Oil Filter Cause Your Engine Knock? [Explained]

Engine knock is a term that describes the tapping sound you can hear from your car when it’s running. It usually means there’s an engine problem. That sounds like bad news, but not always.

There are plenty of reasons for knocking and most of them can be resolved without major repairs. Let’s take a look at what might cause engine knock and how to fix it.

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What is engine knocking?

Engine knocking is a pinging or thudding sound, that arises due to the uneven combustion of fuel inside the engine cylinder. Knocking was first observed by Harry Ricardo during his research on the failure of aircraft engines in the early 20th century.

Can oil filter cause engine knock?

The simple answer is Yes. We’ve all heard the expression ‘change your oil, and filter’, but have you ever considered that swapping out your oil filter could actually be causing engine knock? Don’t worry, I’m not saying that every time you change your oil, the engine starts knocking.

There are really only five situations in which using a poor-quality or dirty oil filter can cause engine knock.

That’s because the oil filter is positioned right by the engine. So if the new filter doesn’t allow as much, or any of the oil to pass through, it means that your engine will be starved of lubrication for a little bit longer than usual.

  • You’ve just put in a thicker type of oil

It’s similar to the first situation with a thinner oil filter, only this time you’re putting in oil that requires more time for the filter to pass through. The result is a longer engine warm-up time and, as before, eventually some engine knock. At least, that’s what would happen if you didn’t properly install the new oil filter, but I’ll cover that in more detail later.

  • The filter has failed and is no longer allowing any of the oil to get through

This causes damage almost immediately, as your engine will be starved of oil until you can get it fixed. By the time you notice a knocking noise, your engine could actually be severely damaged. If that’s the case, seek professional help immediately.

  • The filter isn’t sealed properly

If there’s even a little bit of space between where the oil filter connects to the engine and where it meets with an oil pan gasket (and almost all of them have a gasket), the oil will flow from the pan to the filter. This can cause engine knock, but it’ll happen right after you start your car or within a few minutes.

  • The seal of your new oil filter is bad

If your old filter was faulty and gushing out oil, that means there’s already oil in the pan when you put on the new filter. When you torque it down, it’ll cause a slight vacuum and suck some of that oil out through the filter. If this happens, you probably won’t notice anything wrong after you start your car, but a few minutes later or the next time you drive it, your engine will begin to knock.

Can oil filter make knocking noise?

If you hear a ‘rattling’ type of sound coming from your engine it’s likely to be an oil filter.

One of the most common things that people mistake for a problem in their car is actually an oil filter that has become clogged with crud and debris following use. The question I’m asked most frequently regarding noise from the engine is ‘Is it something wrong with my car?’

As a DIYer, I’m always keen to save money where possible and get out of the workshop as soon as I can. So, rather than visit the garage for an oil change every 12 months, why not do it yourself?

The problem is this, If I can hear a rattling noise from my engine then it must mean there’s something wrong with it.

This isn’t the case and I’ll explain why.

Oils are made up of two different components: The base oil itself, which is typically a mineral or synthetic type of oil that serves as the lubricating component, and of course, the additives.

It’s these additives that help protect your engine against wear, deposits, rust, and corrosion as well as providing antifreeze and oil stability.

The fluids synthetic oils contain are designed to keep your engine clean while withstanding extreme temperature changes between hot and cold. As they do this they attract contaminants from the combustion process as well as trapping them within the oil itself.

The additives are then designed to break these contaminants down so they can be flushed through your engine and out of it during your regular oil change.

As you drive, tiny particles of metal shavings and rubber build-up within the system along with bits of carbon which can greatly affect your oil’s ability to lubricate and protect your engine.

By the time you get to change it, there may be a considerable amount of debris in the oil which, from inside your engine, can make quite a lot of noise as they bounce around and grind against each other.

It’s not good for an engine to have all this debris trapped and rattling around inside it, but the noise you’re hearing is not a sure-fire sign that your vehicle needs fixing.

Can oil change stop engine knocking?

The rattling and banging you’re hearing could be caused by a loose or faulty oil filter, an old one that has become clogged with debris following use (which will happen eventually), or because the gasket has become warped and no longer provides a good seal.

If you are experiencing engine problems like this, it is recommended to perform an oil change and stop your car from knocking. So, the answer to whether oil change can stop engine knock is Yes.


Can oil filter cause engine knock? The answer is yes. If you hear a rattling or banging noise from your car, it may be an oil filter that has become clogged with debris following use. This can happen when there are tiny particles of metal shavings and rubber build-up within the system along with bits of carbon which affect your oil’s ability to lubricate and protect the engine by breaking down contaminants so they can be flushed out during regular maintenance. As time goes on, this buildup will make more noise as they bounce around inside the engine but if it’s not too bad yet then chances are you won’t need to visit a mechanic soon unless something else in the car breaks first.