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Q: How Do Oil Filters Get Dirty?

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How do oil filters get dirty?

A: Oil filters have a very important, yet real...

Oil filters have a very important, yet really dirty job to perform. I don’t think even Mike Rowe would want to tackle the dirty job of an oil filter.

Before we talk about the oil filter, let’s talk about the oil.

The purpose of oil in an engine is threefold:

As an engine operates, the friction between its moving parts creates heat which, over time, leads to thermal breakdown of the oil. This, in turn, causes the oil to turn to sludge.

The internal friction also causes wear of the moving parts. These wear particles act like very fine sand paper and can cause accelerated wear of components inside the engine.

The purpose of the oil filter is to remove the sludge, contaminants, and metallic wear particles from the oil so the oil can continue to do its job properly. This is how the oil filter gets so dirty.

If not maintained properly, the filter media inside of an oil filter will become plugged up and the filter will no longer be able to do its job. This will lead to accelerated wear inside the engine and eventually lead to engine failure.

Adhering to the published maintenance schedule for oil and filter changes in the owner’s manual of your vehicle is the single most important thing you can do to ensure that your engine gets a good and long life.

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