As oil runs through an engine, it naturally picks up debris, metal particles and other contaminants. Over time, the oil is bound to get increasingly dirtier; hence it gradually loses its ability to clean and lubricate your engine, eventually leading to permanent damage. That means you need a reliable unit from the best oil filter brand to clean your oil and keep your car purring like it's still brand new.
If oil is the lifeblood that keeps your engine running, it only follows that the oil filter is the kidneys. Changing your oil and filter regularly makes all the difference between an engine that runs clean for several hundreds of thousands of miles and one that is sludged up to the brim with broken metal bits. In other words, engine oil is what keep's your vehicle's engine ticking smoothly, like a well-oiled machine -as they say.
Unfortunately, not all oil filters are created equal. So, we've filtered out the inferior ones and put together a comprehensive guide on the best oil filter brand, plus their respective top products.
How Does an Oil Filter Work?
Just as kidneys filter toxins out of your blood, an oil filter removes debris, metal shards and particulates from your car's engine oil. Motor oil enters the filter through the tiny holes in the tapping plate. It then moves through the filter media (the actual filtering element) and returns to the engine through the larger central hole on the tapping plate.
There's a bit more to the oil filter that affects the engine. For instance, a typical oil filter has an anti-drain back valve that closes when the engine is not running. It stops the oil from flowing back to the engine when it's stationary.
Oil filters also have a relief valve. It bypasses the filter and only opens in cold conditions when it's more difficult to start the engine. It puts a bit of unfiltered oil straight into the engine to help jerk the engine, say on cold mornings.
You'll also find two end discs at either end of the oil filter, made of either metal or fiber. These prevent motor oil from escaping the filter and running back into the engine without having been filtered.
Why Should You Invest in a Good Oil Filter?
It's pretty straightforward why you need a good oil filter for your car, the same way you need your kidneys operating at optimum to filter out toxins from your blood efficiently. To put it into better perspective, an effective oil filter:
1. Extends Engine Lifespan
The engine's motor requires clean oil circulating inside it to run at peak performance. A top-quality oil filter prevents dirt and other contaminants from reaching the engine's internal parts. This prolongs the engine's life and power.
2. Protects against Oil Oxidation
Car oil is constantly oxidizing, no matter how good or bad the road conditions you drive in are. Oxidation introduces even more contaminants to the oil, consequently reducing its efficiency. A good oil filter prevents these contaminants from reaching the engine's internals while protecting the motor against damage.
3. Prevents Engine Heat Spike
Low-quality oil is a common cause of engine overheating. When impurities and dirt in the oil build up, they can wear down the engine and knock down its heat conductivity. A good oil filter keeps the engine components properly lubricated with pure oil, thus preventing the engine from overheating.
What is the best oil filter?
It's almost impossible to talk ab0ut the auto industry without mentioning German engineering. It's considered a class (or more) above the rest, something Bosch has shown since the 19th century. The company has been producing top-of-the-line products for 100+ years and has become the world's largest supplier of automotive components in the process. Therefore, you would be absolutely right to believe they know what they're doing when it comes to motor oil filters.
Bosch Premium FILTECH Oil Filter
- Bosch recommends the use of Castrol motor oil
- Exclusive FILTECH media technology screens out more harmful...
- Strong steel base plates and housings prevent warpage, leaks, and...
- Silicone anti-drainback valve ensures a supply of clean oil when...
- High lubricity gasket design provides a tight seal, yet allows...
The Bosch 3330 FILTECH comes with superb media screens that filter out all harmful pollutants while also protecting your engine. It's designed with sturdy steel base plates and housings to prevent leaks, warpage and poor fitting. This also includes a silicone anti-drain back valve.
The filter also ensures there's a good supply of oil whenever the engine is starting. The highly lubricated gasket is designed to seal tightly and firmly while also being easy to remove. On top of that, the 3330 FILTECH also features double-locked rolled seams that transform into a usable leak-free canister. This is arguably the best oil filter you can get for your vehicle.
K&N is widely known for its high-performance products, particularly racing and trucking. Their oil filters are no different, specifically built for high-performance vehicles that require a high oil flow rate, mostly for high-speed situations.
