Importance of Oil + Filter Change - Mick's Tips of the Trade

By: Mick McCrudden

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Is it time to change your oil in your car? Let's talk filters...

I had an unusual thing turn up on my workbench recently: an OEM oil filter with a faulty anti-drain back valve. It’s unusual but when you take into account how many are manufactured and changed daily, it’s not unheard of. The consequences in this case were the oil pressure built up – as it had nowhere to go – so it got past the seal and ended up all over the floor!

Rather than being a twoway thing, it was a one way thing and ended up as a mess. That isn’t a problem in a workshop, but if you hadn’t checked and drove off down the road, by the time you got to the end of the street you’d have a blown up engine.

So here’s the moral to the story: when you do an oil and filter change (and you always do the two together!), always run the engine for a minute or so to get the oil circulating, then stop it, put your head underneath and have a look.

If there are no big oil leaks, you should be good to go.

In saying that, the internet has become the world’s biggest enemy as well as the world’s greatest avenue. I can’t stipulate this hard enough, for the person doing their servicing at home (and there’s nothing wrong with that) this is the one area where you don’t spare the pennies. You must buy the best-quality filter you can lay your hands on. So stay with the known brands or OEM (original equipment manufacturer), because the filtration is important. It’s the liver and kidneys of your car.

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Its purpose in life is to catch the contaminants floating in the oil. If it has the wrong filter material, has the wrong anti-drain back or pressure valves, the consequences are just huge. You just need to get used to the idea of spending a whole $20 for an oil filter as opposed to $1.75. In the end, it’s not a saving. The damage it can cause could be many thousands of dollars.

You know the oil filter as we know it today didn’t exist until about 1923. The company that invented it is still around– it’s an American mob called Purolator ( Prior to that, cars didn’t have filters and oil changes were done on a very regular basis.

Even as late as the Holden 48-215, a lot of cars didn’t run oil filters – it was an aftermarket thing, if the car had one.

It’s funny to see some things have gone full circle. The original items tended to be pleated paper cartridges, and the spin-on type we know today didn’t appear until the 1950s. Now were seeing the paper cartridge type making a comeback.

Okay, so as a general principle, stay with OEM and known brands and always change the filter with the oil. It will pay off in the long run.

Mick owns Glenlyon Motors, an expert workshop and car storage facility in Brunswick, Melbourne. Call him on (03) 9380 5082.


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