What would happen if you ended up using the wrong oil filter? The abrasive contaminants in your engine oil would have a field day. With no filter to sift them from the oil, they could chip off other bits of metal and cause erosion inside the engine. That, in turn, might force you to have a total engine revamp.
That is the worst-case scenario. The more likely scenarios include a notable decrease in your car’s mileage, an increase in its engine noise, and more frequent trips to the mechanic. And we haven’t mentioned the time and money you’d have to spend to get your car back to its best.
Assuming you’d want to avoid all this, we recommend you use the best oil filter for your car. Apart from preventing everything mentioned in the previous paragraphs, it would keep your car running smoothly. So you won’t have any reason to go to the mechanic.
Go through our oil filter reviews to know more.
Best Oil Filter Reviews (Recommended Picks)
1. Bosch 3974 Premium FILTECH Oil Filter
Coming from a brand that is among the leading oil filter manufacturers in the world, the Premium Oil Filter provides world-class service. It is equipped with FILTECH synthetic media which provides a dual-layer of filtration to remove all the contaminants from your engine oil.
The first layer is responsible for sifting out particles whose size is either equal to or above 30 microns. The second layer, meanwhile, is a thin wire mesh. Clamping the sieving membrane, it doesn’t allow minute particles to permeate through it and harm the engine.
Yet another strong point of this model is its sturdiness. Its robust steel base plates, as well as the outer shell, prevent poor fit, leakage and warping. Also present is a silicone-made anti-return valve which ensures the continuous supply of oil all the time in which the engine is running.
2. Mobil 1 M1-110 / M1-110A Extended Performance Oil Filter
The Mobil 1 M1-110 is a spin-on cartridge filter which can be installed in less than ten minutes. It uses a synthetic fiber blend as its filter media, and boasts an efficiency rating of 99.6%. Also, since this product has multiple-passes, you can count on them to remove the tiniest of contaminants from your oil.
What is more, the 28 grams total contaminant capacity of this model empowers it to last longer than the competition. The ruggedness of its outer casing is another area where this filter really shines. It is capable of withstanding 615PPSI pressure without giving way or permitting leakages.
On top of everything else, the absence of moving parts means that this filter can operate without any lubrication. That’s a huge benefit because you don’t have to spend much time on its maintenance. Just a few wipes with your cleaning cloth would be enough to keep this model in working condition.
3. Motorcraft FL2051S Oil Filter
Three features of the Motorcraft FL2051S oil filter help make it a stand out performer. First, it has a pressure relief valve that not only eliminates the possibility of any excess oil coming back inside the engine but also ensures that, even in cold temperatures, the supply of oil remains continuous.
Second, its durable steel casing as well as rugged base plates increase the shelf life of this oil filter. Also, the ‘ironing’ of the steel kit makes it easy to install. It is also painted (to keep rust at bay) and has a fluted upper surface which makes the filter easy to remove.
Thirdly, its extra-fine filter media will screen out most abrasives that could get into your oil. Among them are carbon specks, dust and sand particles as well as bits of metal. The slightly larger-than-usual surface area of the filter media signifies that the dirt-holding capacity of this product is above-average.
4. Mann-Filter HU 816 X Metal-Free Oil Filter
In contrast to the impression its meager price tag might convey, this oil filter cuts no corners in its design and performance. In fact, as a mere glance at its round filter media would tell, the surface area of this model is larger-than-average. That means that it can hold more dirt despite costing less.
To take full advantage of its extra-large surface area, its manufacturer has provided this oil filter with a pleated-paper filter media. This arrangement means that the entirety of the filter’s surface – and not just its inner channels – would contribute towards the removal of contaminants.
Apart from that, no metal has been used in the construction of this product. That factor might not have a tangible effect on its performance, but it does have an impact on the surrounding environment. That’s because it won’t produce ash if you decide to dispose of this filter using a combustion process.
