Symptoms of a clogged oil filter (Easy 5 Check Points!)

symptoms of a clogged oil filter

What are the symptoms of a clogged oil filter?

An oil filter is an important component of the engine. The engine requires oil for it to run properly. 

Engine oil provides lubrication to the internal moving parts of an engine and also protects it from pollution and contamination. 

However, over time, the engine oil also accumulates contaminating particles, which can wear the engine. 

This is where the oil filter comes in. The oil filter is a filtering mechanism in the engine through which the engine oil moves, and is rid of all pollutants. Since the oil filter removes the pollutants from the oil, after a certain amount of time, the filter too, gets clogged with dirt and grit and thus needs to be changed from time to time. 

It is recommended that the oil filter is changed with every oil change or at least, at every alternate oil change. If it is not changed, then it becomes clogged, which can be very dangerous for the engine. Here are some symptoms of a clogged oil filter:

symptoms of a clogged oil filter

Unsatisfactory performance of engine

Unsatisfactory performance

A general decline in the car’s performance can be due to a number of problems, out of which a clogged oil filter is a likely one. If you notice your vehicle has been performing unsatisfactorily and cannot pinpoint any obvious specific cause for the same, you should take a look at the oil filter

A clogged oil filter will make the engine lag and thus you will notice a decline in how the car picks up speed or accelerates. However, this is not a sure fire symptom, since the car performance is affected by a number of components. 

Sputtering in car engine

Sputtering engine

The oil filter, filters the engine oil and then releases it back into the engine so that it can lubricate the inside of it. However, a clogged oil filter will not be able to release oil efficiently back into the engine. This means that oil will not be able to circulate properly inside the engine, which in turn will cause the engine parts to suffer. 

If you notice your engine sputtering, especially when accelerating or moving at high speeds, then it could be because of a clogged oil filter and it should be checked immediately to avoid more damage. 

Metallic noises coming from car

Metallic noises

One of the main jobs of the engine oil is to lubricate the moving parts and reduce friction inside. If the oil filter is clogged, it will not be able to release oil properly into the engine. 

Since oil is not being circulated in the engine, it will not be able to lubricate well. Thus, there will be more friction between the moving parts inside the engine, which will then cause metallic noises. This noise will mostly be a grinding sound and if you hear it, you should stop the car right away, since driving while the parts are grinding will cause heavy engine damage. 

Reduced oil pressure

Reduced oil pressure

Every car has an oil pressure gauge that shows the oil pressure in the engine. The ideal levels on this gauge are different for different models, and are explained in the owner’s manual. 

Clogged filters cannot circulate oil efficiently in the engine and thus, can lead to low oil pressure in the engine. If you notice the oil pressure guage drop, then it is most likely due to a cloged filter, or some serious leak. In this case, you should stop the car right away and take it to a mechanic shop to get it looked at. 

Dirty exhaust of car

Dirty exhaust

The oil filter can affect the exhaust of your vehicle and that can be a good indicator of the condition of your filter. Ideally, you should not be seeing smoke coming out of the tailpipe, except a little during cold weather. 

However, in normal conditions, this smoke should be whitish in colour. 

However, when your oil filter is clogged, the car might start burning fuel or oil and this will cause black, brown or dirty smoke to be emitted from the exhaust. If you notice this happening, you should take a look at the oil filter, since it will most likely be clogged. 


The oil filter is an important part of the engine, since it keeps the engine oil free of contaminants, thus allowing it to lubricate and protect the engine well. 

Over time, the oil filter can get clogged due to the filtration process and this clogged filter can cause serious issues in the functioning of the engine. 

If you notice metallic grinding noises, dirty exhaust, low oil pressure, sputtering from the engine or if the overall performance of your car is reduced, then these all may be symptoms of a clogged filter. 

In such cases, it is best to take the car to the mechanic shop and get the filter changed right away since driving with a clogged filter can be a safety risk and can also lead to huge engine damage. 

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