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How Does the Oil Filter Work?

As the name implies – the Oil Filter, well it filters oil! We can’t think of a single component that costs so little but whose importance is off the charts. (maybe Spark Plugs but that’s for another day.)

The filter’s job is to remove all impurities, dirt and debris from your engine oil. If little bits of hard substances get into the oil, then they can rub up and down against the engine’s vital components and wearing them out much faster.

Over time, as the filter does its job, it attracts more dust and dirt this can lead to it becoming clogged. if the filter becomes too blocked up to do its job properly, then dirty oil will continue to circulate around your car’s engine which will lead to reduced oil pressure and the risk of impurities having a drastic effect on your car’s internal workings. It is therefore extremely important that you change your oil and oil filter on a regular basis.

Consult your owner’s manual for a guide as to how often you should change your oil filter as it will vary depending on the make, model of your vehicle as well as the type of oil used. It is recommended that the filter be changed each time the oil is swapped out.

What’s Inside?

Viewed from the outside, oil filters look pretty simple, one would expect to see something similar to the filters that have on our water supply at home. However, they are pretty complicated little devices. Oil is pumped from the oil pan through the filter and them up to the rest of the engine, inside the filter there are mechanisms that prevent dirty (unfiltered) oil from getting into the engine.

Tapping plate/gasket: This is where oil enters and exits the oil filter. It is comprised of a center hole surrounded by smaller holes. Oil enters through the small holes on the outskirts of the tapping plate, also known as a gasket, and exits through the center hole, which is threaded to attach the part to your engine.

Anti-drain-back valve: This is a flap that prevents oil from seeping back into the oil filter from the engine when your vehicle is not running, making sure that no unfiltered oil makes its way to where it shouldn’t.

Filter medium: This is the actual filter part of your oil filter – a sheet made of fibers that acts as a sieve to catch contaminants before the oil reaches the engine. This medium is pleated, or folded, for greatest efficacy.

Relief valve: When the engine is cold it still requires oil. At low temperatures most types of oil are too thick to pass through the filter medium. The relief valve allows small amount of unfiltered oil into the engine to meet lubrication needs until the oil has heated (and thinned) enough to pass through the oil filter.

Ready To Replace Your Filter?

Need help picking the right filter for your car? Our mechanically trained experts are ready to help you every step of the way.
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