K&N Performance Gold Oil Filter
- HIGH FLOW RATES: Designed to provide exceptional flow rates and a...
- VERSATILE COMPATIBILITY: Designed to operate with all synthetic,...
- PROTECT YOUR ENGINE: Pleated synthetic-blend filtration media...
- EXTENSIVELY TESTED: Laboratory tested to ensure excellent...
- EASY TO REMOVE: Fast and easy Wrench-Off removal
The K&N HP-1017 is another solid contender for the best oil filter, one that's designed to perform exceptionally well, particularly in cold and harsh weather conditions. It offers equally remarkable performance in cases of high flow rates as well as assured durability. Furthermore, the hex nut welded at the top ensures the filter is properly sealed, whilst it can also be easily wrenched using any standard tool.
This filter features a unique anti-drain back valve that prevents dry starts, making for easy and quick starts. Its rolled thread also makes it simple to install or cut down stripping. It's built to last, resistant t rocks, debris or attacks, making it ideal with long life and synthetic motor oils.
Motorcraft is the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) for oil filters in a couple of leading car manufacturers, including Ford, Lincoln and Mercury model cars. The company is evidently trusted by leading brands in the automotive industry, as well as the people driving the cars, and for good reason: Motorcraft offers well-engineered, reliable and affordable oil filters.
Motorcraft FL2016 Oil Filter
- Fit Type: Vehicle Specific
- Part number: FL2016
- Included components: Oil Filter
- Oem equivalent part number: FL2016
Motorcraft oil filters are designed to meet Ford's high-quality standards. The FL2016 features a pressure relief valve that ensures contaminated oil doesn't circulate back into the engine. It even prevents clogging in extremely cold weather conditions by maintaining a steady oil flow in the engine.
Durability is just as excellent, featuring a steel outer casing with painting to both fit properly and stay rust-resistant. The filter is extremely effective in capturing and collecting dirt and particles, thanks to powerful filter media. More so, the solid anti-drain back valve ensures oil never drains out.
ACDelco is owned by General Motors. The brand has also been around for over a century, making its name for offering capable units built to last. It's, therefore, unsurprising that you'll find automotive brands such as Chevrolet, GMC, Cadillac and Buick all sporting ACDelco factory parts.
ACDelco Professional Engine Oil Filter
- Equipped with 98 percent multi pass filtering efficiency at 25 to...
- Has a cellulose media that traps particles 1/3 the width of human...
- Has a thermosetting adhesive seal to hold filtering media in...
- Equipped with a superior filter capacity, enhanced efficiency,...
- Has a burst strength five times greater than most engine oil...
The ACDelco PF2232 comes with a 98% multi-pass filtering efficiency at 25 to 30 microns filtering capacity: In short, it's an excellent, high-quality oil filter. It features cellulose media, capable of trapping particles as small as 1/3 of the width of human hair. That means it can filter virtually anything thrown its way, ensuring that the engine's oil has absolutely no debris.
It also sports a thermosetting adhesive seal that helps in holding the filter in place. Its impressive filter capacity is designed to offer consistent flow management and durability; its burst strength is five times stronger than conventional oil filters. That means it can withstand any operating pressure once the oil attains the operating temperature, making it remarkably durable.
Purolator - a portmanteau derived from 'pure oil later'- has been around for 90+ years, continually developing and offering some of the best oil filters on the market. Their components are made from premium materials, built to withstand all the rigors of day-to-day use. In the last century or so, the brand has continually guaranteed reliability, durability and affordability to its clientele.
Purolator PL14612 Oil Filter
- Optimizes engine life for up to 10,000 miles (when used with a...
- 99% dirt removal power
- High-density synthetic blend media
- Silicone anti-drainback valve that lasts longer than traditional...
- Metal end caps and center tube provide stability and integrity...
The Purolator PL14612 can eliminate up to 99% of dirt, allowing the engine to maintain a stable and high performance. The manufacturer posits that the filter increases engine life to up to 10,000-mile drives. This is an oil filter designed to push the engine to perform at its peak.
It features wear-resistant metal end caps and filter media made from a high-density synthetic blend. That means it can retain its filtering power even during an oil change, making it well suited to almost all driving conditions, favorable or harsh. When combined with high mileage and synthetic oils, the PL14612 delivers an immense level of performance and protection to your engine.
