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Why Timing Chains Stretch, part 4

oil filter affects timing chains

Oil filters. Oil filtration. Oil filter quality. Yes, an oil filter can be attributed to timing chain stretch.

Summarizing the last 3 parts of this series:

The type of engine- whether it has timing chains or a timing belt (part 1 covered the difference between a timing belt and timing chain); and specific vehicles that are more susceptible to timing chain stretch than others. In part 2 we covered why timing chains stretch.

The type of fuel injection the vehicle is using contributes to timing chain stretch, mainly most modern vehicles with GDI- Gasoline Direct injection. GDI creates a specific soot that is formed and passed on into the oil.

The type of oil that is used- Specific API and ILSAC certifications that the oil must adhere to in order to help mitigate the soot being absorbed by the oil, but rather stay in suspension so the oil filter can remove it. In part 3 we covered the best oil for your vehicles engine.

And that’s where we land in this article. How timing chain stretch can be accelerated by a poor oil filter. You can greatly influence 2 out of 4 of these variables- by ensuring you’re getting quality and correct oil and filters!

The oil filtration system is designed to remove contaminants and particles from the oil, preventing them from circulating through the engine. Contrary to belief, some engines only filter some of the oil all of the time. Eventually, all the oil gets filtered, but it’s not an ideal situation.

Engines before 1960(ish) were known to have this system. Porsche’s 356 engine was known to filter approximately “92%” of the oil. Some older cars used a roll of toilet paper for an oil filter!

Some oil filtration systems have a “bypass valve” that if the oil filter becomes clogged, or the oil is too thick, will “bypass” the filter until normal operation is recovered. Typically spin-on type filters utilize a system like this. Again, not ideal.

As far as I know, all new vehicles (last 20ish years) utilize “full flow oil filters” where 100% of the oil is filtered first, before going into the engine. Spin on filters will still bypass the oil filter, and while not ideal, this is where quality oil filters count.

So what makes a good and bad filter? The oil filter’s job is to take particulate, dirt, foreign matter, metal deposits and other various floating/suspended debris and lodge it into the filter material, in order to clean the oil sufficiently enough that critical components like bearings are not damaged over long term use.

How do you measure that? Typically by looking at the filtration level and efficiency measured in microns. The lower the micron rating and higher efficiency means more dirt that is captured. A common oil filter micron rating is approximately 40 microns. A human hair is approximately 70 microns and beach sand is .3-60 microns. A General Motors study concluded that “Compared to a 40 micron filter, engine wear was reduced 50% with 30 micron filtration. Likewise, wear was reduced by 70% with 15 micron filtration.”

cheap vs good oil filer european vehicles
cheap vs good oil filer for European vehicles

A BMW factory filter has an average of 20 microns. It is constructed of Resin-impregnated cellulose, reinforced by synthetic fiber as well as cotton material to efficiently trap foreign particles and not obstruct the oil flow. It’s designed to be the best, and it shows.

Now, take an aftermarket filter with incorrectly fitting filters, plastic end caps, poor filtration material and usually a “one size fits a bunch” mentality that the oil chain places use. What’s worse is when an oil filter fails- where we’re physically pulling chunks of the filter out of the housing. Think about how easily dirt, GDI soot and other debris can be pushed past the filter and the components get circulated with this dirty oil.

This is where it’s so important to have a quality oil and filter installed instead of simply looking at the lowest (or most convenient) price. You could be taking 10’s of thousands of miles off of your engine’s life by not using quality components.

If you want to ensure a quality service is performed on your vehicle, swing by our location at 8498 Miller road, The Woodlands, Texas 77354 or visit us online 832-797-9114 and we’ll make SURE you get the right service on your car!

Alex Noll

CEO – ABR Houston
832-797-9114 8498 Miller Road, The Woodlands Texas 77354

Welcome to ABR Houston, the leading European auto repair shop in The Woodlands. With over a decade of experience and a proven history of serving over 10,000 satisfied customers, we have recently relocated our shop to The Woodlands to better serve our valued clients. Our commitment to exceptional service and expertise remains our priority. From routine maintenance to intricate repairs, our dedicated team is determined to keep you confidently on the road. Trust in the experience and reliability of ABR Houston, where customer satisfaction drives our passion for excellence. Your Local Experts for AudiBMWMiniRolls-Royce & Volkswagen Service In The Woodlands.

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