Oil Bypass Valves: What They Are and Do You Need One? Explained by Car Expert Mike Urban.

Dear Mike,

I recently heard about something called an oil bypass valve and I have no idea what it is or why it’s important. Can you please explain to me what an oil bypass valve is and how it works in a car engine? Also, should I consider installing one in my car? Thank you for your help!



Dear Lysander,

Thank you for reaching out to me with your question about the oil bypass valve. While it may sound like a fancy contraption that only the most advanced gearheads use, it’s actually a pretty basic and important component in your car’s engine.

First things first – let’s talk about what the oil bypass valve does. The purpose of this little guy is to keep unfiltered oil flowing to vital engine parts even when the oil filter gets clogged. It’s like a backup plan to make sure your car can still be lubricated, even if something goes wrong with the filter.

Now, onto the second part of your question – should you consider installing one in your car? Well, the good news is that if you have the 3.6L Pentastar engine found in Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep vehicles, then you already have one. In fact, you may actually be experiencing a common problem with this particular engine: a broken oil filter bypass valve.

When you or your mechanic are changing the oil filter, you may notice a broken piece of plastic with a spring come out of the top of the housing or hear the part pop out after the filter cap is removed. This is the oil filter bypass valve, and it’s a known issue with this engine. Over time, the plastic housing of the oil cooler will start to lose its shape from the heat, ultimately leading to oil leaks. But the good news is that all you may need is a repair kit to replace the broken valve.

But let’s say you don’t have the 3.6L Pentastar engine – should you still consider installing an oil bypass valve? Well, that’s a bit of a gray area. Some folks swear by them, while others don’t think they’re worth the expense. It really comes down to personal preference and the specific needs of your vehicle.

In general, if you tend to do a lot of off-roading or regularly drive on dusty or unpaved roads, an oil bypass valve may be a good investment. These conditions can increase the likelihood of your oil filter getting clogged, so having a backup plan in place can help make sure your engine stays lubricated.

But if you mostly stick to city driving and keep up with regular maintenance, an oil filter bypass valve may not be necessary. It ultimately comes down to your individual driving habits and the conditions you typically encounter on the road.

In summary, the oil bypass valve is a pretty basic but important component in your car’s engine. If you have the 3.6L Pentastar engine, definitely keep an eye out for broken valves and get them repaired as needed. And if you’re considering installing one in a different vehicle, think about your driving habits and the conditions you typically encounter on the road before making a decision.

Thanks for writing in, Lysander! If you have any other car-related questions, don’t hesitate to ask.


Mike Urban, Founder of Urban Automotive