5. FRAM TG7317 Tough Guard Passenger Car Spin-On Oil Filter
Most mechanics tell you that 5,000 miles is the maximum mileage an oil filter can provide. Most mechanics, as it turns out, haven’t come across the TG7317 Filter. This product is guaranteed to keep on removing contaminants from your oil for a whopping 10,000 miles.
What’s more, despite having an above-average shelf-life, this oil filter has a below-average price tag. In fact, once you compare its asking price with other models in this review, you’d find out that this oil filter has the 2nd or 3rd lowest price of them all!
That even though it has a silicone anti-drain back valve whose name indicates its purpose. Also present is an anti-slip texture which makes changing this filter a child’s play. Its 99% dirt-trapping efficiency is yet another feature using which this product contradicts its measly price tag.
6. ACDelco PF2232 Professional Engine Oil Filter
Starting with a glance at its design, this oil filter uses cellulose media to trap contaminants. It is capable of removing contaminants as small as 1/3rd of the width of human hair. Supporting the media is a thermosetting adhesive seal that can withstand both high and low temperatures.
Unfortunately, the polished outer shell of this model acts as a double-edged sword. On the one end, it makes the filter difficult to grip – especially once it’s installed. That’s why we recommend that you use a wrench to remove this filter.
On the shiny side, the presence of paint on its exterior guards this oil filter against rust. Separately, it boasts a considerable burst strength – which is the maximum pressure a filter can withhold without bursting. That means that you can trust this model to keep cleaning oil at high temperatures.
Best Oil Filters Comparison Chart
Bosch 3974 Premium FILTECH Oil Filter
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Mobil 1 M1-110 / M1-110A Extended Performance Oil Filter
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Motorcraft FL2051S Oil Filter
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Mann-Filter HU 816 X Metal-Free Oil Filter
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FRAM TG7317 Tough Guard Passenger Car Spin-On Oil Filter
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ACDelco PF2232 Professional Engine Oil Filter
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Oil Filter Buying Guide
Are you aware that not every oil filter on the market is suitable for your car? Picking the wrong one can lead to oil leaks, low oil pressure, and (of course) poor oil filtration. That means you need to be sure that the oil filter you’re about to purchase was made for your car.
In case you’re wondering, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to do that. All you have to do is juxtapose the size and model number of your current oil filter with those of the replacement model. Both of them should either be listed on the side of the filter, or you can find them on the instruction manual.
Once you have made sure that the new filter has the same size and model number as the one it’s going to replace, use the selection criteria in this buying guide to select the best product for your car.
What to Consider When Buying Oil Filter?
Following are the questions you need to ask yourself before selecting an oil filter:
It’s a substance which the filter is going to employ to remove contaminants from your oil. Below mentioned are the four most commonly-used filtration media.
Made of pleated filter paper, this filtration media separates contaminants from oil by adsorbing them on its surface. To better understand their functioning, think of them like a sieve. While they let oil pass through them, the dirt and debris continue to build-up on their external surface.
Such an arrangement has its positive and negative points. Filters who have this sieve-like media are generally inexpensive. However, as contaminants continue to build up, the flow of oil is affected. For this reason, you’d need to replace mechanical filter media more often.
Require frequent replacement
As their name implies, such filters use magnets or electromagnets as their filtration media. The reason behind this is that most contaminants inside the oil are attracted to the magnet. As a result, once the fuel passes through this media, the pollutants will deposit themselves on its surface.
Not everything is aboveboard about this filtration media, though. Since it is reusable, you’d have to manually clean the dirt particles off of the surface of the magnet. For this reason, if you aren’t a stickler for filter cleaning, the pollutants can clog the surface of the magnet and might cause engine trouble.
Difficult to clean
Sediment oil filtration media doesn’t have any specific component to filter oil. Instead, they rely on gravity to do all the work. Upon the entry of oil inside these filters, the debris goes down due to its weight, whereas the clean oil rises up through the gravity bed.
Unfortunately, sedimentation isn’t the most reliable way to remove contaminants from the oil. Since the fuel enters and leaves filters at a considerable speed and pressure, there’s not enough time for pollutants to settle down. As a result, some of the contaminants might evade the pull of gravity and escape.
