You probably know your car needs oil to run smoothly and efficiently. But do you know what keeps your oil clean and free of harmful particles? The small but vital oil filter filters out the dirt, soot, metal debris, and unburned fuel from the engine oil. And what holds the oil filter in place and connects it to the engine? It’s the oil filter housing, a device you may not be aware of but plays a key role in your car’s performance and health. Read on to learn more about the important element right here.
Oil Filter Housing Location And Functions
The oil filter housing location depends on the vehicle model, but it is usually found next to the engine cover, making it easy to access and replace the oil filter when needed. The functions of an oil filter housing are:
- Attach the oil filter to the engine by keeping it safe in one position.
- To allow engine oil to run through the oil filter efficiently and reach vital parts.
- Protect the engine from wear and damage caused by contaminants in the oil.
- Prevent oil loss, engine overheating, poor performance, and damage to other parts due to oil filter housing leaks.
- Enable easy access and replacement of the oil filter when needed.
Components of an Oil Filter Housing
- A metal or plastic body that encloses the oil filter and connects it to the engine.
- A gasket that seals the oil filter housing against oil leaks.
- A mounting bracket that attaches the oil filter housing to the engine.
- A nut on the top that you can remove with a socket wrench to expose the old filter cartridge inside.
- A coolant hose that connects the oil filter housing to the heat exchanger (cooler) if equipped.
- An oil temperature and oil pressure sensor to monitor the oil condition and send signals to the engine control unit (ECU)
Common Oil Filter Housing Issues
- Leakages: This is when oil escapes from the oil filter housing due to a loose or damaged gasket, a faulty oil filter, or excessive oil pressure. This can cause oil loss, engine overheating, poor performance, and damage to other parts.
- Cracks: Occurs when the oil filter housing develops a crack or warp due to age, wear and tear, or over-torquing of the housing. It results in oil leakage and engine problems.
- Puncture: When the oil filter housing is punctured by a rock, stone, or road debris that damages the outer shell of the housing. That can lead to a sudden loss of oil pressure and require immediate attention.
How to Identify a Leaking Oil Filter Housing
- Check the Engine Oil Light: If it comes on, it may indicate that the oil level or pressure is low due to a leak from the oil filter housing gasket or other parts.
- Check for oil dripping from the filter: If you notice oil dripping from the filter or a puddle of oil underneath the car, it may mean that the oil filter housing gasket is damaged or loose.
- Examine the oil pressure gauge: If the oil pressure gauge shows lower than normal readings, it may mean that the oil filter housing gasket is leaking and causing a loss of oil pressure in the engine.
- Check along the engine block for leaks: Oil leaking from the housing can stain down the engine and make it look like a valve gasket leak, but it could be the oil filter housing leaking.
Consequences of Oil Filter Housing Leak
Engine oil loss
A leaking oil filter housing can cause the engine oil to escape and reduce the oil level in the engine. This can affect the engine components’ lubrication and cooling, increasing friction and heat.
A leaking oil filter housing can also cause the engine to overheat due to the loss of oil and its cooling effect. Overheating can damage the engine parts and cause performance issues or even engine failure.
A leaking oil filter housing can affect the engine’s performance by reducing the oil pressure and causing the warning light to come on. This can indicate that the engine is not getting enough oil or is contaminated by dirt or debris.
Damage to other parts
A leaking oil filter housing can also cause damage to other parts of the vehicle by dripping oil on them or creating a fire hazard. For example, oil leaking from the housing can stain the engine block, damage the belts or hoses, or ignite if it comes in contact with a hot exhaust manifold.
Fixing an Oil Filter Housing Leak
- Check the oil level and top up as needed. A low oil level can indicate a leak from the oil filter housing or other parts.
- Locate the oil filter housing on the engine and inspect it for signs of leakage. The oil filter housing is usually next to the engine cover and has a nut on the top that can be removed with a socket wrench.
- Remove the nut and the old oil filter from the housing and check the condition of the gasket. The gasket is a rubber seal that prevents oil from leaking out of the housing.
- If the gasket is damaged, loose, or stuck to the old filter, replace it with a new one. Clean the housing mating surface and smear a thin layer of oil on the new gasket before installing it.
