What is the Best Oil Filter to Buy?
In this article we are looking at one of the simpler automotive parts which is nonetheless very important to the operation of our cars. Oil filters, although small and unassuming, are incredibly important to our vehicles. We are going to be looking at some of the best options available with a range of prices to hopefully match your budget.
What Is an Oil Filter?
Oil filters have been around for a long time although not as long as cars themselves. The first patent for an oil filter was filed in 1923 by Ernest Sweetland and George H. Greenhaigh. Known as a Purolator or “Pure Oil Later” its name made its purpose clear.
Oil filters are typically encased in a small capsule that contains various components which are used to filter out contaminants from your motor oil. Once cleaned the oil goes through another cycle to continue lubricating the various parts of your engine.
Without the oil filter debris can build up in the engine oil making it not as effective for its task. Over time oil will eventually become less effective and need changing but without the filter this would happen much sooner. Essentially it is a constant process of purifying the oil.
Obviously as with all filters the oil filter can only last so long before it becomes clogged itself and will need to be replaced. There are some filters that can be cleaned but sadly oil filters are not usually cleanable which is why it is easy to purchase and replace these filters as needed.
What Are the Best Oil Filter Brands?
There are plenty of brands out there to choose from and often you get what you pay for so you will want to look out for quality options. That said you can still find some reasonably priced options that offer adequate quality if you know where to look.
1. Bosch Premium Oil Filter
Let's start with one of the best and most respected manufacturers when it comes to automotive parts such as oil filters. German based Bosch has an impressive track record and is a real titan. Their oil filters are particularly well regarded as they claim a 99.9% filtration efficiency.
Their product has undeniable quality with a larger filter area and thickness helping the filter capture particles as small as 20 microns. The build quality is second to none and their filters also feature a metal bypass spring and a silicone anti-drain valve.
You might imagine a filter so highly regarded and well equipped would also be ridiculously expensive but actually they are also very affordable. You have the balance of quality and price making Bosch a real top consideration for your next filter change.
2. Baldwin Heavy Duty Spin-On Filter
As the name suggests this filter brand is marketed toward the heavy duty truck crowd so it is a little more specialized. They have a lot of great reviews and are considered the go-to manufacturer for those with trucks in need of new filters.
It as you may imagine designed to be more robust and has a metal bypass valve to ensure smooth continual flow. Oversized trucks can suffer from dry starts due to their shear size and the Baldwin product can really help avoid this.
With 44 pleats in the media you get a higher rate of flow allowing the oil to circulate more smoothly and efficiently once cleaned. It must however be admitted that when it comes to cleaning efficiency it is not always the highest rated.
3. Toyota Genuine Parts Oil Filter
It may not be common knowledge but Toyota was not always in the business of building cars; they started out with producing car parts first before creating their own models. They have maintained this car parts business and still create quality products.
If you own a Toyota vehicle then you can purchase parts made specifically for the car. When the cars roll off the assembly line they have all the factory parts and are in theory the very best quality that they ever will be.
Aftermarket parts can often vary in quality so purchasing a brand new filter specifically designed for your vehicle will likely ensure you have the best option for your car. In fact customers often rate Toyota oil filters as being better than performance options when it comes to replacements in their Toyota model cars.
The product does come pre-lubricated but it does not fit all Toyota vehicles. This obviously is not ideal but if you have the right kind of Toyota you can’t go too wrong opting for a factory replacement part. We should note that this filter may also work with other branded cars that use Toyota engines.
4. K&N Premium Oil Filter
Cars are not made equal so if for example you have a high performance vehicle you will need parts that reflect this. And if you need a premium oil filter for your performance car then K&N are a great company to consider.
Performance vehicles need a higher rate of oil flow and this includes trucks and sports cars. The premium filter from K&N uses an impregnated cellulose media. This can bring up to 99% filter efficiency which really is not bad
The build quality is far above basic cardboard and plastic versions boasting a spring metal bypass valve and silicone anti-drain valve. It is extremely durable and can handle both conventional and blended oils.
Although oil filters are not usually ludicrously expensive the need to save money these days is fully understandable. Therefore we have a great budget option for you from Motorcraft. This is a factory or Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) that is used by Lincoln, Ford and Mercury to name but a few.
It is a reliable oil filter in an ironed case which offers top-level protection as well as durability. Another benefit of its design is that it tends to fit more securely than many other filters on the market which of course creates a better seal and filtration.
Specifically painted to avoid rust and corrosion you will find these filters do not wear out due to road conditions as some might. It obviously will only last a certain length of time depending on how much oil it has to clean and the particulate build up.
