Written By
Published Nov. 24, 2020

An oil filter is a somewhat small and simple part, but it’s one that’s critically important. Sure, you can simply add oil to your car and expect it to run. But without an oil filter — a clean oil filter — your car won’t run as smoothly or as efficiently as it should. An oil filter helps maintain your vehicle’s health and performance, and it also keeps things flowing smoothly each time you get behind the wheel. These filters prevent substances from getting into your car’s oil and potentially damaging the machinery that gets your car running. Like any filter, an oil filter needs to be replaced regularly too to ensure oil is getting properly filtered. If your oil filter is due for an upgrade or replacement, check out our picks for the best oil filters right here.

The Best Oil Filters

Generally, Motorcraft oil filters are specifically designed based on the high-quality standards of Ford Motor Company. These vehicle parts are also recommended by the company for use as the original filter equipment of vehicles under the brand of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury. These filters are designed to protect your engine from contaminants like carbon, sand, and metal bits, by suspending them. The filter has pressure-relief valves that prevent unfiltered oil from circulating within the engine. It also helps with the maintaining of the oil supply, especially during cold weather conditions.

This unit’s outer casings are made of “ironed” and painted steel, to allow a precise fit in the engine and rust-resistant protection. Its silicone anti-drain back valves are present to prevent oil from draining when the engine is not in use. It also helps the engine withstand the effect of wearing out from the high level of heat from within.

Specification
  • Brand Motorcraft
  • Model FL-820-S
  • Weight 13.8 ounces

This first product in the list is from Mobil 1, one of the popular brands in the industry. Their M1-110 Extended Performance Oil Filter (M1EP) claims to have a stronger filtering ability than competing filters. The unit uses a spin-on and cartridge filter, ensuring an incredible filtering ability. It also utilizes an advanced synthetic fiber blend media and has a Multi-Pass Efficiency Rating of 99.6%, suspending contaminants with such efficiency. With its total contaminant capacity of 28 grams, this oil filter can hold more dirt particles than other brands.

The M1EP also has pressure protection of up to 615 Pascals per square inch, being able to survive about nine times of normal system pressure. This oil filter can operate with any motor oil. However, expect the best when using Mobil 1 or Mobil 1 Extended Performance motor oils with this unit.

Specification
  • Brand Mobil 1
  • Model M1-110
  • Weight 4 ounces

This next one sees to it that it only gives the strong filtration that your vehicle needs. The Bosch 3330 utilizes FILTECH media technology to capture more contaminants to provide more protection on your engine and your car. With this media, the filtering area is larger than what other filters have, with 42% of the area reserved for filtering. It’s also 30% thicker, suspending more contaminants and other substances from the oil flow.

The Bosch 3330 has plates and housing that use strong steel for construction to avoid unwanted leaks and poor fitting of the filter in the engine. When the car is started, your vehicle will be supplied with clean oil through its anti-drain back valve that’s made of silicone. The gasket is also designed to have a high level of lubricant so it allows a tight seal but can be easily removed when needed to be replaced.

Specification
  • Brand Bosch
  • Model 3330
  • Weight 9.8 ounces

Toyota is one of the leading brands when it comes to vehicles and parts, and sure enough, this product from the notable company is a top rated oil filter. This oil filter is an OEM or Original Equipment Manufacturer vehicle part that your car comes with. Choosing an authentic OEM vehicle part gives you the assurance of a good quality product and you won’t have to worry about the part not fitting in or being not suitable for your vehicle. It’s a pretty big challenge finding the right part for your vehicle, and it’s also a big investment, however, OEM parts are here to make sure that you only use the best vehicle parts; in this case, the best car oil filter.

Considering that this unit is an OEM part, there’s no doubt it will do good in filtering your engine oil for contaminants. It’s very well recommended to use with a Toyota motor oil, however, it can also be used with other motor oil brands.

Specification
  • Brand Toyota
  • Model 90915-YZZF2
  • Weight 5.6 ounces

This 5th product features a metal-free filter, making the system element friendly and providing great protection for your engine. It can hold a high capacity of contaminants with its incredible filtering surface. This unit’s pleat structures let the filtering surface be efficient while in the whole process. When it’s time for the filter’s periodic replacement, you can use wrench removal tools for faster and easier removal.

And as mentioned previously, this product is a metal-free oil filter, meaning that this vehicle part is made with one material and won’t produce ash when this is disposed of using a thermal process.

Specification
  • Brand Mann Filter
  • Model HU 925/4 X
  • Weight 3.52 ounces

This product is considered as the best synthetic oil filter that Fram has, with its filtering media, made of dual-layered, synthetic and cellulose, which can capture about 99% of contaminants from the engine oil. Additionally, its filtering surface is made of a metal screen to improve the filtering job. This filter is specifically designed and made to be used with synthetic oil, making it the best oil filter choice for those who want to maximize what they pay for. It has a silicone anti-drain back valve to provide protection to your engine for about 15,000 miles.

