How often to change the oil filter? One of the most asked questions, and one of the first to come up in the mind of a newbie car owner. Well, there are many opinions on that matter. However, you should take into account that many of the opinions you hear are formed from personal experiences, and if they are not coming from a licensed professional or the manual of your vehicle, you might as well neglect them.

How often to change oil filter of a car

Each car manufacturer presents information about how often to change oil filters and what oil should be used in their motors. If you don’t have the manual of your car, you can easily find this information on the maker’s website or a forum of other owners. Once you have found it, you should stick to it. You can opt for better quality filters and oils and make the gap between changes a bit bigger, however, it is best advised to stick with the calculations of numerous engineers that spent hours, days even years to design the model and it’s motor and are far more knowledgeable about it than anyone else. Better quality oils (with the same metrics 5w30, 10w40 etc.) will increase the lifetime of an oil filter but pay attention to the official information provided by the manufacturer.

Usually, the mileage you can get from an oil filter is roughly 5 to 8 thousand miles. Some might recommend changing the oil filter every 10,000 miles, but that is a bit too long for most cars. Not so long ago, oil filters and oils were to be changed every 3,000 miles. However, technology has advanced in this direction as well as in any other, and now we don’t have to go through the hassle that often. Newer models have integrated systems to tell you when an oil filter change should be scheduled. Check with the manual of your vehicle to see if such a system is incorporated in the specific model you are driving. There should be a light for it on the dashboard.

Every vehicle has a signaling lamp for the oil, but keep in mind that in most cases it is built in to inform you if you lose oil pressure suddenly, in which case it’s best to stop immediately. So to give an answer to the question “How often to change oil filter?” we can simply say, every 5-8 thousand miles you should schedule an oil filter change and an oil change together.

Factors that can shorten the lifetime of your oil filter:

  • Aggressive driving style;
  • Extensive stop-and-go driving conditions (city);
  • Harsh weather conditions;
  • Driving under heavy loads;
  • Towing;

Example​: If the manufacturer of your vehicle says you should change your oil filter every 5-8 thousand miles, but you are constantly using it to tow or transport heavyweights, it would be best if you concentrate on the 5K mark, not the 8.

Oil filter and oil change

Oil filter and oil change should always be done simultaneously. We have mentioned how back in the day people were changing oil more frequently and that led to some penny pinchers skipping to change oil filter on every other visit for an oil change. This is not recommended! If you change only the oil of your motor, that fresh new lubricant will pass through the old filter and wash all the contaminants in it, getting them back into the engine. This poses some risks and could lead to expensive diagnostics and repairs. There are a lot of moving parts in your engine and the oil is what keeps them well lubricated and the friction limited. Where there is friction, there is heat. And where there is heat, there is wear and tear. It is a prime example of how neglecting simple and cheap maintenance like changing oil filter can lead to far more costly and time-consuming repairs.

Can you change the filter, but not the oil? This is also not recommended. It will just shorten the lifetime of that oil filter and you will end up changing it again soon. If the oil filter is being clogged up with debris it will force the engine to bypass it. This is an option that is integrated into most engines to prevent them from running without oil, which will quickly destroy them. However, if your filter is by-passed because it’s clogged all the contaminants from the oil are now rubbing against the moving parts in your motor, causing wear down and shortening the life of it.

Oil filter and oil change are logically connected. You can’t change the filter without draining most of the oil out, and then you have to top it up once you are done anyway, so why should you just buy an extra can of oil and completely replace it. On the other hand, changing only the oil will require you to remove the filter in order to drain the old oil out. Why wouldn’t you simply change it as well, you already got it out? Nowadays oil filters are not that expensive so you should always do your oil filter and oil change at the same time. It prolongs the time your vehicle is serving you and it will save you money in the long term.