An oil filter is probably one of the simplest parts of your car. No one tends to give them much thought since we assume that one is very much like another, and they get tossed every oil change anyway. But did you know that fake oil filters exist and are, in fact, becoming a very real problem for car owners?
It sounds almost like a bad joke, but the reality is far from it. TCCN Automotive Inc. elaborates on this in a recent YouTube video regarding a customer’s car that faced this rather serious issue.
As related in the video, a 2008 Toyota Highlander with a single owner and good maintenance history was brought into their shop with a very noticeable ticking noise from the top end of the engine.
While this is known to be a weakness of the Toyota 3.5 liter V6, which is caused by the Variable Valve Timing gears developing problems, most often caused by low oil pressure, there was more to this case. On the subject vehicle, TCCN found that the VVT-i on the rear bank of the engine was not functioning at all, which indicated the need for a major repair with significant disassembly.
More: Toyota Master Technician Argues Against 10,000-Mile Oil Change Intervals With Busted Engine Teardown
Before starting on the work, they had decided to inspect the oil and the filter. As shown in the video, they were shocked to find that the inner material of the oil filter fitted to the vehicle appeared to have had a complete loss of structural integrity and was effectively falling apart. It’s believed that the installed oil filter was counterfeit, with TCCN demonstrating what a used genuine filter should look like.
As a result of the failure in the filter, the engine was unable to develop proper stable oil pressure, which led to the VVT-i system being unable to function as designed. Unfortunately for the vehicle owner, the system appeared to have sustained some major damage because, although the ticking initially disappeared after the oil and filter were changed, after some running, it had returned. TCCN states that they advised the customer to keep running the vehicle while monitoring the sound, and that they would investigate further if it got worse.
The customer had informed them that the oil filter in question was purchased from what was though to be a trusted source. But perhaps the only reliable source to obtain Toyota genuine parts is a Toyota dealership, and this filter had not been purchased at one. In the end, that small oversight led to a very large repair being needed.