This unit features a Sure Grip coating that provides you a non-slip texture for ease when installing and removing the oil filter in and from your engine. In addition, the gasket is also internally lubricated for additional ease and convenience of removing it when it’s time for a replacement.

Specification
  • Brand Fram
  • Model XG7317
  • Weight 7.2 ounces

Royal Purple claims to manufactures only the high performance oil filter, the Extended Life Oil Filter, specifically designed and produced to filter your oil for contaminants. As has been mentioned in the unit’s name, not only does it extend the life of the oil filter itself, it also gives protection to your engine to avoid fast wear out. The system utilizes a 100% synthetic micro-glass component to allow optimum suspension of dirt particles that are as small as 25 microns, having a 99% efficient filtration.

This oil filter features its shell that’s constructed with a thick material to provide additional strength and protection against the harmful effects of road debris and other substances. Metal end caps are present to provide the unit an incredible seal. While the filtering media provides great filtration, it keeps the flow restrictions at low.

When installing or removing this oil filter, torque is greatly reduced with the use of the gasket that’s constructed with nitrile rubber and lubricant compound. The silicone anti-drain back valve, on the other hand, removes the drain back of oil when the engine is shut down, preventing dry starts. Because of the silicone material, the valve can both withstand extreme cold and hot oil temperatures.

Specification
  • Brand Royal Purple
  • Model ROY10-2835
  • Weight 12.8 ounces

This 8th product is designed to provide a high level of durability and high oil flow rates even in extreme conditions. The filter walls are made of heavy-duty materials to prevent debris from damaging the housing; it’s also designed to withstand oil pressures that are higher than normal, without the filter bursting. This unit comes with a hex nut welded on top of its canister so you can easily attach or remove the filter with a wrench. Its anti-drain back valve eliminates dry starts by preventing oil from draining back when the engine is being shut down. This oil filter is also a recommended filter replacement for most vehicles like cars, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, and ATVs.

The K&N HP-1003 Performance Wrench-Off Oil Filter is recommended to use with synthetic motor oils and considering the features that this filter offers, it’s easily one of the best oil filters for synthetic oil available in the vehicle parts industry. 

Specification
  • Brand K&N
  • Model HP-1003
  • Weight 4.8 ounces

Like the Toyota Genuine Parts 90915-YZZF2 Oil Filter in number 3, the Subaru 15208AA15A Oil Filter is also an OEM vehicle part. This means that this filter is specifically designed for the usage of the vehicle that comes with this. As previously stated, you won’t have to worry about choosing to buy an OEM part, as fantastic product quality and vehicle fitting are mostly guaranteed.

Again, considering that this oil filter is under the OEM vehicle parts, it’s already provided that this oil filter will do a great job in suspending unwanted substances that come with the oil circulating within the engine of your car.

Specification
  • Brand Subaru
  • Model 6.4 ounces
  • Weight 15208AA15A

ACDelco sees to it that they only manufacture high-quality oil filters in the market. It’s said that this unit is one of the most ideal oil filter replacements for most vehicle types. It plays an optimum performance in capturing contaminants, such as dirt, rust, and paint particles, and other harmful substances from the oil in the engine.

This product is specifically designed to go beyond what you expect in oil filters, in terms of design, fit, and features.

Specification
  • Brand ACDelco
  • Model TP3018
  • Weight 11.2 ounces

Best Oil Filter Buying Guide

Ready to replace your car’s oil filter? You have a lot of options — and that can make the task of choosing which one is the best of the bunch challenging. While oil filters are simple, each one is different in its fit, effectiveness, and its lifespan. You can narrow down your options and find the top oil filter for your car with our handy buying guide.

What is an Oil Filter?

An oil filter is a part that helps maintain your car and its many moving pieces. It’s a relatively compact component that filters oil, separating small particles of dirt or other contaminants out so that oil flows cleanly. With these impurities removed, oil can move onto the engine without causing damage or wear and tear. 

Without an oil filter, your vehicle’s oil would be “dirty,” or at the very least it’d be filled with those particles and contaminants. And those impurities present in the oil can wreak havoc on larger parts and pieces, including the engine. So, your oil filter helps ensure everything is running smoothly and cleanly.

Typically, oil filters are made up of a few parts: a tapping plate, an anti-drain back valve, filter medium, pleats, a steel tube, a relief valve, an end disc, and a retainer. There are usually two types of filter media, so the oil is filtered once as it passes through the primary medium and another time as it passes through the secondary medium. Oil filters can capture particles between 5 to 30 microns in size. Each oil filter should indicate just how small of particles it’s able to capture to give you an idea of the filtering capability.

car oil filter guide

Types of Oils Filters

When you shop for a new oil filter, you’ll have a wealth of options available to choose from. There are a number of different types of filters too — and it’s important to know some of the most common types to ensure you’re picking the right one for your needs and your vehicle.