As it is a cellulose media filter it is a little lower when it comes to filter efficiency boasting just 93% which could be better but for the cost this is still worth looking at.
6. Purolator PurolatorONE Advanced Oil Filter
Using a throwback name is perfectly fine for this company as they have been in business for almost a century now. They know their stuff and produce a quality product that stands the test of time and changing motor trends.
A cost effective option Purolator uses a high density media which can manage up to 99% efficiency when it comes to catching particulates. With a life of about 5000 miles or so you may also not need a new filter after every oil change.
Using quality materials unlike many filters that require a wire backing the PurolatorONE uses an easy to mold synthetic media which does not need the extra support. This is not an option for high performance vehicles but when it comes to the average road car their mix of durability and affordability is great.
7. Royal Purple Extended Life Premium Oil Filter
A good rule of thumb is that if a company makes a quality engine oil and also makes oil filters it might just know what it's doing. This is certainly evidenced by Royal Purple with their extended life offering.
Lasting about twice as long as most oil filters at up to 10,000 miles, this offering from Royal Purple is 100% synthetic and offers 99% efficiency. It can capture particles as small as 25 microns so it is going to keep your oil nice and clean.
It is quality construction and built to avoid leakages with all the extras you would hope for from a good filter such as silicone anti-drain valves. The only drawback is that you pay for the quality but with it you also have a product that outlasts its competition.
8. FRAM Extra Guard Oil Filter
Widely available you do not have to go far to find an automotive store that carries FRAM oil filters. This is both testament to how well they sell and their obvious appeal to the consumer. They are a budget option which offers decent quality.
It is prized for its dirt capture and holding ability which is thanks to its media. You can go 5000 miles between filter changes but should probably not push them much further if you want to maintain engine performance.
If you see the product everywhere then it means it's selling everywhere so there must be something about it. This may not be the most stellar oil filter but it hits that balance between cost and performance making it worth considering.
9. Mobil1 Extended Performance Oil Filter
The benefit of extended performance filters is that they last longer which means fewer changes and some financial savings. If you use synthetic motor oils with the filter you can go 15,000 miles between changes.
If you couple this long life with the cleaning efficiency of 99.6% your oil maintenance costs are going to come way down. Mobil of course also makes motor oil so you can use their products together and they have been in business for more than 100 years so they know what they are doing.
One of the biggest boasts for this filter is that it can hold up to 28 grams of dirt which may not sound like a lot until you realize that most of their competitors can not even come close to this.
10. ACDelco Professional Engine Oil Filter
We will finish out our list with one last company who creates OEM parts for GM branded vehicles. You will find their oil filters in Cadillacs, Chevys and Buicks which should tell you that GM considers them to be good quality parts.
With a 98% efficiency at cleaning these filters are right at the top of the scale and they can manage particulates of 25 – 30 microns with relative ease. This ability is especially impressive considering it is not synthetic but actually a cellulose build.
A great selling point is that the ACDelco filter can last up to 12,000 miles before it needs to be changed which means over time you can be potentially saving money.
What to Consider When Buying a New Oil Filter
If you are buying your first oil filter you may be a little overwhelmed with making the decision. There are a lot of players on the field so what is going to be your best option? In this section we will look at some of the most important aspects when it comes to a good oil filter.
As you read through the above options you probably noticed some trends when it came to efficiency and the media from which the filters were constructed. Each filter has a material inside through which the oil flows leaving behind the particulates. You can have synthetic, cellulose or a blend of the two.
You likely noticed that the cellulose options were less efficient than the synthetic options and there is a good reason for this. Generally made of polyester, glass or nylon, synthetic filters are more tightly woven resulting in better capture of particulates.
Synthetic oil filters are better but you also pay for that extra performance. If you have to keep your costs down cellulose options still do great but are generally cheaper. Those looking for a balance between the two might find a blended option the most desirable.
As you may imagine the capacity in question is how much dirt the filter can hold before it ceases to be effective anymore. The more your filter can hold the longer it will be until you need to change the filter.
If you are hoping to avoid frequent oil filter changes you will want a unit with good capacity because once the filter stops working dirty engine oil will be causing your cars performance to drop.
Cars can vary greatly and as a result some filters are designed for specific types of vehicle. This is why one of your main considerations should be what type of oil filter your model requires. You can check your owner's manual for information on the best type of filter for your vehicle.
In this article we tried to give you a good idea of the best oil filters on the market but your car might suit something different. Always check your car's manual to find out what type of oil filter it works best with and check out your options.
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