The Ultimate Oil Filters Buying Guide
Choosing The Right Oil Filters
Why do you even require an oil filter? What if I end up using the wrong filter for my car? Are these some of the questions you ask yourself sometimes? This article will take you through the path of deciding the best oil filter for your car.
We’re sure you would want your car to be ‘running like a well-oiled machine and understand that it is not just the oil, but also the filter that matters. This will save you from paying frequent visits to the mechanic, your time, and your money.
What Is An Oil Filter?
When it comes to the maintenance of your car, an oil filter is arguably one of the most important components. Designed and constructed to filter the oil contaminants like small metal pieces from entering the engine, an oil filter ensures the smooth running of the engine. Metaphorically speaking, it is the kidney of your vehicle.
Packed in a metal sheet, an oil filter functions in such a way that the oil passes through two media, the primary and secondary. Primary media clears out particles up to 25-30 microns and the secondary media traps particles as small as 5-10 microns. The longer the size of the filter, the better it is since more contaminants can be cleared. That being said, the filters are application-specific. The filtration media or the bypass valve rating could be different which could adversely affect the oil flow to the engine.
What Type Of Oil Filter And Material Should I Choose?
Type Of Filtration Media
1. Mechanical Oil Filter
Mechanical Oil filter consists of pleated filter paper, this filtration media allows the oil to pass through it and the dirt and debris are screened on the external surface. However, as the impurities start building up, the oil flow is restricted. Due to this, you will have to replace the filter oftentimes. On the brighter side, these filters are inexpensive and easy to install thereby creating less hassle for you.
2. Magnetic Oil Filter
Magnetic filters are used to eliminate metallic contaminants. Magnetic oil filters use magnets or electro-magnets as their filtering agents. The magnets suspend the flow of debris into the engine. As the oil flows through it, the contaminants are deposited on the magnetic surface, allowing just the oil to flow. But this filter does demand cleaning since the pollutants can clog the surface over time and eventually block the oil flow. Cleaning just the magnetic surface would suffice the maintenance requirement of it.
3. Sedimentation Oil Filter
Fondly known as the “gravity bed oil filter”, it does not have any specific filtration media. It relies on gravity to do its job on the pollutants present in the oil. As the oil enters the filter, the heavy debris goes down while the clean oil rises up. However, this is not the most efficient way to filter the engine oil since it enters at a certain velocity and pressure, not giving enough time for the debris to sediment. Consequently, there is a good chance that the pollutants escape the clutches of gravity and enter the engine.
4. Centrifugal Oil Filter
An interesting yet simple physics is implemented here. You would have found yourself being pushed out in a merry-go-round. This is because of centrifugal force, a force that pushes the body outwards when in a circular motion. With the same principle, the filter is constructed in such a way that the inside drum rotates, and the oil exits through the bottom of the drum. The debris, due to its weight is stuck to the walls of the drum and hence cannot go any further with the oil. Like the other filters, even this one requires cleaning of the drum, causing it to stop rotating otherwise.
Material Of Filter
Cellulose is used on economy filters. It is typically used in making disposable filter types, they can hold pollutants upto the size of 8-10 microns which is just about enough to purify 40% of the oil. Since the debris easily clogs the surface obstructing the oil flow, it is recommended to replace the filter every 3000-3500 miles.
There is synthetic fiber media for the high-end filters that has smaller passages to trap smaller particles but can also pass more fluid through because it has more passages, thus increasing the inherent surface area. Synthetic filters are usually made of nylon, glass, or polyester. Synthetic filters perform better than cellulose ones in filtering out the contaminants from the oil. They last longer as well, typically 5000-6000 miles before replacement.
Most high-end oil filters include an extremely fine metal media or micro glass. Close to 10 times finer than the cellulose fiber, this ultra-thin fiber is something you can count on for filtering even the finest of particles. They also boast a long life of 10,000 miles before demanding a replacement.
What Are The Factors I Should Consider Before Buying An Oil Filter?
1. Filtration Media
The type of media used in an oil filter determines its effectiveness in blocking the contaminants. By far, the most efficient and long-lasting ones are Microglass, but they are expensive. Though cellulose media filters are affordable, they aren’t very efficient. The one that shares a good balance between cost and performance is synthetic media.
Often the price can be a good indicator of the filter quality in terms of longevity and performance. While microglass filters are expensive initially, they last a long time which reduces the need for regular replacements and saves you in the long run. They can also provide added performance benefits. Cellulose oil filters are more affordable but with regular replacements and poorer performance the scale evens out. A good compromise between the two is synthetic filters which offer better performance at fair prices.
