When a mechanic changes your oil, he/she will usually also replace your oil filter. This filter is VITAL to your car’s engine. If the filter isn’t replaced, or if it breaks apart in your car, it can destroy your engine.
What is an oil filter?
An oil filter is an engine component that works to remove engine oil contaminants that build up as the oil travels through the car’s internal pathways. This keeps the oil clean so that it can continue to lubricate the engine effectively, without damaging any parts.
How do oil filters work?
Oil filters consist of one of several types of “media”, such as paper that trap particles. Specifically, engine oil is stored in the engines “sump”, which is a large container. As the engine runs, oil is pumped up from the sump and into the engine oil filter. The oil and contaminants are separated, with the clean oil allowed to keep passing through to key engine parts.
Here’s a good video by a Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) chapter:
What filter is right for me?
It all comes down to price and the frequency in which you want to change your oil filter. Newer cars for example, may use synthetic oil that can last up to 10,000 miles. Due to this, they may also use high quality synthetic oil filters that can last as long as the synthetic oil. However, older cars, or those that use conventional oil, may use standard cellulose or paper based oil filters that last about 3,000 miles, about the same amount as the life of conventional oil.
Ultimately, you want to ensure that you are following your cars manual when taking your car to get serviced. Each car is different and therefore, deserves different treatment. Next time you take your car to the mechanic, ask them about the oil filter your car uses. Knowledge is power.