Virginia Auto Service

5 Signs it’s Time to Change Your Oil Filter

The oil filter has one main job- remove contaminants from your car’s engine oil that can accumulate over time as the oil keeps your engine clean. Contaminated oil can lead to many vehicle issues. Issues that can have a dramatic impact on, or even destroy the engine.

Clean Motor Oil is Important

If motor oil were left unfiltered for an extended period of time it could become inundated with tiny, hard particles that can wear the oil pump’s machined components and damage the bearing surfaces in the engine.

How the Oil Filter Works

The outer part of the filter is a metal can that has a sealing gasket that allows for it to be tightly held against the engine’s mating surface. The metal can has a base plate that holds the gasket and has holes around the area just inside the gasket. A central hole is threaded to combine the oil filter assembly on the engine block. On the inside of the can is the filter material, which is usually made from synthetic fibers. The oil pump moves the oil directly to the filter through the holes in the base plate. The dirty oil is pushed through the filter and back through the central hole- where it re-enters the engine.

Using the Right Oil Filter

Oil filters will look similar, but there are small differences in the threads and/or gasket sizes which will determine if a particular filter will work for your vehicle. Consult your owner’s manual to determine which oil filter you need for your vehicle. Making sure you use the right filter for your vehicle is important. If the wrong filter is used it can cause oil to leak out of the engine, or if it doesn’t fit properly it could just fall off. Both of these situations would lead to serious engine damage.

Signs That it is Time to Replace Your Oil Filter

Here are five signs that your oil filter may need to be replaced:

Poor Performance

If your oil filter needs replaced, the car will not accelerate as well as it normally would, and the accelerator may feel as though it isn’t working properly. The engine will run, but not as well as it should. Continuing to drive a vehicle like this can damage essential parts of the engine.


A clogged oil filter could cause “sputtering.” In this case, the oil filter will not release oil like it’s supposed too, and your vehicle will not be able to maintain its speed. The sputtering may be soft for a time, gradually worsening. Replacing the filter will remove the sputter.

Metallic Sounds

If the filter is clogged, there will be a lack of oil in the engine causing metal to touch metal as the engine works. If you hear metallic sounds, you should stop driving the vehicle immediately to avoid serious engine damage. Have the oil filter replaced and introduce more oil into the system right away.

Oil Pressure Gauge is Dropping

While you are driving, you can read the oil pressure gauge on the dashboard. A swift drop in the oil pressure is a cause for concern. A pressure change can cause serious problems within the vehicle.

Contaminated Exhaust

If the oil filter is clogged, the exhaust coming out of your car can be black or dirty. You will also likely smell the oil burning as it passes into the exhaust pipe. If this is the case, you need to bring your vehicle in for assistance right away. Our mechanics can replace the oil filter, fix a clog in the oil system and remove any sludge that has made its way into the car.

The filter is very difficult to reach on your own, and you should bring your car in before real damage is done. If you think it is time for an oil filter replacement, Virginia Auto Service is here for you. We are your go-to in Phoenix, AZ for reliable, high-quality auto repair services. Call (602) 266-0200 or schedule an appointment online.