- If the housing is cracked, warped, or punctured, replace it with a new one. Make sure to transfer any sensors or hoses from the old housing to the new one.
- Install the new oil filter and tighten the nut according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Do not overtighten or under-tighten the nut, as this can cause leaks or damage.
- Start the engine and look for leaks from the oil filter housing. If there are no leaks, check the oil level again and adjust as needed.
Can Coolant Leak From The Oil Filter Housing
Yes, coolant can leak from the oil filter housing in some cases. This can happen if the oil filter housing has a coolant hose that connects it to the heat exchanger (cooler) or if the oil filter housing has a coolant o-ring seal that could suffer damage when the oil filter housing rotates when removing or installing the oil filter. The recommended procedure to avoid coolant leakage is to hold the filter housing when tightening or loosening the oil filter. Coolant leaks from the oil filter housing can cause engine overheating, loss, and mixing of oil and coolant.
Can Oil Filter Housing Gasket Cause Smoke
Yes, an oil filter housing gasket can cause smoke in some cases. This can happen if the oil filter housing gasket leaks oil and drips into a hot part of the engine, such as the exhaust manifold or the turbocharger. The oil can then burn and create smoke that can be seen from the tailpipe or under the hood. This can also create a burning oil smell inside or outside the car. If you notice smoke or smell burning oil, examine the oil filter housing gasket and other parts for leaks and replace them.
Can You Drive With a Broken Oil Filter Housing
No. A broken oil filter housing can cause a severe oil leak that can damage your engine and other vehicle parts. Driving with a broken oil filter housing can result in the following:
- Engine oil loss: A broken oil filter housing can cause the engine oil to escape and reduce the oil level in the engine. This affects the engine components’ lubrication and cooling and increases friction and heat.
- Engine overheating: The engine overheats due to the loss of oil and its cooling effect. Overheating damages the engine parts and causes performance issues or even engine failure.
- Poor performance: Reduces the oil pressure and causes the warning light to come on. This could indicate that the engine is not getting enough oil or is contaminated by dirt or debris.
- Damage to other parts: A broken oil filter housing could also cause damage by dripping oil or creating a fire hazard. For example, oil leaking from the housing can stain the engine block, damage the belts or hoses, or ignite if it comes in contact with a hot exhaust manifold.
How Long Does it Take to Fix an Oil Filter Housing
The time it takes to fix an oil filter housing depends on the type and extent of the damage, the model of the vehicle, and the mechanic’s skill. However, a rough estimate is that replacing an oil filter housing or gasket can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Some factors that can affect the time are
- The location and accessibility of the oil filter housing. Other oil filter housings are easier to reach and remove than others, depending on the engine layout and design.
- The type of oil filter housing. In some cases, the oil filter housings are integrated with other components, such as the oil cooler or the sensors, and may require more steps and tools to replace
- The condition of the oil filter housing and gasket. In some vehicles, oil filter housings or gaskets may be stuck, warped, cracked, or corroded, requiring more effort and care to remove and install.
- The experience and expertise of the mechanic. A professional mechanic may be able to fix an oil filter housing faster and more efficiently than a DIYer or a novice mechanic.
Therefore, if you need to fix an oil filter housing, you should consult a qualified mechanic who can give you a more accurate estimate of the time and cost involved.
What Happens When an Oil Filter Housing Goes Bad
When an oil filter housing goes bad, it can cause various problems for your engine and vehicle, which include:
- Oil leak
A faulty oil filter housing causes oil to leak from the housing or from the gasket that seals it to the engine. This can cause oil loss, engine overheating, poor performance, and damage to other parts.
- Oil contamination
A bad oil filter housing allows contaminants and debris to enter the engine oil, affecting its quality and viscosity. That could result in poor lubrication, increased friction, and engine wear.
- Oil pressure drop
It also affects the engine’s oil pressure by creating a restriction or a leak in the oil flow. That can cause the oil pressure warning light to come on or the gauge to show lower-than-normal readings. Low oil pressure damages the engine components and causes performance issues.
- Oil filter burst
It may fail to adapt to the changes in temperature and pressure within the engine. That causes the oil filter to burst or rupture, leading to a sudden loss of oil pressure and possible engine failure.
