Do you have to change the oil when changing the oil filter?

Motorcycle oil filter - old and used

Oftentimes, changing oil and oil filter frequency does not match. Ideally, it should. But it does not happen since we don’t care much about oil filters. 😉

So, do you have to change the oil while changing the oil filter? Changing oil when changing oil filter is a definite best practice to follow, although not mandatory. Changing oil as well helps in better efficiency and longevity of the oil filter.

As for how it helps, let’s discuss it in detail.

Do you need to change the oil when changing oil filter?

Although not mandatory, it is best practice to change the engine oil while changing the oil filter.

This is because of two reasons:

  1. there will be oil spillage anyways
  2. new oil helps in better efficiency and longevity of the oil filter

Let’s discuss each point in detail.

First, whenever you are changing the oil filter in your motorcycle or a car, the engine oil will spill despite your best efforts.

Most oil filters are located underneath their motorcycles or cars. The moment you remove the old oil filter, the oil will spill down, resulting in low oil levels already.

So, with the oil spillage, you can do two things.

Either you can top up the oil to compensate for the oil lost in spillage or you can change the oil altogether.

Even if the oil filter is located alongside the engine crankcase, there will be enough oil leakage to warrant a top-up.

The effort required for topping up the oil and changing the oil is almost the same.

And when you are at it, it is much better to replace the oil as well rather than topping it up.

Second, as time passes by the oil quality degrades down with the oil molecules breaking up and creating more contaminants. If the newly installed oil filter has to clean up the contaminants from the old oil filter, the filter effectiveness will reduce down in no time.

Think of an oil filter as this waste dump for all the dirt that engine oil contains.

If you are taking out this huge trash, better clean the house as well.

Replacing the oil along with the oil filter will result in higher efficiency as well as life expectancy for the filter.

So, while it is not mandatory or anything, it is a good maintenance practice to change the oil whenever you are changing the oil filter for your motorcycle or a car.

Related read: Oil filter maintenance tips

What happens if you change the filter but not the oil?

Nothing drastic.

If you change the oil filter but not oil, there won’t be any damage to the engine or the motorcycle, for that matter.

But, since the oil filter will be dealing with old oil with its contaminants – which will be far too high than that of new oil, the oil filter efficiency and life expectancy will reduce down.

In no time, you will have a bad oil filter again and you will be forced to replace the filter again. Hopefully this time, along with the engine oil.

In short, if you change the oil filter without changing the oil, the oil filter’s efficiency and life span will decrease faster. Other than that, there is no major impact if you don’t change the oil along with the oil filter.

Can you change oil with the same filter?

You can change the oil with the same oil filter. Again, there will be n0 serious damage to the engine as such, but it’s a best practice to change the oil and oil filter together with new ones.

If you are not changing the oil filter at every oil change, consider at least changing the filter every alternate time you are changing the oil.

A bad oil filter will take its toll on the engine eventually as the quality of oil flowing across the engine components will start deteriorating with the oil filter not cleaning the oil properly as time passes.

How do I know if my oil filter is bad?

A bad or clogged oil filter is harmful to the engine in the long run since it affects engine performance, mileage, and life expectancy.

There will be increased wear and tear of the engine components, increased sludge, and increased deposits on the engine components since the oil quality will be deteriorated fast – all because the oil filter is in bad working condition.

You need to replace the oil filter as early as possible when you know the filter is in bad condition.

Now, having said that, how do you know your oil filter is in bad condition? What are the symptoms?

The major symptoms of a bad oil filter include:

  • Black smoke coming from the exhaust
  • Increased engine vibrations and noise
  • Rapid decreasing of oil quality
  • Poor engine performance and low mileage
  • Engine overheating

For a detailed description, you can refer to our post on the symptoms of a clogged oil filter.

A good maintenance measure is to replace the oil filter on a periodic basis along with the oil.

How often should I change an oil filter?

On average, you should change the oil filter for every 6000 miles of distance traveled.

Also, it is even advised to change your oil filter every time you are changing the engine oil. While this is the best practice, I change the oil filter every alternate time I am changing the engine oil.

Either way, ensure that you replace your oil filter on a regular basis. Not changing the oil filter can be detrimental to engine performance and life expectancy.

Do you fill the oil filter with oil?

There is no need to fill the oil filter with oil while installing. Instead, just apply some oil to the gasket (oil ring) while replacing the filter.

Filling the oil filter is an unnecessary hassle as it can be annoying – since it involves a lot of oil spillage and can be extremely messy.

So, unless you are replacing the oil filter for a heavy machinery vehicle, there is no need to fill the oil. Just some oil on the filter’s gasket is more than sufficient.