Does well at separating large pollutants
Not the most efficient
Have you ever rotated a bucket full of water? Then you must have seen how the water stuck to the walls as you were moving the bucket around. That’s the same principle on which centrifugal filters work.
As the oil enters these filters, their design forces it to rotate inside its housing at a considerable speed. While the oil leaves the housing at the end of the cycle, the contaminants, due to their relatively heavyweight, remain stuck to the walls.
Filter the smallest of pollutants
Housing requires frequent cleaning
Material of Filter
The material which a filter is made of plays an essential part in its performance.
Cellulose filters are disposable and can trap particles within the 8 to 10 microns range. This range isn’t that big, which is why these products can only clean up to 40% of your oil.
Also, the particles they remove tend to clog their upper surface, necessitating the replacement of the filter every 3,500 miles.
Also known as synthetic filters, they are usually made from nylon, glass, or polyester. They have a better capacity than cellulose filters and can remove the smallest of impurities from the fluid.
As for their shelf life, these filters last 5,000 to 6,000 miles before requiring replacement.
Most high-end oil filters are made of micro-glass. The fibers which make this filter media are almost 10 times finer than cellulose fibers. You can, therefore, count on this media to remove the finest of dirt particles.
They also last up to 10,000 miles before needing replacement, though micro-glass filters are super-expensive.
5 Important Features and Specs of Car Oil Filters
Following are the features and specs which are a must-have for the top-rated oil filters
Measured in miles and influenced by its media and material of construction, a filter’s mileage determines the number of miles you’d be able to keep on using it before needing a replacement. The best models have mileages in excess of 5,000 miles.
Easy to Use:
Oil filters which are easy-to-use allow you to replace them on your own, regardless of your expertise with cars. They also come with installation instructions for those who haven’t replaced a filter before.
Compatibility with Oil Type:
As you might already know, petrol cars require different oil filters than their diesel counterparts. The same, however, cannot be said for vehicles that use either synthetic or conventional oil.
Low Micron Rating:
The lower the micron rating of your filter, the more efficient it would be at removing smaller contaminants from your oil. Any micron rating below 10 is an indication that the filter will protect your engine from most contaminants.
High Dirt-Holding Capacity:
Your filter’s dirt-holding capacity influences but is not the same as its mileage. It merely tells you the amount/weight of contaminants that the filter can bear before it would stop working.
Types of Oil Filters
Apart from those mentioned above, here are some other types of oil filters:
Primary Oil Filters
Installed before the inlet from where the oil would go inside the engine, these filters filter 100% of the motor oil. Since they have to deal with large volumes of oil, they pose little flow restrictions. Another reason why these pose little restriction to oil flow is their utility in colder temperatures.
As oil thickens when the mercury drops, any oil filter with restrictions in its design can choke the flow of oil and damage the engine. Unfortunately, their lax attitude towards the passage of oil makes primary oil filter more prone to letting smaller contaminant pieces pass through.
Secondary Oil Filters
Manufacturers of high-end vehicles use secondary oil filters to make sure that dust and debris which might have escaped primary oil filters don’t end up inside the engine. These filters filter about 5% to 10% of the motor oil before rerouting it into the engine.
Provided your car does have this filter, you won’t have to replace its motor oil frequently. Though you need to know that these filters don’t work in series with their primary counterparts. Instead, they remove contaminants independently.
Cartridge and Spin-On
Such filters consist of two main parts: a replaceable filter media and permanent housing. They boast a spin-on design which makes them easy-to-install. All of their components, including the self-contained housing, are replaceable.
Since these filters vary in their design and their filter-media, it isn’t possible to give a description of all of those types. Provided you’re going to use these filters, make sure your model is made of synthetic materials – as they last longer than cardboard, filter paper, and cellulose models.
