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Oil Filters

What is an Oil Filter and How Do They Work?

An oil filter is a part of your engine's lubrication system that consists of a filter designed to remove contaminants from the engine oil. Your Engine Oil Filter removes the suspended impurities from your diesel engine’s oil. The lube oil contaminants are a by-product of your internal combustion engine and normal wear and tear from the use of the engine. Your oil filter's primary job is to remove contaminants so that clean engine oil can be directed to the engine's vital moving components.

Why is clean motor oil so important?

Clean motor oil is essential because if the oil were left unfiltered for some time, it could become saturated with tiny, hard particles that can wear surfaces in your engine.

How does an oil filter work?

The outside of the filter is a metal can with a sealing gasket which provides a leak-proof seal against the mating surface on your engine.  The base plate of the can holds the gasket and is perforated with holes around the area just inside the gasket. A central hole is threaded to mate with the oil filter assembly on the engine block. Inside the can is the filter material, most frequently made from synthetic fiber. The engine’s oil pump moves the oil directly to the filter, where it enters from the holes in the perimeter of the base plate. The dirty oil is passed (pushed under pressure) through the filter media and back through the central hole, where it re-enters the engine.

Choosing the right oil filter 

Choosing the correct oil filter for your vehicle is of the utmost importance. Most oil filters look very similar, but slight differences in the threads or gasket size can determine whether or not a particular filter will work on your vehicle. The best way to determine which oil filter you need is by consulting your owner’s manual or by referencing a parts catalog. Using the wrong filter can cause oil to leak out of the engine, or an ill-fitting filter could just fall off. Either of these situations could lead to severe engine damage.

Oil Filters Contain Four Primary Types Of Filtration Media

Cellulose Filter Media is used in the least expensive types of oil filters. This filtration media comprises wood pulp with large fibers, and it provides varying pore size and less efficient filtration. Cellulose filter media is the least expensive type of oil filter media, and it can't capture the smallest oil contaminants. This media can capture particles 8 to 10 microns in size and clean up to 40% of the motor oil. This type of oil filter will lead to shorter oil change intervals in the 3000-mile range. Cellulose media does offer the advantage that it can absorb some water contamination. However, these media types tend to fail more rapidly than synthetic media in acidic and harsh oil conditions.


Synthetic Filter Media - Is comprised of smaller, man-made glass fibers with a much improved and far more consistent pore size. Higher quality oil filters use this synthetic media, which effectively removes 30 Microns at 100% efficiency and 10 microns at 60% efficiency. A significant benefit is the nearly 50% reduction of filter restriction during cold starts. These oil filters require a replacement interval in the 5,000 to the 7,000-mile range. The Oil Filters that use Synthetic filter media are preferred is their more consistent porosity and smaller fiber size, which provides higher dirt-holding capacity and longevity of the filter.

Microglass filter media: Most high-end oil filters include extremely fine metal media or micro glass. This micro-glass mesh is made with fibers that are ten times finer than cellulose fibers. Microglass Filter Media also provides a low restriction rate to motor oil flow during cold weather operations. These filters also offer extended filter change intervals in the 7,500 to 10,000 miles range.

Composite Filter Media combines at least two types of filtration media for the longest lasting and best filtration results possible. The oil filters are comprised of a combination of filter media materials. These oil filters are more expensive but offer a multitude of benefits. Composite filters will remove the larger particles upon engine start-up for immediate protection and the smaller, fine particles to prevent long-term engine wear. Increased Engine Protection, These filters also offer the most extended filter change intervals up to the 100,000 miles range.


Cellulose media are advantageous because they can absorb some water contamination. However, these media types tend to fail more rapidly than synthetic media in acidic and harsh oil conditions. Nevertheless, the primary reason synthetic filter media are preferred is their more consistent porosity and smaller fiber size, contributing to higher dirt-holding capacity and longevity of the filter.

When it comes to Oil Filters and Oil Filtration  - You get what you pay for

Generally speaking, the more money you spend, the better the filter is. The lower-cost oil filters can contain light-gauge metal in the filter body, interval passages, the mounting flange, loose filtration material, and lower quality gaskets that can lead to failure of the filter. Some filters may filter out smaller bits of dirt a little better, and some may last longer. So, you should research each filter's features that fit your vehicle to determine which one best fits your needs. A Wise Man Once Said If You Have A Five Dollar Head, You Buy A Five Dollar Helmet! This logic also applies to the oil filter you purchase.

WHAT ARE THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF EXTENDED SERVICE INTERVALS

The effect of dirty oil has many adverse effects on your engine and its expected lifespan. Please note that the operating conditions you subject your engine to will harm your change intervals. 

Wear

Internal Engine Wear is a direct cause related to Dirty Engine Oil, which was not charged regularly. That is allowed to remain in an engine past its recommended change period breaks down. As the oil breaks down, it loses its ability to properly lubricate the moving parts of the engine and increases wear rates of the engine oil pump, machined components. And damage the bearing surfaces in the engine. As the engine oil breaks down further, the wear occurs even faster, significantly shortening the engine's overall life. This issue can easily be fixed by using the correct engine oil and a high-grade premium oil filter.

Corrosion

Another issue caused by poor maintenance practices is corrosion from oil degradation. As oil breaks down, the chemicals contained within engine oil react with oxygen and heat, forming acids and corrosive compounds. These compounds react with the metals inside the engine and cause increased wear. These compounds also create sludge and varnish buildup on internal engine parts and interfere with critical clearances between internal moving parts. This leads to increased oil consumption, sticking valves, and seized pistons.

Clogs

The oil that is not changed frequently breaks down and leaves carbon deposits and sludge that can clog the oil pump pickup screen and oil passageways, which will cause the oil pressure to drop, and less oil to be supplied to the engine. This can lead to engine damage if buildup becomes thick enough to choke off oil flow to the engine. 

Decreased Engine Performance

Carbon deposits created from oil breakdown can clog the Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) valve, the Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) valve and lead to the engine running roughly and hotter. This accelerates the rate of wear on internal moving parts and increases exhaust emissions. This can also lead to the engine performing sluggishly and a decrease in overall engine power.

Thermal Breakdown

Motor oil experiences “Thermal Breakdown," which is the process where the engine's heat weakens the viscosity or thickness of the oil. Engine oil that is past its serviceable life cannot maintain an adequate viscosity and continues to degrade. The oil can no longer appropriately cushion the internal moving parts of the engine. As the wear increases and the oil thins further, it slips past seals and rings and gets burned in the combustion chamber, leading to smoke coming from the exhaust and increased oil consumption.

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