Do You Have a Bad Oil Filter?

When you change the oil in your Toyota Tacoma, it’s also important to change the oil filter as well. Since the filter is constantly used while your truck is running, it can fill up and get clogged faster than you think. You can change the oil and oil filter on your own as long as you have the right replacement parts and the right tools. However, it’s easy to find the correct filter for your truck, especially if you understand how the oil system and, in particular, oil filters work.

Types of Oil Filters

Car manufacturers use standard types and sizes of oil filters. Most consist of some type of container that holds the filter elements inside the unit. Oil filters also feature a bypass valve that allows the oil to continue to flow to the engine even if the filter is blocked or clogged. Larger vehicles and trucks usually have a bigger oil filter to handle the increased amount of oil that must run through the filter in order for the truck to move. Mechanical filters allow oil to pass through an opening on the unit and into a filter core that’s located in the canister itself. The core is typically made from paper, although some oil filters consist of fabric cores or metal screens. As the oil flows from the filter core, it leaves behind debris, dirt and other impurities before it reaches the engine. Mechanical filters don’t need any other pieces or components to push the oil since the engine already provides that movement. Similar to mechanical filters, magnetic filters use the same core system. The only difference is that magnetic filters feature a magnetic either within the core itself or outside the core and within the canister. The magnet pulls metal from the engine oil as it filters, thus keeping the debris out of the engine. Keep in mind that magnetic filters require occasional maintenance to remove particles from the magnets to ensure they will continue to function as intended.

Symptoms of a Bad Oil Filter

Due to the bypass filter, you may not know that your oil filter is clogged or damaged until you or a mechanic checks it. In some cases, the vehicle may indicate a problem via a light on the dashboard. The “check engine” light may come on, or you may notice a light related specifically to your oil system. Remember that your Tacoma may overheat faster if the oil filter is bad or clogged, and you could also experience oil leaks due to worn filters. A common symptom of a bad oil filter is black or dirty exhaust coming from your tailpipe. You may also smell oil as it travels throughout your system. These are great sensory symptoms to watch for as you can easily see smoke and smell burning oil. If you notice one or both, it’s time to check--and probably change--your oil filter. Take care to dispose of any sludge or grime that may have accumulated due to the clog. Are you hearing metallic sounds coming from your truck? If the engine oil level is low, the metal components will continue to grind against one another as you drive. This means that oil is not reaching the parts and, as a result, can’t lubricate the moving components. If this happens, take your truck off the road immediately to avoid causing additional damage to your truck. You’ll probably need to fix the oil filter and top off your oil level as well. Finally, if you’ve noticed that your Toyota Tacoma simply isn’t getting the gas mileage it used to, or you’re experience performance issues as you commute through Southfield, it could be a sign that your oil filter is in trouble. Signs of performance decreases include a stubborn accelerator, trouble accelerating or straining as you drive. Although the engine will sound fine and you won’t notice any funky noises or smells, it ultimately won’t perform as well as it should. If you continue to drive without checking for problems and quickly fixing any issues you find, you could risk damaging critical components of your truck.

Choosing and Changing the Oil Filter

In most cases, oil filter manufacturers will label the filter with the size and model number to make it easy for you to find the correct replacement. If you can no longer see these numbers, check your Tacoma’s owner’s manual. Most manufacturers list the model numbers for acceptable replacements for some of the “top name” filter makers. Before changing the oil filter, you must first drain the oil from your truck. Once it’s all removed, you then use an oil filter wrench to grasp the filter and twist it to remove it from the connector. A used oil filter will be full of debris, oil and sludge, so make sure you handle it with care and caution. Before replacing the bad oil filter with the new, apply a small amount of clean oil to the end of the unit. This will allow it to properly seat against the engine. Since oil filters are full of contaminants such as used engine oil, you can’t just throw them away in the trash. Some landfills and mechanics offer disposal services, so contact your local municipality to determine the correct way to dispose of the used filter. Avoid throwing oil filters in the trash bin at your house since they may leak used motor oil.


An oil filter is one of the most important components on your Tacoma. Without it, sludge, grime, dirt and debris would make their way to the engine and cause devastating, costly repairs. Not only is the oil filter designed to remove contaminants, but it also ensures that filtered and unfiltered oil stays in its respective areas. When shopping for a new oil filter, make sure you choose one that’s compatible with your Toyota Tacoma to ensure the best fit and function.