Synthetic Oil Filters Vs. Regular Oil Filters
At the cost of sounding repetitive, the use of the word ‘synthetic’ doesn’t mean that synthetic oil filters are meant for, well, synthetic oil. It only tells us that these filters are made of synthetic materials. Whether or not you’re going to use them for synthetic oil is your choice. There’s no compulsion whatsoever.
Having explained this point, let’s look at how synthetic oil filters compare with the regular ones.
- Contaminant Removal:
When it comes to the removal of small contaminants, synthetic oil filters do a better job. That means that a vehicle using a synthetic oil filter would require less frequent oil changes.
- Shelf life:
While these filters have a longer shelf life than cellulose-made filters, they last less long than micro-glass ones. For instance, while synthetic filters last 5,000 to 7,000 miles, those made of fiberglass last up to 10,000 miles.
- High-temperature working:
Synthetic filters rule the roost when it comes to working at higher temperatures. The main reason behind this is the restrictive membrane that is used in their design, and which can withstand above-room-temperatures with ease.
- Low-temperature functionality:
Have you spent time choosing a tire pressure gauge of late? Even if you haven’t, you might know that those units can perform at low temperatures. Similar is the case with regular oil filters. However, those made of synthetic materials don’t have the porosity to let go of thicker oils.
- Asking price:
Synthetic oil filters cost more than those made of cellulose. However, they are less expensive than micro-glass filters. That’s mainly because, on the whole, the performance of synthetic filters fall between cellulose and micro-glass models.
What does the Oil Filter Do?
Let’s start from the beginning. The main reason why your car needs an engine is to convert fuel into energy that will then power your vehicle. While the process is too complicated to explain within this article, one thing is clear about it: it involves a lot of moving pieces.
To remain in an upright condition, all these moving parts need to be lubricated by motor oil. What if the oil that is supposed to lubricate them contains contaminants? Won’t those contaminants rub against these moving parts and cause wear and tear?
What would happen once the wear and tear has occurred? You guessed it; the performance of the moving parts would most likely suffer a drop. The interconnectedness of the entire process means that once these parts start to perform poorly, your car’s engine will also start feeling the effect.
The oil filters stop this (unwanted) process in its tracks by removing any dirt, debris, or metal fragments that might have tricked their way inside the oil. It is essential for the proper functioning of your car’s engine as well as other moving parts that lay under the hood.
Don’t forget that the best floor jack is an essential tool to keep around in your garage!
Why Your Oil Filter is so Important
Follow are the benefits of oil filters:
- Protects the engine
The main reason why people invest in oil filters is to protect their car’s engine. These products don’t let abrasive particles that may have gotten inside the oil to get through and cause wearing inside the engine.
- Maintains quality of the oil
Since they remove foreign particles from the oil, filters help maintain the quality of engine oil. That’s extremely important as the same oil is then going to lubricate other vital components under the hood.
- Improves vehicle’s efficiency
Once you turn off the engine, its filter would prevent some of the oil from draining down to the bottom. Then, once you restart the engine, the oil kept at the top would automatically start lubrication. This empowers your vehicle to start quickly and efficiently.
Parts of an Oil Filter
Here is a quick overview of components of an oil filter:
On the Outside:
The oil filters in petrol vehicles have rugged outer shells that you can grip with hand or filter wrench. Their solidity allows you to snug the filters up tightly into the desired place. However, since diesel vehicles house their oil filters in permanent canisters, their oil filters do not have a hard outer shell.
Regardless of the type of vehicle it is made for, the outer shell of an oil filter performs two crucial functions. First, it acts as a barrier between the external elements and the inside media. Second, it contains those dirt and debris particles which are removed from the oil by its inner filter media.
While the outer-facing side of the filter is fully closed by the shell, the one that faces the engine is obviously open to allow the ingress of engine oil. That part where the filter connects to the engine is where the seal is present to prevent leakages.
However, all filters don’t use the same type of seals. While most of them use a rubber gasket, some have a mechanism that keeps on lubricating the gasket to improve its performance level. There is a third type of seals that snugs tightly once it comes into contact with hot oil from the inside.
