You may be aware that you should change key engine fluids regularly, but unless you’re a gearhead you might know nothing about maintenance details. If you’re clueless about the ins and outs and find yourself wondering, “What does an oil filter do?”, then here’s a brief look at this important component, along with why it’s a good idea to replace yours this fall.
What Is an Oil Filter?
As your car’s oil burns, it leaves behind toxins, ash, moisture, and something called “sludge,” which is the gooey stuff sometimes found under your oil cap. If allowed to circulate in your oil, these harmful byproducts could seriously damage your engine parts. The oil filter prevents this by trapping and holding these substances, so replacing yours on schedule is critical to prevent issues.
Signs of a Failing Filter
Your vehicle has a recommended replacement schedule for your oil filter, but you should also watch for signs that yours is ready to be swapped out earlier. Pay attention if your check engine light comes on, or if you’re car is running rough or stalling out. While failure to start can have multiple causes, it may also be a sign of a failing filter. A change for the worse in fuel economy is another sign. Address any issues quickly, but also make it a habit to follow your ride’s prescribed schedule for filter changes so you can head these problems off before they ruin your day.
Extreme cold weather can overtax your oil filter. It’s also the worst time of year to be stranded in your vehicle because it won’t start due to filter issues. That’s why fall is the ideal time to change yours, ahead of the harsh winter months.
It’s also wise to get auto maintenance tasks out of the way while the weather is still comfortable. Dealing with tasks like changing your oil and oil filter in the midst of a nasty storm is no fun, especially when you realize you should have tackled the project when you had the chance.
What Oil Filter Should You Use
Oil filters aren’t identical in every vehicle. Whether you need to find filters for car, truck, or van models, check your owner’s manual for which size yours takes. Alternately, the top online retailers will also have search options where you can enter your year, make, model, and engine type to identify which filter you should use. Some even let you type in your VIN to pull up the parts required for your specific set of wheels, and this is a convenient way to identify virtually any car component.
Now that you’re an expert and understand the importance of your oil filter, it’s time to plan for replacing yours. Visit a trusted retailer’s website to find the right filter for your vehicle, and to get tips to make changing your oil and filter a breeze. Taking care of this little project in the fall will give you extra peace of mind as you drive during winter.