Last Updated on March 26, 2020 by Team TRA
Your oil filter plays a vital role in safeguarding your engine. All matter of debris and gunk can clog an oil filter and lead to serious (and expensive) engine problems. When spring is in the air, and with it come allergies and hay fever. Ironically, the same pollen, debris, and air pollutants that plug up your nose and cause your sinuses to throb can also make your ride sick as a dog. Keep your car or truck up and running strong by constantly checking your oil filter for over-saturation. Spending the extra $5-10 for a quality oil filter will keep things running smoothly for longer. Check out our list of the best oil filters on the market.
5 Best Oil Filters
Picking the appropriate oil filter alongside regular oil change can encourage prolonged engine life. These days you can find different types of oil filters on the marketplace.
The first oil filter we look at is a normal spin-on type oil filter. This filter from FRAM is rated for 15,000 miles. Their Ultra oil filters are FRAM’s best oil filter and trap and hold more than double your ordinary oil filter brand.
FRAM engineered this for use with synthetic oils. The textured top is FRAM’s SureGrip anti-slip tech, helping make changing out the oil filter quick and easy.
The media is designed for a synthetic blend backed by a metal screen. The metal screen sustains uniform pleating and aids in the durability of the unit. This helps it catch nearly all impurities as the oil passes through and is encourages optimum oil flow.
FRAM is a respected manufacturer of filters and auto components. They engineer filtration parts for the global mechanical and aviation markets. They do everything from the consumer market up to best in class in weight, performance, and durability for specialized applications.
ACDelco may not be as well known as some of the other major oil filter manufacturers, but their PF2232 Oil Filter is an excellent product. Its specced out at 98% filtering efficiency at 25-30 micron. ACDelco claims their cellulose media will even trap particles the size of 1/3 the width of a human hair. Now that’s some powerful filtration!
If you’re tuned into the auto business, you’ll know that ACDelco is the exclusive original equipment parts brand for GM Motors including Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC branded vehicles. They offer professional-grade aftermarket auto parts and their parts a
The Bosch L3330 Long Life Oil Filter is uniquely built to be utilized for long term use without change. It is engineered and rated to trap contaminants up to 10,000 miles. Bosch has given this unit their 4-Star Filtration label. What does that mean? The filtration media on this unit had actually been tested and shown to have a capacity to hold 22 grams of dirt.
Bosch’s long life filters are 99.5% efficient in capturing the tiniest bits of pollutants. The core of this unit is a spiral-wound center tube. This increases the durability and strength of the unit. Combined with the nitrile sealing gasket, it’s going to do okay during relatively high pressures.
If 99% isn’t good enough, Mobil 1 engineered this extended performance oil filter to capture 99.6% of contaminants. This is rated for a total of 28 grams capacity of gunk and junk.
This particular unit offers robust protection, withstanding 9 times more operating pressure (615 pascals psi) than your average oil filter. Mobil 1 also makes an excellent full synthetic motor oil. Paired with this extended performance filter, your engine will be happily firing away for many miles.
Mobil 1 offers both cartridge and spin-on oil filters, providing filters for over 97 percent of vehicles in operation. It is highly unlikely one of their filters won’t be compatible with your vehicle.
We haven’t forgotten about the motorcycle enthusiasts out there. This K&N Oil Filter is a high-performance oil filter engineered for motorcycles and other power sports. This is also a spin-on oil filter that features a heavy-duty can, perfect for the extreme conditions that racers and motorsports demand.
On the top of the filter, you will find a 17 mm exposed nut making it easy to install and remove. The filter media is resin-impregnated and virtually traps 99% of harmful debris and other contaminants. It is a high flow premium media filter, for optimal oil flow and filtration.
K&N Engineering is located in Riverside California. They actually invented the high flow cotton air filter in 1969. K&N sells oil filters, air filters, and other performance parts in over 30 countries. They are also one of the world’s leading manufacturers of washable performance air filters and intake systems.
Oil Filter Basics 101: How Does an Oil Filter Work?
An oil filter is an essential component of your car’s intake system, allowing the engine to “breathe.” It doesn’t matter what make or model you have — a Silverado, Ram, Wrangler or Toyota Camry — if it has a combustion engine your vehicle needs an oil filter.
How does an oil filter work in the grand scheme of things? To operate efficiently and without failure, an engine needs clean oil. Over time, oil gets dirty, hence the need for that regular and annoying oil change. A quality oil filter will help oil stay clean and pure, as all the oil the engine receives circulates through the oil filter. Connecting to the intake manifold through a plastic tube, the filter’s purpose is to remove dirt and other foreign particles, preventing them from entering the system and damaging the engine. Just like human bodies don’t want dirty water and need clean, pure water to function its best, automobiles need pure (preferably high quality synthetic) oil.
Due to the filter’s simple construction, they’re typically quite affordable. Even for a top of the line oil filter for a standard vehicle, you’re unlikely to pay over $25. The filter itself is constructed of a paper-like or fibrous material and folded accordion-style. This filter is then arranged on a plastic or metal frame to fit your car’s oil filter holder.
In addition, some performance grade models, like K&N, are constructed of a more durable material that allows them to be reused. These environmentally-friendly filters greatly reduce the number of disposable oil filters that clog landfills. Plus, they have the added benefit of actually performing better than other aftermarket filters. They trap more dirt and offer better filtration. Some manufacturers even claim they yield greater performance by providing more power, longer engine life, and better fuel economy that saves you 1 – 3 MPGs on average.