1. Royal Purple
Royal Purple is an American company that specializes in lubricants for multiple types of vehicles. The company has been on the block since 1986, a relatively shorter time than the other big boys. Nevertheless, they've carved their name in the auto landscape, building a massive and loyal fan base thanks to their top-quality products. With their Extended Life Oil Filter, they have further demonstrated why they are one of the leading auto-care manufacturers.
Royal Purple Extended Life Oil Filter
- FILTER CROSS REFERENCES: AC Delco PF53, FRAM (PH3614, TG3614,...
- VEHICLE APPLICATIONS: Chrysler/Dodge Town & Country/Caravan...
- This oil filter has 15,000-mile protection when used with full...
- Premium oil filter using all-synthetic micro-glass media to...
- Durable, silicone-constructed, anti-drain back valve to prevent...
The Royal Purple Extended Life Oil Filter comes with a thicker shell that makes it stronger than its competitors. It's built with metal end caps that ensure it seals the filter firmly and nicely. The filter's center tube also prevents it from collapsing when in use.
The filter media is made from 100% screen-back synthetic material, providing excellent filtration for engine oil. The filter also features a heavy-gauge steel backplate that is especially necessary for higher burst strength. This is certainly worth your consideration if you're looking for a heavy-duty oil filter.
- Built for heavy-duty use
- Withstands heavy oil flow
- Works great in removing particles
- Helps optimize oil flow
- Works on various types of vehicles
- May or may not fit some cars
2. Mobil 1
It's hard to find anyone involved with cars (or otherwise) who hasn't heard of Mobil. The company has been around for over a century and has grown into a powerhouse in the American oil industry. For all things oil, Mobil is definitely a brand many people find themselves turning to.
Mobil 1 Extended Performance Oil Filter
- Synthetic fiber blend filter element uses advanced technology for...
- Premium lubricated filter gasket provides a tight seal and allows...
- Heavy duty filter canister withstands 9X the normal vehicle oil...
The Mobil 1 Extended Performance Oil Filter is built for long-lasting effectiveness. It features an advanced synthetic blend fiber that allows it to effectively remove any oil contaminants with a 99.6% Multi-Pass Efficiency rating. More so, it can hold up to 28 grams of contaminants, almost twice the capacity of other types of oil filters.
The Mobil 1 M1-110 can also withstand operating temperatures a whopping nine times than normal. The silicone anti-drain back valve also helps prevent dryness, mainly by eliminating any internal leakage during a shutdown.
- Superbly effective
- Lasts a long time
- Works great on leakage removal
- Works with all types of cars
- Quite expensive
- A bit lighter, which may give off a cheap feel
Types of Oil Filters
When you're looking for the best oil filter brand and product, there's a wealth of options at your disposal to choose from. As such, it's important to know the different types available to ensure you pick the right one for your vehicle's needs.
Typically, oil filters are split into two categories:
- Primary oil filters - are the most common variety, designed to filter engine oil in large volumes.
- Secondary oil filters - are typically only found in diesel engines, acting as a backup to a primary filter. Oil passes through the secondary filter for finer filtration and to catch any contaminants that may have snuck through the primary filter.
From these two categories, oil filters are further broken down into more specific types:
a). Mechanical Oil Filter
A mechanical oil filter uses a filter media made of bulk materials, such as pleated filter paper or cotton waste, to separate contaminants from engine oil. It tends to hinder oil flow as the filter media extracts dirt out of the oil. Mechanical oil filters require regular replacements, where you can either replace the entire filter or the filter media alone.
b). Cartridge and Spin-On Oil Filter
Cartridge oil filters were one of the earliest filters used in engine oil. They consist of a cartridge or permanent housing and replaceable filter media. Over time, they evolved into spin-on filters with self-contained housing and replaceable components. Spin-on filters make it significantly easier to change the filter since they're more convenient to take out and replace. Designs do vary, but most cartridge and spin-on filters are made from synthetic materials.
c). Magnetic Oil Filter
Since most particulates are made of metal, magnetic oil filters use magnets to pull them out of your engine oil. They can suspend ferromagnetic particles, thus capturing them as oil flows through the filters.
