8 Signs of a Clogged Oil Filter & Replacement Cost

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bad oil filter symptoms

An oil filter is a device that removes contaminants from engine oil, transmission oil, lubricating oil, or hydraulic oil. Oil filters are used in many different applications, including automobiles, trucks, construction equipment, motorcycles, and marine engines.

Symptoms of a clogged filter can include decreased fuel economy, loss of power, metallic noise from the engine, and eventually total engine failure.

In this article, we will discuss the location and function of the engine oil filter as well as eight common symptoms of a clogged oil filter.

What is the Function of an Oil Filter?

An oil filter is designed to remove contaminants like dirt, metal particles, and carbon deposits from your vehicle’s engine oil. It keeps contaminants from entering the engine, protecting its components and allowing for efficient operation.

The oil filter works to collect dirt and debris that can damage engine parts if it circulates through them. The filter is responsible for removing these harmful particles before they cause any issues with your vehicle’s performance or function.

The most common type of oil filter is the spin-on cartridge type. They are made up of a cylindrical body with threads that can be screwed onto the engine block. A filter element is contained inside a cartridge surrounded by a metal canister. The oil pump forces the motor oil through the filter element, where contaminants are trapped and removed from the oil.

When you change the motor oil of your car regularly at the recommended intervals by manufacturers, it helps prevent these types of problems from occurring because new fresh, clean oil will not have any debris in it that could potentially clog up any parts of the engine like valves or piston rings which are used to compress air into smaller spaces during combustion cycles.

Where is Oil Filter Located?

The oil filter is usually located in the engine bay, typically on the side of the block or mounted to the bracket near the oil pan. It could also be found inside a compartment under one of your passenger seats. If you’re having trouble finding it, check with an auto repair shop for help tracking down its location and removing it from your car.

The oil filter is located in the oil filter housing. It looks like a cylinder, with one end larger than the other. They are usually held in place by a metal band or bracket and can be easy to remove if you have an oil filter wrench kit.

The oil filter connects to a cartridge that holds the filter element inside it. A metal canister of the oil system surrounds the cartridge and contains a spring-loaded valve at one end. The other end of the canister seals against an O-ring on the engine block, creating a pressure seal around it. An oil filter is usually located close to the oil pump.

Bad Oil Filter Symptoms

Now that we’ve discussed the location and function of an oil filter, let’s take a look at the eight most common symptoms of a clogged oil filter.

  1. Low Oil Pressure
  2. Engine Overheating
  3. Oil Leaks
  4. High Fuel Consumption
  5. Poor Engine Performance
  6. Sputtering Engine
  7. Audible Metallic Sounds
  8. Dark Exhaust Smokes

Let us take a look at these symptoms in detail:

1. Low Oil Pressure:

Low oil pressure is often the first sign of something wrong with your oil filter. When the filter becomes clogged, it can’t do its job of removing contaminants from the oil, which causes the oil pressure to decrease. This can lead to engine damage if left unchecked.

If you notice a sudden drop in oil pressure on the oil pressure gauge, it’s a good idea to check the oil level and change the filter as soon as possible. You can also have your car checked by a mechanic to see if anything else is wrong with it.

If reading on the oil pressure gauge is low, it is time to regulate oil pressure.

2. Engine Overheating:

Another symptom of a clogged oil filter is engine overheating. When the filter becomes clogged, it can’t remove contaminants from the oil, which causes the oil to heat up and eventually overheat your engine. This can lead to serious damage if not addressed quickly.

If you notice that your engine is overheating or if it has been running hot for some time now, have a mechanic check the filter and change it as soon as possible. You can also have them look at other things like coolant levels and radiator hoses to make sure everything else is working properly before driving again.

3. Oil Leaks:

A clogged oil filter may cause leaks in your car that are hard to detect. A leaking filter won’t necessarily leak onto the ground where you’ll see it; instead, they tend to leak into other parts of your engine and make their way out through small cracks or holes there.

This is why it’s important to pay attention when checking the oil level and changing filters regularly. If there are any signs of a leak, have your car checked by a mechanic for sufficient oil pressure.

Many things besides clogged oil filters can cause an oil leak, but if you notice that this symptom has just started occurring suddenly, it is a good indication that the filter might be to blame.

If you are experiencing an oil leak, have your car serviced as soon as possible. Continuing to drive with a leaking oil filter can cause extensive engine damage.

4. High Fuel Consumption:

A clogged oil filter can also lead to high fuel consumption. When the filter becomes clogged, it can’t remove all of the contaminants from the oil, which causes the motor oil to become dirty and gunked up. This can cause the engine to work harder than it should and increase fuel consumption.

High fuel consumption is another sign that an oil filter should be changed as soon as possible. If you’ve noticed that your fuel consumption has been higher than normal, it might be time to change the oil filter. You can also have a mechanic check out the rest of your engine to see if anything else is wrong.

