5 Symptoms of a Bad Oil Filter (Clogged, Leaking, or Wrong Type)

The oil filter has the crucial job of filtering the oil that lubricates the components of your engine. As oil circulates through the engine, it picks up contaminants and debris along the way. You’ll want to keep these contaminants out of the engine to preserve its lifespan.

The only way to keep these contaminants from harming engine components is to have an oil filter which can prevent them from entering the engine in the first place. The engine depends on the filter just as much as it depends on the oil itself.

If you had no oil filter in your vehicle, then the contaminants will build up rather quickly inside the engine. This will create a whole lot of functionality issues in the engine and the vehicle.

Related: Best Synthetic Oils for High Mileage Vehicles

Top 5 Bad Oil Filter Symptoms

Most of the time, you’ll want to replace your oil filter at the same time as when an oil change is being done. But sometimes, it’s ok to replace the filter at a slightly longer interval.

However, if you notice certain symptoms occurring in your vehicle, then it will be a sign that you do need to replace your oil filter with a new one. Otherwise, you could risk permanent damage to your engine which will cost thousands of dollars to replace.

Below are five of the most common symptoms of clogged or leaking oil filter in your car. You may even have the wrong type of filter installed which could be causing problems.

As soon as you recognize these signs, get to your local auto parts store to buy a new filter and switch it out or get your vehicle to the nearest auto mechanic or quick lube place so that they can replace the filter for you.

1) Engine Overheating

Like your air filter or fuel filter, your oil filter can clog up if left in there too long. With an oil filter, this could be an even worse problem because it may prevent oil from being able to enter the engine altogether. Once that happens, the engine will not receive any lubrication for its moving components.

As you know, the friction between the metal components will generate heat quickly. If this heat cannot be cooled by the oil, then it could lead to the engine overheating. You will often see the “Check Engine” light come on when this happens.

2) Weak Performance

The performance of your vehicle will tell you more than enough. If contaminants are building up in your engine because the oil isn’t being filtered properly, then it will diminish the engine’s ability to generate power for the vehicle.

This means that when you step on the gas pedal, your acceleration will be reduced or nonexistent. As you continue to let this problem go unfixed, the performance will only get worse.

3) Dirty Exhaust Fumes

Take a look at the exhaust fumes coming out of your vehicle’s tailpipe. Can you see smoke coming out of the tailpipe? If the exhaust looks gray or blue, you have an oil burning issue. This is sometimes the result of a clogged oil filter causing oil to flow into your exhaust system where it burns up.

You may even experience a burning odor inside your vehicle from this too. These are very obvious signs that you need to replace your filter promptly.

Related:  Causes of White Smoke Coming From Your Exhaust

4) Low Oil Pressure

The dashboard of your vehicle should have an oil pressure gauge. In normal situations, the gauge will show a consistent amount of oil pressure that will never change. But if you see the oil pressure dropping erratically as you’re driving, then you definitely have a problem with your oil pressure.

One of the causes of low oil pressure can be a leaking or clogged oil filter which is preventing the flow of oil from going into your engine.

5) Metallic Noises

When oil is prevented from entering your engine and all those metal components grind against each other, all that friction will cause two things to happen. Like previously mentioned, it will cause the engine to overheat.

But it will also cause a lot of metallic noises to occur as a result of the grinding. These noises should be very easy to hear as you’re driving. When this happens, the internal components of your engine are wearing themselves out and causing damage. Check your oil level and filter to make sure one isn’t the culprit.

8 thoughts on “5 Symptoms of a Bad Oil Filter (Clogged, Leaking, or Wrong Type)”

  1. My car is hard started in the morning. After it has started and idled for minute or so, the engine initially fails to pick even if I press the gas pedal. Is this a sign that my oil filter is clogged? Thank you

    • Could be the oil filter, oil, or a variety of other issues. Unfortunately, needs more info. I would suggest scanning for any error codes stored in your car’s computer using a diagnostic tool as the first step in diagnosis.

  2. I’m embarrassed to say but my Kia needed an oil change but I add oil myself. While driving, my car started to making a grinding noise my oil light started flicking off and on and my car shuts off with no smoke but won’t crank up. What can be the problem? Thanks

  3. Could a clogged or old oil filter, cause a car to jerk when taking off and blow a big puff of smoke ? Not ever time. Just after driving 100km for atleast 30km or more

  4. My Honda Odyssey 2000 started to overheat and I noticed that I don’t have to let it set before checking oil dipstick , it isn’t moving up the stick , hopefully it’s a clogged filter from Valvaline Instant Oil Change so I guess trying fram filter before anything else , I have no idea where to get to the oil pump and can’t find anything on line for it ! Wish me luck !

  5. I think you can understand what I stated ? Sorry I have been thinking about this issue 😔 I hope it’s not a oil filter I should have said but praying it’s not a oil pump either


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