If you’re a car owner, you know you need to get an oil change on a regular basis.
But were you aware that your oil filter needs a regular change too?
If so, how often should you change your oil filter, and how much does it cost?
In this article, we’ll tell you how often to change oil filters, and answer some related FAQs.
This Article Contains
- How Often Should I Change My Oil Filter?
- 5 Oil Filter FAQs
How Often Should I Change My Oil Filter?
The easiest way to determine how often to change your oil filter (or fuel filter) is to track your oil change frequency.
A lot of car manufacturers include this data in their vehicle’s owner’s manual. You should usually replace your oil filter every second time you get your vehicle’s oil changed.
So, that means if you’re on a 3,000-mile oil change cycle, you’ll have to replace your filter every 6,000 miles.
However, remember that it’s best to consult your mechanic or a professional to know how often to change the oil filter.
Now, while that’s a quick gauge for an oil filter change, there are other factors that play a role in determining your oil filter replacement frequency.
Let’s check out what these influencers are:
1. Vehicle’s Age
Most newer car owners can follow the recommended oil change interval specified by their car manufacturer, which is around 5,000 – 6,000 miles. That means you can go for an oil filter replacement when you hit 10,000 or 12,000 miles.
The good news is, several newer vehicle models have a built-in maintenance reminder. So if calculating miles or remembering a schedule seems like too much work, you can simply rely on the oil life monitor.
If your car has an oil life monitoring system, you’ll find it on your instrument panel settings or under the vehicle maintenance or service menu available on your touchscreen display.
If you have an older vehicle, you may not have an oil life monitoring system. But you can do an easy visual check of your oil level and verify if you have clean oil each month with a dipstick.
A dipstick is an instrument used to check if the engine oil or motor oil hits the recommended oil level.
Is the vehicle’s oil mark too low?
Then it’s time to refill.
However, if the oil’s color seems too dark, that’s an indication that your car has dirty, old oil, and you should go for an oil change and oil filter change.
2. Driving Condition Or Driving Habits
Your driving habits also influence the oil filter replacement and oil change frequency.
If you often drive in harsh road and weather conditions or have an aggressive driving style, you may need to go to an auto repair shop several times for different reasons.
This includes replacing your oil filter much sooner than you’d expect — meaning your oil change interval also decreases.
That’s because the vehicle and engine work harder in extreme temperatures and harsh road conditions. You can check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for other severe driving conditions given to you by your car manufacturer. It’ll help you see if your driving condition or style is harmful to your car.
Here are some driving conditions that’ll increase oil filter and oil change frequency:
- Frequent short trips (less than 10 miles)
- Heavy towing, like a trailer, for long distances
- Stop-and-go driving in severe conditions like bad weather
- Driving regularly on rough, uneven, or dusty roads
- Track driving
Try avoiding these situations to extend the life of your engine oil filter, to prevent excessive engine wear. And leave the heavy towing for towing services if you want to dodge frequent oil changes.
Note: If you have an older vehicle, you should be even more careful about the driving condition of the roads.
3. Oil Used (Synthetic Oil Or Conventional Oil)
Another aspect that influences how often you should change your oil filter is the kind of oil you use. You may be using regular oil (conventional oil), synthetic oil, or a blend of the two.
Synthetic oil is better because it lasts longer and has better performance than conventional oil. If you have a newer vehicle, chances are you already use synthetic oil. However, if you own an older vehicle that consumes regular oil, you can always switch to synthetic motor oil.
Now that you know how often to change oil filters, let’s answer some common oil filter-related questions.
5 Oil Filter FAQs
Here are some car oil filter-related questions that you may have. Let’s answer them to help you better understand your oil filter.
1. How Much Does An Oil Filter Replacement Cost?
A regular oil filter replacement costs anywhere between $20 to $125 at an automobile shop.
