The oil filter is one of the most important parts of the engine, as it filters out any contaminates created by normal wear and the engine’s heat. When your car has the oil changed, most likely the oil filter is also changed – at least I hope so.
Years ago, we all knew that the oil and filter were changed at 3,000 miles; that was just the way it was. Enter the new age of cars, oils, and filters, especially synthetic oils which last much longer, as stated in some of my previous articles. Many oil changes can last 5,000 to 10,000 miles depending on the type of car, type of oil, and how many quarts of oil are in the oil pan.
Back in the day when we recommended the 3,000-mile service, any oil filter would easily protect the engine for that mileage, but not many oil filters would protect your car for more than 5,000 miles. If you are driving longer than 5,000 miles between oil changes and using a low-cost oil change shop, you may be damaging the engine and not even know it.
Why Does It Matter?
Let me explain. Oil filters all look the same on the outside but are very different on the inside. The difference lies in the amount of filtering material used and the type of drain-back valve used inside each filter. Less expensive filters, as you would suspect, have less filtering material and a less reliable drain back valve.
This may seem insignificant, but the results can be catastrophic. When you drive longer than 5,000 miles on one of the low-cost filters, the filter starts to lose the ability to keep the contaminates contained and they slip into the engine bearings, causing premature wear. The eventual outcome is engine failure. It does not pay to have an inexpensive oil change and an inexpensive oil filter put in your newer model car.
Currently, there is not a standard or law that says what part, or quality of part, needs to be put in your car. If you have an engine failure that should be covered by a warranty, and you have been using cheap oil/filter, this is not only scary for you, the consumer, but it could get downright ugly as the manufacturer may deny the claim. Ultimately, you should be aware of what is going on with the car and use a service center you trust.
A cheap oil change may save you money short term, but it won’t save you money in the long run.
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