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Factory oil filter dissection

Exit32

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My 2018 Explorer Platinum with 3.5 Ecoboost was approaching the thousand-mile mark, and I decided to replace the factory-fill motor oil with Mobil 1 5w30 Extended Performance and swap-in a new Motorcraft FL-500S oil filter to take the place of the factory filter. Everything looked good during the procedure; however, the original oil appeared very dark while it was draining. With only 997 miles on the oil, I expected something like a light-amber color. I suspect the blackish tint was a result of the engine's assembly lube dissolved in the oil.

As I usually do, I decided to take a look inside the factory oil filter. I wanted to see if there were any pieces of gasket material or flakes of metal trapped by the filter -- this is not uncommon with a brand-new engine. I have an oil-filter cutter that cleanly removes the end of the oil filter, and it was easy to open the original filter. Inside, I couldn't find any evidence of trapped engine break-in particles whatsoever. The filter media was very clean, and there was no residue in the bottom of the filter can. While I'm sure I could have driven 10,000 miles before the first oil-and-filter change without doing harm to the engine, I now have peace of mind knowing that (undetectable) break-in debris has been removed -- and the black oil has been replaced.

I don't want to clutter this forum with more than one boring photo, so if you want to see additional details of the oil-filter dissection, take a look at this online photo album:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/9964408@N07/3502T5

2018 Orig Oil Filter.jpg
 



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TwinExes

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Very Nice! Thanks for sharing. I think the dye they put in the oil at the factory makes it look funny. You will find the oil doesn’t stay “clean looking” in these engines long. Our 2.0l EB Escape is worse.
 






Yanik4

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I wouldn't worry about the color. Modern oil turns dark when it is simply heated, even at normal working conditions and temperatures. The color by itself is not a very good indicator.
 






Halwg

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I have no clue why people do this.
 






Exit32

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I have no clue why people do this.

The answer is simple: Curiosity.

Motor oil is the lifeblood of your engine. The more you know about the condition of your oil, the more you know about what's happening with the engine internally. Inside the oil filter is where you typically find a concentration of undesirable stuff like sludge and particulates. If you find too much of that stuff, it means something is wrong inside the engine.

The other reason to cut open an oil filter is to check the condition of the filter itself. There have been instances where the filter media is torn or punctured resulting in unfiltered oil circulating through the engine. If you find a defect inside an oil filter, I'd suggest you stop using that filter's brand.
 






Centaurus5.0

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Looking at your pics, there is quite a bit of assembly lube trapped in the oil filter. Do you happen to own magnet? Motorcraft says the smallest particle their filter filters is 20 microns. It doesn't say what percentage (like 80% at 20 microns) but lets just say 100%. Most engine wear (over time) from foreign contaminants are from particles 10-20 microns which just happens to be at and under the size the human eye can see. Human hair is 100 microns and must be the size of the the metal flakes people think to see when they hear of "break-in particles". Obviously there has been improvements in manufacturing over the years, but not enough to build a completely clean engine in a mass production setting. If you've ever seen a transmission or rear diff magnet, the particles are so fine its like a paste when it collects on it, and that fine a particle is what can accelerate wear when parts are reciprocating thousands of times a minute. That "paste" is what I found on my magnetic engine drain plug. It won't be "detectable" until it's all in one place.

In any case, you are more than welcome to draw your own conclusions based on your experience and run the original oil for 10,000 miles.

Modern oil turns dark when it is simply heated, even at normal working conditions and temperatures.

My Amsoil still has an amber tint at 8,000 miles. Can you tell me what temperature it needs to reach before it starts to turn black because I don't have a clue??
 






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