On the Inside:
Filter media is that part of the filter which removes contaminants that might be suspended in the oil. A fabricated synthetic material or pleated paper are usually used in the construction of filter media. Both of these materials differ when it comes to efficiency.
For instance, if the filter media of your model is made of pleated paper, you can expect it to provide an efficiency of up to 98%. Synthetic filter media go one up by removing 99% of contaminants that are sometimes suspended in the engine oil.
In some cases, your engine oil might contain metal particles in suspended form. These tiny specks are incredibly damaging to the engine as their pointed shape allows them to cause more wear and tear than most other contaminants which are commonly found in engine oil.
The filter’s magnet acts as its guard against the same metal particles by attracting them toward its upper surface even if they escape the oil filter.
Located at the inlet of the oil filter, it prevents the oil from coming back and draining out when the engine isn’t running. Hence the reason why some people refer to it as the ‘anti-drain back’ valve. It’s the same that you saw in some products in our tire inflator reviews – the one which didn’t let the air go back.
Due to the constant build-up of contaminants on the filter media, the flow of oil might be impeded. If the build-up is too excessive, the filter media might get totally blocked and prevent the flow of oil from the filter and into the engine.
This scenario is deadly for the engine as the pressure generated by the blocked oil might be capable of blowing it. The relief valve makes sure this scenario never happens. When it feels that the pressure inside the filter is too high, it opens and lets the oil bypass the filter media.
In this way, it makes sure that the oil keeps flowing freely. True, that oil might not be as clean as the one that would have come out of filter media. But the mere fact that it will be flowing is essential for the health of your engine.
Car Filters: To Clean or To Replace?
Your car has three filters: oil, fuel, and air. Since all these filters would need replacement when the time eventually comes, it’s good to know the signs that indicate that the filter might be failing.
Signs That Something Is Amiss
Following are the symptoms that there might be a problem with your oil filter:
Engine producing unusual sounds
Dipstick lubricated with gritty, dark, or black oil
Check engine light coming on
Check oil light coming on
Clean or Replace?
The main reason why most people don’t take the hassle of cleaning their oil filter is that it’s coated with layers of exceedingly-dirty oil. For this reason, we recommend that you replace your oil filter at every oil change.
Signs That Something Is Amiss
If your car’s air filter is starting to go bad, it might show the following symptoms:
Decreased fuel efficiency
Filthy spark plugs
Check engine light coming on
Misfiring while starting the engine
Clean or Replace?
In contrast to your car’s oil filters, its air filters can be cleaned a few times before you’d have to eventually replace them. You can clean the air filter with either a damp cloth or a blower. That said, air filters aren’t an expensive commodity, so if you notice their condition is beyond repair, replace them.
Signs That Something Is Amiss
Here are some of the symptoms of a failing fuel filter:
Problems starting the engine
Car stalling when driving
Clean or Replace?
Like the oil filter, you’d be better served by replacing the fuel filter than trying to clean it. Unlike it, however, fuel filters don’t need replacement after a specific period. You only have to purchase a new fuel filter once a) you’re noticing any of the above-mentioned problems and b) a qualified mechanic tells you that it is the filter and not anything else that is responsible for the problem.
Changing Your Oil Filter – All You Need To Know
Here are some questions that you may have in mind about changing your oil filter:
Why does My Oil Filter Need Regular Replacement?
As you continue to use your oil filter, its filtration media, which is responsible for trapping innumerable contaminant particles, will get more clogged. It will then reduce the flow rate of oil passing through the filter and entering the engine, thereby forcing you to replace the oil filter.
When to Your Change Oil Filter
Ask this question to three different mechanics, and you’d likely hear three different answers. While some of them would recommend that you replace the oil filter with every oil change, others would give you a time frame or mileage after which you should replace them. There might be others who would ask you to take the weather in your area into consideration.
To resolve this confusion, here are some tips as to how often you should change your oil filter:
- With Every Oil Change
If you’re driving an age-old vehicle whose engine isn’t efficient at filtering debris, you might have to change its filter with every oil change. On average, that means you’d need a new filter after every 3,000 miles.