One of their biggest perks is that the collected contaminants and particles are collected neatly on the surface of the magnets. They are also comparatively easy to clean and replace. That being said, the use of magnets does pose some potential problems with the engine.
d). Sedimentation Oil Filter
Sedimentation oil filters, also known as gravity bed filters, use gravity to separate oil from sediment or contaminants. They suspend contaminants that are heavier than the oil, then pull them down to the bottom of the filter.
e). Centrifugal Oil Filter
A centrifugal oil filter works the same as a sedimentation oil filter. However, rather than removing the contaminants using the pull of gravity, they use centrifugal force. They have rotating components that spin the oil, then pull out the heavy pollutants.
Oil goes into the filter, flows through a drum motor with jet nozzles, then the drum rotates, and the contaminants stick to the filter walls. These require regular cleaning to prevent buildup or excessive sticking.
f). High Efficiency (HE) Oil Filter
An HE oil filter is a variation of bypass filters. High-efficiency oil filters have filter media with extremely tiny pores, about 3 micrometers in size, that continually filter potential contaminants as oil flows through. Their main advantage is that they allow lengthier oil drain intervals, up to 5-10 times the typical drain interval.
Factors to Consider in the Best Oil Filter
The filter media is a paper-looking element that works to clean the engine oil and remove contaminants. There are three kinds of filter media:
Synthetic filter media is typically made from nylon, polyester or glass and is arguably the most efficient since the fibers can be manufactured at a substantially smaller scale compared to large plant-based cellulose fibers. Synthetic fibers are tightly 'crisscrossed to pick up smaller dirt particles while allowing higher oil flow rates with greater capacity and durability.
The downside is synthetic media tends to be more expensive to manufacture, which raises the cost of the oil filter.
On the one hand, plant-based cellulose media is inferior to synthetic in several aspects. On the other hand, it's also cheaper and can still be built to a high filtration efficiency. It's a decent choice to add to inexpensive oil filters.
Cellulose media also has a few innate advantages, such as performing better with heavy oils and maintaining its form during high-pressure oil flow.
Blend media combine both cellulose and synthetic to hit the sweet spot for price and performance. Nowadays, most manufacturers are turning towards blend media to keep manufacturing costs down while also providing high filtration efficiency and overall performance.
Pro Tip: The type of media, its surface area as well as the number of pleats it has help determine the filtration efficiency of an oil filter.
An oil filter's capacity refers to its ability to hold the contaminants pulled out from the oil. It's determined by the build and media type. In theory, a larger capacity translates to a longer mileage change interval.
When the capacity is reached, the bypass valve comes into effect, allowing unfiltered oil to continue passing through. The good news is, virtually all oil filters provide more than sufficient capacity, at least 10 grams. So, as long as you go along with the recommended filter changes, you shouldn't run into any capacity issues.
3. Oil Filter Construction
A good oil filter is made of a center tube and metal end caps. Inferior filters tend to make these components from plastic or even cardboard, which naturally compromises their effectiveness.
- The bypass valve should be made from stamped steel or a metal spring, which are far more durable than plastic.
- A silicone anti-drain back valve is superior to a rubber one because it's better at holding its structure in very low or high temperatures.
- Some oil filters also feature a wire backing for the media, a kind of 'scaffolding' that holds the media in place.
So, What Are the Warning Signs of a Bad Oil Filter?
- Oil leaks - If you're noticing oil drips from your vehicle that means you may have issues in the system.
- Engine check light - When contaminated oil enters the engine, it may build up in the system, causing a flurry of malfunctions that will trigger the engine light.
- Overheating - Contaminant buildup also affects the engine's heat conductivity, leading to high temperatures and overheating. Consequently, you may pick up unusual sounds that call for engine inspection.
- Difficult to start - You may also experience a series of starting issues due to inconsistent fuel flow. This tends to happen when the fuel filter hasn't been replaced in a while.
- Frequent stalling - If your vehicle stalls occasionally when driving, you probably have issues with a dirty and clogged fuel filter.