This replacement cost will consist of three different charges, including the price of:
- Engine oil (varies depending on the car’s oil type, such as synthetic motor oil or regular oil)
- A new oil filter (fuel filter)
- The auto shop labor cost
- Additional service costs if your mechanic spots other problems like engine wear, damaged oil pan, etc.
Note: Do check your vehicle’s owner’s manual provided by your car manufacturer before going for an oil filter replacement to find out the recommended replacement time. It’ll prevent you from paying for an oil filter replacement that wasn’t needed.
2. What Does An Oil Filter Change Include?
When you go to an auto service center or repair shop for an oil filter replacement, the oil filter, and engine oil need to be replaced together.
It’s not always the case, however.
If the fuel filter is in good condition, you can just add clean engine oil. But you can’t change the engine oil entirely if your oil filter is old.
Changing the old oil with clean engine oil but not changing the fuel filter is a wasted effort. Once the new oil travels through the used fuel filter, your clean oil comes out dirty, looking like old oil.
That’s why your mechanic will first drain out your old oil by removing the drain plug (the drain plug is typically located on the oil pan). After draining your car’s oil, the mechanic will then replace your old fuel filter too.
Note: If you go to a dealership or auto repair shop, they may carry out additional services apart from changing your car’s oil and fuel filter like tire rotation, car wash, topping off fluids, etc. This can add to your total repair costs.
3. Why Does My Oil Filter Need Regular Replacement?
Your engine oil filter will gradually become clogged over time since it traps tons of contaminants like metal particles, grime, and carbon dust. Replacing the oil filter extends the engine life and keeps the motor oil clean.
A clogged engine oil filter will decrease the amount of clean oil passing through it, and as a result, you’ll need an oil filter replacement and new oil.
4. How Do I Know When My Oil Filter Needs Replacement?
Unfortunately, there’s no warning light for an oil filter replacement.
Moreover, the oil filter is a sealed metal unit that doesn’t let you visually inspect and find out when it’s time to replace it. (Not everyone has a dipstick handy or knows how to use it to check the oil level.)
However, there are certain symptoms you can keep an eye on to determine a clogged, old oil filter. Here are some of them:
- Lack of engine lubrication
- Engine sputtering
- Metallic sounds coming from your car’s engine
- Unanticipated engine wear and tear
- Internal engine damage
- Lack of oil pressure
- Illuminated service engine light
- Black and dirty exhaust
- Car smells like burning oil
- Oil change indicator or oil pressure warning light comes on (newer cars)
If you spot one or more of these symptoms, contact a mechanic or auto repair shop right away.
Note: If the oil pressure drops, stop driving immediately and call a mechanic or roadside assistance.
5. What Does An Oil Filter Do?
An oil filter in a vehicle maintains motor oil flow and catches contaminants and metal particles to bar them from circulating through the car’s engine.
Without it, dirt and other tiny unwanted bits like metal particles will unobstructedly progress into the engine assembly, which can cause severe damage to the engine due to clogs and other debris. If the damage prevents engine parts from moving, your vehicle won’t move either.
Contaminants can also reduce the oil consumption efficiency of your vehicle.
Note: As a safeguard against a clogged oil filter, newer vehicle’s oil filters have a bypass valve. The bypass valve regulates oil pressure inside the fuel filter. If your car’s oil filter becomes entirely clogged, the bypass valve will open, letting motor oil circulate into your engine.
Clearly, the question of “how often to change oil filter” isn’t as straightforward as it seems. After all, there are tons of factors to consider.
However, it’s still important to change this component along with your regular oil change.
Remember, the oil filter removes grit and grime from your oil, making it an essential part of your car’s engine operations.
The good news is, oil filters are relatively inexpensive, so you can protect your car from engine wear (and expensive damage) in the future.
And whether you want to go for an oil filter replacement, motor oil change, or just need help because you’re unsure when to get the fuel filter replaced, feel free to contact RepairSmith.
Reach out to us and our expert mechanics will come to you!