Lights on the Dashboard

Modern vehicles are equipped with sensors that monitor various engine parameters, including oil pressure. If the oil filter is clogged, it can cause a drop in oil pressure, triggering the oil pressure warning light on the dashboard. This light is a critical indicator that something is wrong with your engine’s lubrication system and it should not be ignored.

  • What to Check: The oil pressure warning light or the check engine light.
  • Why It Happens: Sensors detect changes in oil pressure and flow. A clogged oil filter can cause a drop in oil pressure, triggering these warning lights. Immediate attention is required to prevent potential engine damage.

Recognising these symptoms early can help you address oil filter issues before they lead to more serious and costly problems. Regularly checking and changing your oil filter as part of routine maintenance is crucial for keeping your engine running smoothly and efficiently.

Oil Filter Change Intervals

Recommended Oil Filter Change Intervals

When it comes to oil filter changes, the golden rule is to follow the manufacturer’s advice. Generally, this means swapping out your oil filter every 5,000 to 10,000 kilometres or every six months—whichever comes first. Think of it as a regular health check-up for your car, keeping it running smoothly and efficiently.

Manufacturer Recommendations vs. Real-World Practices

Despite the above statement, when it comes to changing your car’s oil filter, the recommendations can vary widely. Car manufacturers typically provide guidelines in the owner’s manual, but real-world conditions often necessitate adjustments to these intervals. Sometimes it is a combo of real world and manufacturer guidelines that truly dictates what the changing intervals are.

Manufacturer-Recommended Intervals

Most manufacturers suggest changing the oil filter every 5,000 to 10,000 kilometres (or change it every 6 months if you haven’t driven those distances). Here’s a comparison of some popular car makes and models and their recommended intervals:

Car Model Recommended Interval (Kilometres)
Toyota Corolla 10,000
Ford Ranger 15,000
Mazda 3 10,000
Hyundai i30 15,000
Holden Commodore 7,500

While these guidelines provide a good starting point, your specific driving conditions can significantly impact how often you should change your oil filter.

Impact of Driving Conditions

What’s more important than throwing a blanket figure out, is truly identifying other factors that impact oil change intervals. These are some of the most common driving conditions that affect the change timings.

City Driving

Frequent Stops and Starts: If you drive primarily in the city, frequent stopping and starting can cause more wear on your engine. This creates more contaminants that the oil filter needs to capture, potentially necessitating more frequent changes.

  • Short Trips: Short trips don’t allow the engine to reach optimal operating temperature, which can lead to increased condensation and sludge build-up.

Highway Driving

Longer, Continuous Trips: Highway driving generally results in fewer stops and more consistent engine performance, which can extend the life of your oil filter.

  • Less Wear and Tear: Constant speeds and fewer stops mean less strain on your engine, often allowing you to stick closer to the manufacturer’s recommended intervals.

Extreme Temperatures

Hot Climates: High temperatures can cause oil to break down faster, requiring more frequent oil and filter changes.

  • Cold Climates: Cold weather can thicken oil, making it harder for the filter to work efficiently, which may also lead to more frequent changes.

Professional automotive mechanics should advise a more tailored approach based on your driving habits and conditions. Here are some common practices recommended by professionals:

  • Regular Checks: Even if you’re following the manufacturer’s guidelines, it’s a good idea to check your oil and filter condition regularly. Look for signs of dirt and sludge build-up.
  • Seasonal Adjustments: Adjust your oil filter change schedule based on seasonal changes. For instance, increase the frequency during extreme weather conditions.
  • High Km Vehicles: If your vehicle has high kms (over 150,000km), consider changing the oil filter more frequently than the manufacturer recommends, as older engines tend to produce more contaminants.

Vehicle Influences Oil Changes

Vehicle Age and Type

  • Older Vehicles: Older engines may produce more contaminants, requiring more frequent oil filter changes.
  • Vehicle Type: High-performance vehicles or those used for towing and heavy-duty applications may also need more regular maintenance.

Type of Oil Used

  • Conventional Oil: Generally, vehicles using conventional oil might need more frequent oil and filter changes.
  • Synthetic Oil: Synthetic oils typically last longer and may extend the interval between oil filter changes.

Understanding both the manufacturer’s recommendations and the real-world practices advised by mechanics can help you develop a maintenance schedule that keeps your engine running smoothly. Regular oil filter changes, tailored to your specific driving conditions, are key to prolonging your vehicle’s lifespan and ensuring optimal performance.

Inspecting Your Oil Filter

Inspecting Your Oil Filter

DIY Inspection Guide

Inspecting your oil filter is a straightforward task that you can do at home with a few basic tools. You’ll need an oil filter wrench, a flashlight, gloves, and safety glasses. Start by locating the oil filter, usually found near the engine. Use the flashlight to check for any visible signs of leaks or damage.

Necessary Tools and Safety Tips

For safety, ensure your car is parked on a level surface and the engine is cool. Wear gloves and safety glasses to protect yourself from oil and debris. Gently try to turn the oil filter by hand to check its tightness. If it’s loose, tighten it with the oil filter wrench.

When to Seek Professional Help

If you notice any significant damage, leaks, or if the filter is too difficult to reach, it’s best to consult a professional mechanic. They can provide a more thorough inspection and address any underlying issues.