5. Poor Engine Performance:

A clogged oil filter causes poor engine performance, especially when under load. For example, an excessively dirty or obstructed oil filter will prevent the engine from maintaining its idle speed. As the oil pressure will be low as well.

Clogged oil filters can also reduce engine power and accelerate wear on moving parts. A restricted filter may also prevent the engine from starting or cause it to stall while the car is being driven.

Check the filter for damage and dirt. Replace if necessary. If multiple clogs are present, it is recommended that you change the filter more frequently to prevent future issues. Oil analysis may also be beneficial to prevent wear or other problems before they start.

6. Sputtering Engine:

Whenever a vehicle’s engine sputters or sounds like it is running out of gas, it may be time to change the engine oil and filter. Although some people might complain of a lack of power, check engine lights, or reduced mileage, many more symptoms indicate the need for an oil change. Engine sputtering is one of those symptoms.

A clogged oil filter reduces the flow of engine oil to critical engine components, which can cause an increase in friction and heat. The extreme heat may result in serious engine damage.

7. Audible Metallic Sounds

If the motor oil filter of your car is clogged, you might hear audible metallic noises coming out of the engine. This is caused by the lack of oil going through the engine and therefore not lubricating it. The grinding noise comes from two pistons and some metal components hitting each other as they cannot move without proper lubrication.

Combined with a lack of oil pressure and too high RPM, the cylinders will wear away. This is also more likely to happen if you do not change your engine’s oil often enough or use a bad-quality filter. Always check your oil and filters and ask the shop what filter they recommend for your car! You can find cheap solutions.

8. Dark Exhaust Smokes:

If your oil filter is clogged, it will send the exhaust gases back to the engine. If you have a clogged oil filter, your vehicle will produce dark exhaust smokes.

The smoke coming out will be soot dark and very noticeable while the engine runs for some time.

The oil filter clogging is caused by lack of or no engine maintenance, such as changing the oil regularly. When the small amount of carbon residue in your oil change does not get burned off, it will build up and cause your engine to overheat.

The dark exhaust smokes must be diagnosed and corrected by a professional mechanic trained and equipped to remove any carbon build-up or other miscellaneous engine problems. They can use their expertise and equipment to diagnose the car’s problem and make necessary repairs.

Oil Filter Replacement Cost

The replacement cost of a new filter for most cars lies between $15 to $30. The labor cost also depends on the shop you choose and will vary from region to region, with parts being about half that price.

The cost of replacing an oil filter can vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle. It is important to replace your oil filter at the recommended intervals to help protect your engine from wear and tear.

If you are looking for an affordable option for replacing your oil filter, consider using an aftermarket brand. Many quality options are available that can help save you money in the long run. However, be sure to consult with your mechanic before installing an aftermarket part to ensure that it will fit properly and not cause any future problems.

When replacing an oil filter, you should always take care of the old one as well. Be sure to dispose of the old filter properly and recycle it whenever possible.


A clogged oil filter is a common issue resulting in engine overheating and other problems. Clogged oil filters can lead to engine damage that costs thousands of dollars in repairs.

The symptoms are poor gas mileage, smoking exhausts, rough idling or stalling at intersections, and low oil pressure. If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, it may be time to change your oil filter.

In a nutshell, if you don’t change your oil filter when it’s supposed to be replaced, then you’re asking for trouble. Not only will your engine run poorly and consume more fuel than necessary as a result, but there is also an increased risk of catastrophic damage occurring – meaning a complete rebuild or replacement of the engine may be necessary. It’s always better to play it safe and stick to the owner’s manual.

It’s important to keep your car running smoothly by topping it up with clean motor oil. It’s also important for you to know how to change your oil filter so you can save money on labor costs. Always consult with a professional mechanic if you are not sure how to proceed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you use the wrong type of oil filter?

If you use the wrong filter in your vehicle, it may not remove enough contaminants from the engine oil. The result will be premature wear on internal engine components or even damage to them. This could lead to avoidable expensive repairs down the line if you replace them with correct filters every time!

Can a dirty oil filter cause a check engine light?

Yes, a dirty oil filter could cause the check engine light to come on. The oil filter is designed to remove contaminants from your engine’s lubricating fluid before it enters into contact with critical components such as bearings or cylinders; if these are not cleaned out regularly enough, they will clog up and stop working which means an expensive repair bill.

What causes oil filter failure?

A few things can cause an oil filter to fail, but the most common is when it becomes clogged with contaminants. This restricts the flow of oil through the filter and leads to the damage being inflicted on engine components as a result.

Another reason for oil filter failure could be incorrect installation or use – for example, using an oil filter that is too small for your engine (this will not provide enough filtration capacity) or using an oil filter that has been damaged during its storage life before installation.

What happens if you drive with a bad oil filter?

If you drive with a bad oil filter, the contaminants that are supposed to be filtered out will end up in the engine oil. This will cause excessive wear and tear on the internal components as they try to operate in an environment full of debris.

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