3. Oil Filter Capacity
The amount of debris that an oil filter can hold, before it allows the unfiltered oil into the engine refers to the oil filter capacity. So make sure to choose an oil filter that has the capacity to hold the debris till its service life. 4. Longer Shelf Life Synthetic filters have a longer life span when compared to cellulose but not much longer than microglass. Microglass filters can last up to 19,000 km which means that they will need a replacement every 2 to 5 years. Though these filters are expensive, they are valued for money. 5. Weather conditions You must always consider the weather conditions when you are buying an oil filter, especially the cold weather. During cold temperatures, the oil usually thickens. Therefore Microglass filters are an ideal choice as they are non-restrictive meaning they won't affect the flow of thicker oil through the engine. 6. Low Micron Rating This rating shows the lowest particle size that the filter can stop and anything below manages to escape the filter. On that note, a lower micron rating translates to more efficient filtration of the oil. A micron rating below 10 suggests that the filter can clear out most of the contaminants. 7. Compatibility
This can be seen in two ways, oil compatibility and vehicle compatibility. The ”one size fits all” logic is not applicable in this case. A filter that fits in the threads of your vehicle doesn’t always mean it is suitable for the oil running in it. Therefore, a compatibility check is a must before buying. 8. Anti-drainback Valve This is an essential filter feature which is ignored most of the time. It prevents the oil from exiting the filter when the engine is turned off. Assuming a scenario without it, the unfiltered oil could enter the engine and cause damage to it which is definitely not something that you would want. It also serves another purpose, preventing a “dry start”.
Which Top Brand Oil Filter Should I Choose?
Fram Oil Filter
With a good long history of producing some of the best oil filters in the market, this American company has mastered the science of filtering since 1934.
1. Extra Guard Cartridge Oil Filter
A special filter media which is a mixture of fibers and resin stops 95% of the dirt particles.
An anti drain back valve helps in providing engine start-up protection.
The perfect balance of dirt-trapping efficiency and dirt-holding capacity.
Sure Grip® coating enables easy installation and removal through a non-slip finish.
Engineered for conventional and synthetic oil types.
Internally lubricated sealing gasket for easier filter removal.
2. Tough Guard Spin-on Oil Filter
Part numbers: TG16
Designed for premium conventional and synthetic oil.
Gives an extraordinary dirt-trapping efficiency of 99%.*
The combination of synthetic fibers with cellulose boosts the dirt-trapping efficiency and its dirt-holding capacity for higher levels of elongated life of the filter and safety of the engine.
Tough Guard is the perfect filter for drivers who push their vehicles in stop-and-go traffic, towing, and extreme weather conditions.
An internally lubricated sealing gasket helps in easier filter removal.
An anti-drain-back valve having 3X hot oil resistance helps in providing engine start-up protection.
A precision coil spring with a glass fiber reinforced nylon poppet relief valve is also present.
Sure Grip® coating enables easy installation and removal through a non-slip finish.
For more information and detailed product lines, visit our FRAM Filters - Oil Filter Section.
Mann Oil Filter
Advantages of Mann-filter Oil Filters
Optimum protection for the engine
Pressure-resistant and anti-corrosion protected spin-on filter housing
Long-life filter media
Long-life sealing rings
Non-return stop membrane made of high-quality silicone
Teflon-coated bypass valves
Fast filter change with practical release devices
1. Metal-free Oil Filter Element
10 filter elements have been specially developed for use in modern engines.
Designed for high dirt holding capacity, our filter inserts can cope with intensive use and deliver superb results.
The most modern filter media prolong service intervals and will continue to meet the technical requirements of high-performance engines in future.
A non-return membrane: the membrane retains the engine oil in the oil module as soon as the engine stops. This offers an even faster and thus optimized oil supply when starting the engine.
The filter elements also impress through being environmentally friendly and conserving resources
2. Spin-on Lubricating Oil Filter
First-class quality and problem-free handling. The housing and filter element of the spin-on filter form a perfectly coordinated unit, which is fully replaced during maintenance.
Return stop valve: ensures that the filter and oil channels do not empty when the engine is switched off and that oil is readily available when the engine is started.
Bypass valve: ensures that oil is available when the engine is cold started or when the service interval has been significantly exceeded and the oil filter is very dirty.
Release devices: enable quick and easy removal of the spin-on oil filter.
For more information and detailed product lines, visit our Mann Filter- Oil filter Section.
K & N Engineering Oil Filter
A. Standard Oil FIlters
High flow filter designed to improve performance
Designed for synthetic and conventional oils
Premium filtration media for increased capacity
Helps improve engine performance by reducing oil filter restriction
Fluted Canister: Designed for easy installation and removal with a traditional oil filter wrench.
Available for both canister and cartridge filter applications.