- Service Engine Light Goes Off
When the service engine light goes off, most people assume that the worst has happened. They dread that the engine needs a major overhaul. While that might be the case, it is also possible that the replacement of the oil filter will turn the light off.
- Driving in Extreme Conditions
If your regular driving route comprises of testing weather conditions or extreme temperatures, you might have to replace the oil filter earlier than 3,000 miles. That’s because the engine has to work harder in severe conditions, thereby requiring frequent replacement of its parts.
How to Remove & Replace an Oil Filter in 8 Steps
Follow these steps to remove and replace your oil filter:
- Step 1: Start the Engine
The reason why you need to start your engine is that the draining rate of warm oil is faster than that of cold oil. Turn off the engine after a couple of minutes as you don’t want to get the oil too hot.
- Step 2: Drive Your Car Over a Ramp
You should be able to easily get under the car as it’s parked over the ramp. Apply the brakes, and if the slope is too steep, you might steady the wheels by placing chucks behind them.
- Step 3: Locate the oil Drain Plug
Once you have found where it is, place a liquid collecting pan below the plug. Then use a socket wrench to loosen the plug.
- Step 4: Unscrew by Hand
As you are unscrewing the plug, keep it pushed back toward the opening to prevent the oil from guzzling out. Once you’re sure the oil won’t squirt out, fully remove the plug from the inlet. Give the oil all the time it would take to fully drain from the plug.
- Step 5: Replace the Oil Plug
Do the exact opposite of what is mentioned in the previous step. First, tighten the oil plug by hand and then use a wrench to tighten it.
- Step 6: Remove the Oil Filter
Use the filter wrench to loosen the oil filter before removing it by hand. Once you’ve removed it, use a damp cloth to clean the part of the engine where the oil filter was attached.
- Step 7: Install New Filter and Add Oil
Screw the new filter by hand and then tighten it using the wrench. Then pour in the type and amount of filter oil as specified in your vehicle’s instruction manual. Put on the cap when you have added the specified amount of oil.
- Final Step:
Run the engine and do precautionary checks.
After running the engine, look for leaks. If there are none, check the oil level. Remove the dipstick from its inlet, wipe it clean and then insert it again. Take it out back and monitor if there is a layer of oil up to the ‘’full mark”. If it isn’t, you might have to add more oil.
FAQ’s and Answers
- Q: Can you use an oil filter designed for conventional oil with synthetic oil?
A: Categorically speaking, almost all the oil filters on the market can be used with both synthetic as well as conventional oil. They aren’t specifically made for one or the other.
- Q: How oil filter works?
A: Oil filters have a hole in their base plate which serves as an entry point to the oil from the engine. From there, the dirty oil is driven under the force of pressure through the filter media where the contaminants are separated from the oil. Once the oil is clean, it is pushed back through the central hole where the filter is connected with the engine, before reentering the engine.
- Q: What happens if you don’t change the oil filter on time?
A: If you don’t change your oil filter on time, the multiple layers of contaminants on the filter media might block the passage of oil. That would force the opening of the bypass valve, which, in turn, would let the unfiltered oil into the engine. Since this oil would contain contaminants, its entry into the engine for long would affect the engine’s performance.
- Q: What are the symptoms of a bad oil filter?
Ever noticed that the ‘pick’ of your car goes up every time you change its filter? How its rolling resistance nosedives and the mileage increases after its filter’s replacement? While most of these changes are too small to notice, they do affect the engine’s and, by extension, your car’s performance.
That means that if you want your car to perform optimally for years to come, you must use the best oil filter. By removing contaminants and supplying clean oil to the engine, the filter would preserve the integrity of the engine.
And as you can guess by going through our oil filter reviews, you don’t have to spend a fortune on every filter change. Even the highest-rated filters cost peanuts. Therefore, once the mileage is up and you notice that your car could do with an oil filter change, don’t hesitate.