A Complete Guide to Your Kia Optima Oil Filter

The oil filter on your Kia Optima is responsible for removing contaminants from your vehicle’s engine oil that can accumulate over time, so it goes without saying that clean motor oil is critical. If left unfiltered, motor oil could become saturated with hard, tiny particles that would ultimately wear surfaces in your Optima’s engine. The dirty oil could potentially wear the machined components of the oil pump and ultimately cause damage to the engine’s bearing surfaces.

How an Oil Filter Works

On the outside of the filter, you’ll find a metal can equipped with a sealing gasket. This feature allows you tightly secure the filter against the mating surface of the engine. The can’s base plate holds the gasket in place and is equipped with holes inside the gasket. The hole in the center of the part is designed to adhere to the engine block’s oil filter assembly. Inside the metal can is where you’ll find the filter material, which is typically made out of synthetic fiber.

The oil pump of your engine pushes the oil straight to the filter, where it enters via the holes located around the base plate. Then, pressure moves the dirty oil through the filter and back through the central hole, where it travels once more to the engine.

Warning Signs of a Dirty Oil Filter

Since the oil filter works hand-in-hand with your Optima’s engine oil to prevent contaminants from entering your engine, it’s important to watch for signs of possible problems as you travel through Branford:

1. Your car is sputtering.

If you hear sputtering, it’s most likely due to a damaged or clogged oil filter. When this happens, the filter fails to release oil as it’s designed to do, and your car isn’t able to keep up with the speed you’re trying to maintain. Even light or sporadic sputtering could worsen quickly, so it’s recommended to change the filter before a small problems turns into an even larger one.

2. Your car’s performance decreases.

It goes without saying that you should always pay attention to your Optima’s performance level. If your car is straining, it won’t pick up speed as it usually does, and you might think your accelerator isn’t working right. Although you’ll still hear the engine run, it won’t be performing as well as it should, and continuing to drive may damage essential parts of your car.

3. You hear metallic sounds.

Low oil in the engine causes metal to grind against metal as the engine continues to run. These metallic sounds are a sign that you should pull over right away before you do more damage to your car. Not only will you need to repair the oil filter, but you’ll likely need to add more oil into your vehicle as well.

4. You see dirty exhaust.

One of the most common signs of a clogged oil filter is dirty or black exhaust coming out of the back of your car. When this happens, you’ll also smell burning oil as it travels into the exhaust pipe. These odors are a surefire sign that you need to check your oil filter, and you’ll likely need to replace the filter, fix the clog in the system and dispose of any grime or sludge that has accumulated inside the car.

Choosing the Right Oil Filter

Choosing the right oil filter for your Kia Optima is vital. Although you may think that all oil filters are created equal, small differences in the gasket size or threads can determine whether or not a filter will work on your car. To ensure you choose the right one, reference a parts catalog or consult your owner’s manual. If you use the wrong filter, the filter could fall off or cause oil to leak out of the engine, leading to serious damage and expensive repairs.

In general, the more money a filter costs, the better it is. Inexpensive oil filters can contain poor quality gaskets, shredding or loose filter material and light-gauge metal, all of which can contribute to the downfall of the filter. If you pay a little more, you’re sure to find a filter that lasts longer and does a better job of filtering out smaller pieces of dirt. Oil filters can be found locally throughout Branford, CT or online through authorized retailers.

How to Change Your Car’s Motor Oil Filter

Most car manufacturers recommend changing your oil filter every time you have your oil changed, which is typically every three months or every 3,000 miles, whichever comes first. Remember: The oil filter holds all of the excess grime and sludge that the oil catches while it lubricates the engine. Changing the filter is crucial to maintaining your Optima, because without a new filter in place, new oil will be passing through the old filter, thus making it less effective and dirty.

While you have your car lifted and you’re draining the oil, first find the filter. It may be orange, black, white or blue depending on the brand and will be cylindrical in shape. Using an oil filter wrench, turn the filter counterclockwise to loosen it. Be extremely careful when removing the filter as it will have hot oil inside of it. Turning the wrench one time should loosen up the part enough so that you can use your hand to twist it off the rest of the way.

Before you install a new filter, rub a small amount of clean oil around the new filter’s rubber gasket to help it fit snugly onto the engine block. It’s also good for engine maintenance to use a rag and remove any excess oil that might have accumulated where the filter screws onto the engine. Now, screw the new filter onto the engine block using your hand, and once it’s snug, securely tighten it with your oil filter wrench. Remember: You want to make sure the filter is on tight, but avoid over-tightening it as you could break the filter and cause a leak.

As we’ve seen, learning how an oil filter works involves more than simply sifting out debris through a filter. The component is designed not only to remove contaminants but also to keep the unfiltered and filtered oil in their proper areas. Your Kia Optima oil filter is also responsible for feeding oil in a less-than-desirable form when your engine needs it most.