B. Premium Oil Filters:
Wrench-off® Design: A durable one-inch nut is welded to the top of the canister for easy removal using a standard wrench or socket.
Heavy-duty: A heavy-duty canister and base plate with double-rolled seal help provide outstanding durability and long-life performance.
Pre-drilled Nut: The nut is pre-drilled for safety wire attachment in racing or extreme conditions.
Oil Compatible: Compatible with synthetic, conventional, and blended motor oils.
Designed to allow high flow rates and a consistent flow of oil to your engine
Pleated synthetic-blend filtration media removes most harmful contaminants
Laboratory tested to ensure excellent capacity, efficiency, and mechanical strength
For more information and detailed product lines, visit our K & N Engineering - Oil Filter Section.
Wix Oil Filter
An innovator in filtration products since 1930, WIX has a wide range of filtration products to cater to the needs of all everyone.
The filter media, valves, springs, housings, and other filter elements work well in the most difficult operating conditions.
The valves in WIX Filters oil filters are designed according to individual requirements, so the filter always functions properly in the oil system.
Modern plastic elements enabled to reduce the mass of the filter and facilitate its disposal while maintaining high-quality filtration.
Spin on filter was invented by engineers at the WIX Filters Laboratory in 1954, and has become a world standard since.
In WIX filters, they use innovative materials which give exceptional filtration efficiency while ensuring the best performance.
The double rolled connection of the cover plate with the filter canister withstands a wide range of static and dynamic pressures. This ensures that total air tightness of the filter is maintained.
WIX filters are also galvanised and powder coated, making them corrosion resistant. They maintain their shape and properties even under the heaviest conditions.
The spring tightly adheres to the surface without damaging the filter, even after prolonged use. The correct adherence of the element to the cover plate prevents leakage.
For more information and detailed product lines, visit our WIX- Oil filter Section.
Purezone Oil Filter
Provide good engine protection using conventional motor oil for everyday normal driving conditions such as city and highway travel.
Recommended for traditional oil and filter change intervals, typically 3,000 to 5,000 miles. (5,000 to 8,000 kilometers).
95% efficient at 29 microns (Based on Purezone 8-51356, 8-57060, 8-51515) Laboratory Test Performance per ISO 454812 13 grams dirt (8-51515)
For more information and detailed product lines, visit our Purezone - Oil Filter Section.
What Are The Warning Signs Of A Bad Oil Filter?
Noticeable Oil Leaks
Dripping oil is never a healthy sign. There has to be some failure in the system which caused a pool of oil beneath your car. This happens when a filter bursts due to the effects of temperature change. This is a case of a typical gasket failure which leads to a drop in oil pressure. Low oil pressure poses a significant threat to the engine.
Engine Check Light
A failed filter allows contaminated oil to enter the engine. As they build up enough, they cause malfunctions by causing damage to the system inside. This triggers the engine light on. The modern cars are equipped with a low oil pressure light, if either of the lights is illuminated, it is a possible oil filter failure.
Unusual Sounds / Overheating
There could be many reasons causing it, but filter failure is one of them. With the build-up of contaminants inside the engine, it could severely affect the heat conductivity resulting in temperatures exceeding normal. The movement of such contaminants could also cause unusual sounds from the engine. If the engine shows any of this, it is time for an overall check-up.
On a vehicle where a fuel filter has never been changed, the dirty filter can cause erratic fuel flow, resulting in longer than usual cranking before the engine starts. Check your owner’s manual on filter replacement intervals.
An engine that repeatedly stalls while driving could be warning you of a dirty fuel filter. Again, depending on the severity of the clog, your car may start right back up without any noticeable loss of power.
When Should I Replace My Oil Filter?
An oil filter is no exception from going through the hassle of replacing. Periodic replacement of the filter is necessary to ensure the smooth functioning of your vehicle. Since the filter prevents the contaminants from entering the engine, it is important to replace it from time to time to avoid the filtered contaminants from building up and ultimately clogging the filter. The ideal time to replace a filter is during the oil change. It is advisable to consult your local trusted mechanic for the replacement period.
How Much Does An Oil Filter Cost On An Average?
The answer to this question could be broken down into three ranges.
1. Less than $10: It will not be one of the finest qualities, but it serves the basic purpose of being an oil filter. You would end up changing such filters more often than its more expensive siblings.
2. $10 - $15: You can find a good quality oil filter in this price bracket. These filters are better and last longer than the cheaper ones, therefore, bringing down the overall cost you would be spending on filters in a lifetime.
3. Above $15: You are most likely to find the highest quality filters at this price along with enticing features. They utilize the best materials because of which they withstand high temperature and pressure.