Many performance oil filters are used for race applications. The goal of these oil filters is to offer a high flow rate and maintain optimal filtration even during demanding racing conditions. Furthermore, these are built robustly, with strong oil filter walls. Durability is the name of the game here, these oil filters won’t burst when exposed to higher oil pressures.
Oil Filter Basics 102: Signs of a Dirty Oil Filter
5 Dirty Oil Filter Warning Signs:
- Performance Deteriorates. Decreased acceleration power and your car feeling like it does not pick up speed as much as it used to is a common warning sign. You don’t want to drive your vehicle on this low level of performance for a sustained period of time or you could risk damaging important parts of your vehicle.
- Metallic Sounds. A lack of oil in the engine means it’s low on lubrication and metal will start grinding against metal.. never a good thing! This can lead to a much bigger (and expensive) problem.
- Dirty Exhaust. One symptom of a clogged oil filter is black or dark exhaust coming out of your vehicle. When this occurs, you will be able to smell a nasty burning oil
- Low and/or Dropping Pressure. That oil pressure gauge on the dash exists for a reason. A steep drop in oil pressure is always a cause for concern. Normally oil pressure only drops a fraction of a percent while driving.
- Sputtering. A clogged oil filter will almost certainly cause your vehicle to sputter. A clog means the oil filter is now releasing enough oil to satisfy your engine, and when there is significant blockage the car won’t be able to keep up the speed you want. Even if sputtering is very light, you want to get it changed before it leads to a bigger problem.
What would happen inside your engine if your oil filter all of the sudden plugged at highway speeds? If the engine oil was not able to get past your oil filter. We just hope the little idiot light turns on let us know there is a problem with our oil system. An engine catastrophe can happen fast with a loaded engine at highway speeds!
Oil is responsible for lubricating and cooling critical areas of the engine and if it stops flowing there will be major issues. A catastrophic seizure is imminent.
One preventative solution is to regularly change your oil filter. When air is restricted, your engine can fail, leading to overheating and even a cracked block. The life of a filter depends largely on how much crud it collects, with slightly dirty oil filters actually performing better than those straight out of the box. This is because the debris trapped in it actually screens out smaller particles, making the filter itself more effective overall.
Regardless, if the filter media does get blocked oil filters to have a bypass valve which is spring-loaded. The bypass valve opens when the filter pressure gets too high. If the media does get overused and blocked then oil will flow through the bypass valve. The problem with that is the oil is no longer getting filtered.
Sometimes this will show up as an oil light indicates that there is low oil pressure downstream of the filter (hopefully your oil filter bypass valve is not stuck!). You can guess that sometimes the pressure decrease is not enough to cause an oil light indication.
The bypass is also prone to open on startup when the synthetic motor oil is cool and thick. The pressure drop through the filter media is too high to pass all the thick oil and some have to go through the bypass filter. Again this causes unfiltered oil to pass up into the engine. Don’t worry too much though filter design has been like this for years and engines have done pretty well.
The problem occurs when an oil filter is not changed for long periods of time and become blocked for long periods of time. Unfiltered motor oil can then continuously circulate through your engine and cause extensive wear.
Oil Filter Basics 103: How Often Should I Change My Oil Filter?
Generally speaking, manufacturers like to stick the oil filter in the most difficult place to access. The harder it is to get in there and get a filter wrench around it the better. Kidding aside, usually, it isn’t too difficult to locate and identify the kind of oil filter you are working with.
Most experts agree around the 7,500 – 10,000-mile mark is a safe estimate. Often, vehicle owners will have the oil filter changed out whenever they have an oil change. It is a simple rule of thumb and helps you remember you’ve done the proper preventative maintenance. While this may be ‘overkill’ they are so cheap that changing them this frequently is not cost-prohibitive.
If you are concerned, you can check your vehicle’s owner’s manual that will usually give you guidance on change frequency in mileage or hours.
What can you really get away with? That’s a different story. In general, quality filters last between 20,000 – 30,000 miles under “normal” conditions. But be prepared to change it more frequently if you drive around in poor air quality or on back roads that constantly kick up dust and other airborne debris. Perform a visual inspection of your oil filter every 10,000 to 12,500 miles. If it still looks OK, pop it back in and check it when you hit 20,000 to 30,000 miles of use.
The best oil filters can hold a ton of gunk and debris as they were designed to do before they need replacement. We say designed loosely because we believe some companies know how to assemble filters but don’t really know how to design and test them. You want to know the filter you are using was designed and built by a competent company.
What to Look for in the Best Oil Filter for Your Vehicle
The best oil filter should have the following properties in order to work best in any given conditions:
- High Temperature Properties. Almost any filter media can be used for water-based products. But in the case of filtering hot oils, resins, and other high temperature products, a filter media that can withstand prolonged exposure to high temperatures is preferred. Best oil filters should be able to have excellent high temperature properties to be able to handle the filtration of oil well enough.
- Excellent Filtering. The best oil filters should be able to filter out the contaminants well enough in order to be considered a high-grade product. All filters have a micron rating that determines the size of the particles that can be effectively captured by the filter media. Oil filter having a 5-micron rating is preferred to provide excellent filtering properties.
- Durability. The top oil filters should be able to withstand exposure to dirt, debris, airborne particles, and even small rocks like gravel. A lesser quality filter may break down when exposed to such antagonists. Make sure that the oil filter that you use has a heavy-duty construction to withstand anything you can meet out on the road.
- Removal Nut. When it comes time to change out the oil filter, and that time will inevitably come, a removal nut makes that job much easier. Most automotive oil filters have a 1-inch nut welded on the top of the canister allowing them to easily be wrenched-off with a standard tool. Otherwise, you’ll need an oil filter wrench tool to get a grip on and loosen the filter.