Here are 5 signs that your oil filter is dirty or blocked (and how to replace it).

The oil filter is responsible for keeping the motor oil clean in your car’s engine. A clogged, or poor oil filter can cause engine failure. That’s why it is important to understand the symptoms of a bad or clogged oil filter before problems begin. 

We review warning signs that indicate a bad oil filter to help prolong your vehicle's life expectancy. The oil filter's role, location and cost of replacement are all discussed. Let’s begin with a quick look at the signs to look for.

Índice de Contenido
  1. Five Signs of a Clogged Oil Filter
    1. 1. Oil Pressure Warning symbol on dashboard
    2. 2. Low Oil Pressure
    3. 3. Noisy Engine
    4. 4. High Oil Pressure
    5. 5. Engine stalling
  2. Oil filter location
  3. An Oil Filter's Function
  4. Replacing an oil filter that is clogged costs money
  5. FAQ on Oil Filter
    1. Is a blocked oil filter able to cause idle problems?
    2. What can cause an oil filter to become clogged and make a vehicle not start?
    3. How frequently should the oil filter be changed?
    4. How does a bad oil filtrate affect the performance of your vehicle?

Five Signs of a Clogged Oil Filter

An oil pressure warning indicator on your dashboard is one of the first signs that you have an oil filter problem. There may be more engine noise when the engine is idle, or at acceleration. However, a stalling engine can also be a warning sign. If it does happen, however, the engine could already have suffered damage.

This is a detailed listing of some of the common signs of an oil filter that has become clogged.

1. Oil Pressure Warning symbol on dashboard

Engine Oil Pressure Light

Your engine will fail to run for many minutes if it isn't lubricated properly. All car models come with an oil pressure warning lamp that will light up on the dashboard when the oil level is low or fatal.

It is important to inspect your car immediately if there are any red oil warning lights on the dashboard. If it does, it could lead to very costly repairs and possibly even the need to have the engine replaced.

The warning light may not appear every time, but it could also indicate low oil pressure due to a clogged or bad oil filter.

Reported: Why your oil pressure light is on: Ten Reasons

2. Low Oil Pressure

You might have an oil pressure gauge on your vehicle that will show you how the engine is performing. It is a sign that your oil pressure has dropped beyond normal.

Low oil pressure can cause engine problems. Continue driving with low oil pressure may cause your engine to fail. Check the oil levels and pull over. The oil level could have been contaminated by a dirty filter or a problem with the pump. 

Related: 4 Signs that Low Oil Pressure is a Problem

3. Noisy Engine

When oil can’t flow around the engine due to a clogged oil filter, the metal components begin to grind together due to an excessive amount of friction. It can cause a noisy engine, and metal-to–metal sound.

Continued metal-to–metal contact will cause engine wear. If it is not addressed, engine damage can occur, which will cost a lot to repair. 

4. High Oil Pressure

High oil pressure can also be caused by a clogged oil filter if an oil pressure sensor measures the oil pressure prior to the filter.

While high oil pressure may not be as harmful as low oil pressure in an engine, it can cause leakage of oil gaskets. A bad oil filter could be the reason for oil leakage from your engine.

Many car models also have an oil pressure warning indicator light that will indicate excessive oil pressure.

RELATED: High Oil Pressure Causes & Symptoms

5. Engine stalling

A lot of modern automobiles have an oil pressure sensor that can shut off your engine in the event you run out of oil.

It is a good idea for you to inspect the oil filter if your engine has stalled or you notice the oil pressure warning lights when you try to start it again.

RELATED: 10 Best Oil Filters – Review & Buyer’s Guide

Oil filter location

Remove Oil Filter

Your vehicle makes a difference in the location of your oil filter. Some cars have an oil filter located underneath. To access the oil filter, it may be necessary to take off the skid plate or splash shield. 

You can reach the oil filter on other vehicles by reaching it from higher up. If you aren’t sure, it’s best to check your owner’s manual for a diagram. 

There are many options for oil filters. You might find an oil filter in your vehicle that can be replaced with a housing made of plastic or a metal screw-on container. 

An Oil Filter's Function

The car’s oil filter is responsible for filtering out contaminants and keeping the oil flowing properly. All contaminants and metals that might be able to get into the engine oil are captured by the clean oil filter. The particles can get in the engine, causing damage. With the correct oil filter the engine will last longer and stay cleaner.

Oil filter serves another purpose: it keeps oil in the right place. The tapping plate allows oil to enter and move through the filter. It appears like a large hole, with many smaller ones surrounding it. Motor oil flows through these smaller holes and then returns to the central hole. Contaminants are caught in the oil as it passes through the filter media. 

When the motor isn’t running, the anti-drain back valve ensures oil doesn’t seep into the filter from the engine. A relief valve might be present, which lets oil seep into the engine when it is low or needs extra boost. These vital components ensure that the oil flows as it should, unless there is an obstruction in the filter. 

Replacing an oil filter that is clogged costs money

They are one of the most affordable parts in your car, costing between $10-20. It makes perfect sense to make sure that you replace your oil filters regularly due to their low price.

You can change your oil filter yourself at home. You might need to pay $30 to $75 to have your oil changed and a filter changed by a professional. A synthetic oil/filter change will cost you $60 to $125. 

You should replace your oil filter as soon as you notice any problems. This will save money. Replace the filter with every oil change, even if you aren’t noticing any problems. It is a simple step that could prevent your engine from suffering severe damage.

FAQ on Oil Filter

Is a blocked oil filter able to cause idle problems?

Low oil pressure can indicate that hydraulic valves and camshaft tensioners may not be working well. An oil filter blockage is the most common indication of an engine that's noisy.

What can cause an oil filter to become clogged and make a vehicle not start?

A clogged oil filter may cause issues with camshaft timing and hydraulic valves. This can lead to problems starting. Low oil pressure can also cause your engine to seize if you drive too far.

How frequently should the oil filter be changed?

Every oil change should include a replacement of the oil filter. The oil filter should be changed depending on which car you have. Check your car’s service manual for the correct service schedule.

How does a bad oil filtrate affect the performance of your vehicle?

Bad oil filters can affect the timing of your hydraulic valve or camshaft timing, leading to poor performance. In this instance, however, you'll most likely also see the check engine light.

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