Changing Your Oil Filter

Changing Your Oil Filter

DIY Oil Filter Change

Changing your oil filter yourself can save money and ensure it’s done right. You’ll need an oil filter wrench, a new oil filter, and a drain pan. First, drain the old oil, then use the wrench to remove the old filter. Install the new filter by applying a small amount of clean oil to the gasket and screwing it on by hand, then tighten it with the wrench.

Tips for Choosing the Right Oil Filter

Ensure you select the correct oil filter for your vehicle by checking the owner’s manual or consulting with an auto parts store. Using the right filter ensures optimal performance and protection for your engine.

Professional Oil Filter Change

Changing your oil filter can be a dirty and grimy process. It involves dealing with old, used oil that can get on your tools, hands, floor and other areas, making the task quite messy. Having a qualified mechanic to change your oil filter offers peace of mind and spares you from this hassle. Professionals have the expertise and tools to perform the job quickly and efficiently, ensuring your vehicle is properly serviced while keeping everything clean. They can also check for any additional issues during the process, providing a thorough service that can catch potential problems early. While it may cost more, the convenience and assurance of a professional service can be well worth the investment, saving you from the mess and potential mistakes of a DIY job.

Benefits Of Changing Oil Filter

Benefits of Regular Oil Filter Changes

Regularly changing your car’s oil filter is more than just a routine task, it is a crucial maintenance step that offers numerous long-term benefits. Here’s how keeping up with oil filter changes can positively impact your vehicle.

Improved Engine Performance

A clean oil filter ensures that your engine oil remains free of contaminants, allowing the engine to operate smoothly. When the oil filter is in good condition, it effectively removes dirt, metal particles, and other debris from the oil. This clean oil lubricates the engine parts more efficiently, reducing friction and wear, and resulting in a smoother, more responsive driving experience.

Increased Engine Lifespan

Contaminants in the oil can cause significant damage to your engine over time. By regularly changing the oil filter, you minimise the amount of harmful particles circulating through the engine. This reduces the wear and tear on vital engine components, helping to extend the overall lifespan of your vehicle. An engine that runs on clean oil is less likely to suffer from breakdowns and requires fewer major repairs.

Better Fuel Efficiency

A clean oil filter helps maintain optimal oil flow and pressure within the engine. When the engine is well-lubricated and free from contaminants, it operates more efficiently. This improved efficiency can lead to better fuel economy, saving you money at the petrol pump. Over time, the savings on fuel can add up, making regular oil filter changes a cost-effective maintenance practice.

Cost Savings on Repairs

Neglecting to change your oil filter can lead to a build-up of contaminants in the engine oil, which can cause severe engine damage. Repairing or replacing engine parts can be extremely expensive. Regular oil filter changes are a simple and relatively inexpensive way to prevent costly repairs down the road. By investing in routine maintenance, you can avoid the high costs associated with major engine repairs or replacements.

It is common for fleet vehicles that adhere to a strict maintenance schedule, including regular oil filter changes every 10,000 kilometres, experience significant benefits. These fleets have seen a decrease in fuel consumption and a reduction in repair costs over the course of a year. Additionally, these vehicles experienced fewer breakdowns, resulting in improved operational efficiency and enhanced customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the tangible advantages of regular oil filter maintenance in real-world applications.

Regular oil filter changes offer a multitude of benefits that can enhance your vehicle’s performance, longevity and efficiency. By staying on top of this essential maintenance task, you can save money, reduce the risk of costly repairs, and enjoy a smoother driving experience.

Check & Change Car Oil Filter Every 5,000-10,000kms

Check Your Oil Filter Every 5,000km, Change It Every 10,000km.

Regular oil filter changes are not just routine—they’re a game-changer for your vehicle’s longevity and performance. This simple maintenance step can make the difference between an engine that lives happily and one that struggles.

Changing your oil filter regularly ensures that your engine is always running on clean oil, free from harmful contaminants. This not only boosts performance but also extends the life of your engine, saving you from expensive repairs down the road. Think of it as a small investment with huge returns: better fuel efficiency, smoother rides and a car that stays reliable for years to come.

The real-world benefits are undeniable. Whether you’re navigating city streets or cruising the highways, a well-maintained oil filter keeps your engine in peak condition. And for those managing fleets, significant reductions in fuel consumption and repair costs, coupled with fewer breakdowns, highlight the impact of this essential maintenance task.

So, don’t overlook the humble oil filter. Make it a priority in your maintenance routine.

As a general rule of thumb look at getting your oil filter checked every 5,000km. The longest you leave your oil filter to be changed should be every 10,000kms. In saying that, if you rarely drive the vehicle, always get it checked every 6 months as a safe option.

Your car is a valuable asset and taking care of it with regular oil filter changes is one of the smartest moves you can make. This simple act can transform your driving experience and ensure your vehicle serves you well for the long haul. Keep up with your oil filter changes and you’ll keep your engine running for a long time!

Auto Stop are professionals in oil filter changing, replacement and repairs and we have a comprehensive service in both Brisbane and Gold Coast. Contact us for any car oil filter issues you may have, we’re here to help.