Tips for Choosing the Best Oil Filter for Your Vehicle
Given all you have to look into to find the ideal oil filter for your car, narrowing your choices down to the right one can still be challenging. Here are a few tips that should help you sort through the best oil filters and find the ideal match for your needs and your car:
1. Know the Filter Type You Need
First and foremost, you'll have to decide what type of filter your car needs. Do you need a specific type of filter? Can multiple types of filters work in your vehicle, but only in particular designs and sizes?
Most vehicles require a specific type of oil filter. However, some may offer the allowance to choose, giving the freedom to choose what will work best for your vehicle. A little general knowledge of the different types, as expounded on earlier, will help you compare your options more easily.
2. Know the Right Filter Size for Your Car
On top of the filter type, you'll also need to determine what size your vehicle requires. An oil filter has to fit into a specific area under the hood, which means there's a particular size to look out for. Check your car's current oil filter and look at your vehicle's manual. This should give you a more vivid picture of the size and shape of the filter you need to buy. You'll also need to consider your car's make, model and year.
3. Look at the Filter Itself
This might sound a tad absurd, but ensure you take a good look at the actual filter and filter media for each filter you're considering. The filter media is actually helpful in determining the quality of the particular filter.
For instance, most car owners tend to think a thin filter is inferior to a thicker filter. While that might be fairly accurate, it's more important to consider the material the filter is made out of. In addition, you'll also want to look at the numbers of pleats (where more is better) and how large the filter media is.
4. Use an Oil Filter Finder
Are you aware that you can actually seek help online to narrow down your options? Yes. You can find an online oil filter finder from some retailers. Here, all you have to do is input your vehicle's information -make, model and year, or details about the engine. From there, the finder will recommend options that could be the right fit.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the Best Oil Filters
1. How frequently should I replace the oil filter?
It depends on the manufacturer's recommendation. Most advise replacing your oil filter every time you change your oil, say every 7,500-10,000 miles. Some older engines may require filter replacement with every 3,000-mile oil change. All in all, replacing the oil filter whenever you change the oil gives you the cleanest and most efficient engine possible.
It's also critical to note that you should never put used oil back in.
2. Do I need a synthetic oil filter for synthetic oil?
Yes, especially if the engine was delivered full of synthetic oil from the manufacturer. Standard cellulose oil filter media only works in a pinch for just a little while. However, a hybrid or synthetic filter media will hold up and last through the longer service life of synthetic oils.
That being said, it's important to play it safe and adhere to manufacturer guidelines for oil and filter.
3. Are OEM oil filters better than aftermarket?
Not particularly. More often than not, automakers source parts such as oil filters from Original Equipment Manufacturers then brand them as their own. Some of these OEMs offer the same parts in the aftermarket; pretty much the exact thing except the branding. In fact, some aftermarket companies refine the shortcomings of OEMs to engineer better filters.
4. How do I replace an oil filter?
For starters, we would only recommend this if you're 100% sure of what you're doing. Otherwise, you might end up causing more problems if you don't install the filter correctly. To change your filter, you'll need the following:
- New oil filter
- New and sufficient engine oil
- Container to catch all the old engine oil
If you have everything ready, please follow the following steps carefully:
I. You should only change the oil and filter when the vehicle is stationary and off. Furthermore, it's best when the engine is SLIGHTLY warm, not hot, as this makes the oil fairly less thick so that it flows out of the bottom of the car easier.
II. Wear protective gloves and coveralls, plus consider a mask and goggles to keep your lungs and eyes safe.
III. Find the oil filter in your vehicle
IV. Put the container under the sump before draining to ensure you catch all the oil.
V. Drain the engine oil at the sump carefully with a correctly sized socket.
VI. Once all the oil has drained, remove the old oil filter and replace it with the new one. Lubricate the new seal with oil a little, and tighten it to the necessary torque.
VII. Remove the oil pan, then replace the sump plug and tighten it to the required grip.
VIII. Refill the engine with oil to the exact specified amount and replace the oil cap.
IX. Run the engine to look out for any abnormal sounds. It might sound slightly off for the first couple of seconds as the oil flows through the system.
X. Once the engine settles down, use a dipstick to check the oil level.
XI. If everything is as expected, replace the dipstick, and off you go!
Image Source: flickr.com