Oil Filter Housing Replacement
Oil filter housing replacement is a service that involves removing and installing a new oil filter housing or mount that holds the oil filter in place and connects it to the engine. The oil filter housing may need to be replaced if it is cracked, warped, punctured, or leaking oil from the gasket or other parts. The oil filter housing replacement process can vary depending on the type and model of the vehicle. Below are the steps:
- Lift and support the vehicle on jack stands
- Remove the oil and filter
- Detach the oil filter housing from the engine block
- Transfer any sensors or hoses from the old housing to the new one
- Install the new oil filter housing with a new gasket and tighten it according to the specifications
- Install a new oil filter and add new oil
- Lower the vehicle and start the engine
- Check for any leaks or malfunctions.
An oil filter housing replacement can cost anywhere from $100 to $600, depending on the type of vehicle and the labor involved.
What are the differences between an oil filter and an oil filter housing?
An oil filter is a device that filters the oil that circulates through the engine, removing contaminants and debris that can harm the engine components. An oil filter housing is a mount or enclosure that holds the oil filter in place and connects it to the engine. The oil filter housing provides a secure and stable area for the oil filter to operate properly and protect the engine from oil leaks. The oil filter housing may also have other components attached to it, such as sensors, hoses, or coolers. The oil filter and the oil filter housing work together to ensure the quality and flow of the engine oil.
What are the types of oil filter housings?
Different oil filter housings depend on the design and configuration of the oil filter and the engine. Some of the common types are
Spin-on oil filter housings: These housings hold external oil filters that can be easily screwed on and off the engine. They have a threaded base plate that attaches to the engine block and a metal canister that encloses the filter element. They also have a gasket that seals the housing against leaks and a bypass valve that allows oil to flow when the filter is clogged.
Cartridge oil filter housings: They hold internal oil filters inserted into a sealed housing at the top of the engine. They have a removable cap that exposes the filter element and a gasket that seals the cap to the housing. They may also have sensors, hoses, or coolers attached to them. They also have a bypass valve that allows oil to flow when the filter is clogged.
Bag filter housings: These housings hold filters for high-flow and low-pressure applications. They have an inlet, an outlet port for the liquid flow, and a basket supporting the bag filter inside. They also have a lid that seals the housing and a vent valve that releases air.
Media filter housings: These hold media filters used for chemical or biological filtration of liquids. They have an inlet, an outlet port for the liquid flow, and a chamber containing the media filter material. They also have a lid that seals the housing and a drain valve that removes the liquid.
How Can I Prevent Oil Filter Housing Leak
Check and replace the oil filter and the oil filter housing gasket regularly.
A worn-out or damaged oil filter or gasket can cause oil to leak from the housing. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the oil change interval, filter, and gasket type.
Install the oil filter and the oil filter housing gasket correctly.
Make sure the oil filter is compatible with your engine and the oil filter housing. Clean the housing mating surface and apply a thin layer of oil to the gasket before installing it. Hand-tighten the oil filter and then give it a quarter-turn with a wrench. Do not over-tighten or under-tighten the oil filter, as this can damage the gasket or cause it to loosen.
Inspect and tighten the oil filter housing and its components.
Ensure the oil filter housing is securely attached to the engine block and there are no cracks, warps, or punctures. Check that the nipple, adapter, sensors, hoses, or coolers connected to the housing are also tight and in good condition.
Avoid physical damage to the oil filter housing
Protect the oil filter housing from impact by rocks, debris, or road hazards that can damage its outer shell or cause it to leak. Avoid using tools that scratch, dent, or deform the housing or its components.
The oil filter housing is an important part of the engine that holds and protects the oil filter from leaks and damage. It can sometimes leak for various reasons, such as a bad oil filter or gasket, a loose or damaged housing or its components, or a physical impact. A leaking oil filter housing causes serious problems for the engine and vehicle problems, such as oil loss, engine overheating, poor performance, and damage to other parts. Prevent and fix an oil filter housing leak as soon as possible by following the proper maintenance and installation procedures and using the right oil filter and gasket for your vehicle. That will help extend the life and reliability of your engine and enjoy a smooth and safe driving experience.