Oil filters are typically divided into two categories: primary or secondary. A primary oil filter is the most common variety, and it’s what you’ll find in most vehicles today. These filters are designed to filter engine oil in large volumes. A secondary filter is typically only found in diesel vehicles. If you drive a car that runs on diesel, this type of oil filter will act as a backup filter to the primary. Oil will pass through the secondary filter to get a finer filter and catch any contaminants that snuck through the primary filter.

From there, oil filters are broken down into more specific types. These include the following:

Mechanical Oil Filter

A mechanical oil filter uses filter media that’s made out of bulk materials, like cotton waste or pleated filter paper, to separate contaminants from engine oil. As the filter media pulls dirt out of the oil, the oil flow can become hindered. Mechanical oil filters do need to be replaced regularly, and you can either replace the whole filter or the filter media alone.

Cartridge and Spin-On Oil Filter

Cartridge oil filters were some of the earliest filters used for engine oil. They have a cartridge, or a permanent housing, and replaceable filter media. Cartridge oil filters evolved into spin-on oil filters over time, with self-contained housing as well as replaceable components. Spin-on oil filters make it easy to change your filter, as they’re more convenient to take out and replace. Design can vary, but most cartridge or spin-on filters are made with synthetic materials.

Magnetic Oil Filter

Magnetic oil filters actually use magnets to pull particles out of your engine oil. They’re able to suspend ferromagnetic particles, capturing them as oil flows through these filters. One of the biggest benefits of these types of filters is that the collected particles and contaminants are collected neatly on the magnet’s surface. They’re easy to clean and replace. However, magnetic oil filters may cause some potential problems due to the magnets they use.

Sedimentation Oil Filter

Sedimentation oil filters, which are also called gravity bed oil filters, separate oil from sediment — or contaminants — with gravity. They suspend, or pull out, the contaminants that are heavier than the oil itself, pulling them down to the bottom of the filter.

Centrifugal Oil Filter

A centrifugal oil filter works similarly to a sedimentation oil filter. However, instead of removing contaminants from oil via gravity’s pull, these filters use centrifugal force. They have rotating devices or components that spin the oil, which pulls out those heavy pollutants. Oil enters the filter, moves through a drum rotor with jet nozzles, and the drum rotates. Contaminants stick to the walls of the filter. These types of oil filters do need to be cleaned regularly to prevent buildup or sticking.

High Efficiency (HE) Oil Filter

A high efficiency oil filter, or an HE oil filter, is a kind of bypass filter. These filters have filter media with pores that are about 3 micrometers in size, and they continually filter out potential contaminants as oil pours through. The benefit of high efficiency oil filters is that they allow for longer oil drain intervals, which can extend five to 10 times a typical drain interval.

Tips On Choosing the Right Oil Filter for Your Car

Unsure which type of oil filter is the right fit for your vehicle? You aren’t alone. With so many options, it can be tough to narrow down your choices and buy a filter that’s perfect for your car. Here are our tips on choosing the best oil filter for your needs and your car.

1. Understand Which Filter Type You Need

First and foremost, you’ll want to decide what type of oil filter you need. Do you need a specific kind of filter? Will multiple types of filters work in your car, but only in specific sizes or designs? Most vehicles require a particular type of oil filter. Some, however, may allow you to choose, giving you the freedom to decide what’ll work best for your car. As long as you have a little general knowledge about the different types of oil filters, you’ll be able to easily compare your options.

2. Know What Size Filter Your Vehicle Requires

In addition to the type of filter, you’ll need to know what size your car requires. The oil filter will need to fit into a specific area under the hood, and choosing the wrong size can cause problems. Check your vehicle’s current oil filter, or take a look at your vehicle’s manual. This is the best way to know what size and shape of the filter you need to buy. You should also consider your vehicle’s make, model, and year.

3. Take a Close Look at the Filter Itself

It might sound silly, but make sure to take a good look at the actual filter — or the filter media — of each filter you’re considering. The oil filter media can actually help you determine a particular filter’s quality. For example, many people assume that a thin filter won’t work as well as a thicker filter. That might be true, but you should also consider what the filter material is made out of. Additionally, you’ll want to consider the number of pleats (more is better) and how large the filter medium is.

4. Use an Oil Filter Finder

Did you know that you can actually get help narrowing down your oil filter options online? You can try an oil filter finder, an online tool offered by some retailers. You can input information about your vehicle such as the make, model, and year, or information about the engine. From there, the finder will recommend filters that’ll be the right fit.

Things To Consider When Buying an Oil Filter

This section is just like the last one, but more specifically, about the things that need to be present in an ideal oil filter. Having more pleats on your filter means that it can capture more contaminants from the engine oil. In addition, having a filter media that can filter small particles of 3 to 10 microns will do a great job.

A nice oil filter also has a metal end cap. Some filters use cardboard, however, it has a tendency to wear out easily. Also, make sure that the bypass valves are made of metal as metal valves are more durable than those that are made of plastic. Check if the gasket is made of flexible rubber to provide an incredible seal.

How Often Do Oil Filters Need To Be Replaced

Like the engine oil, oil filters also need periodic replacement to maintain the smoothness of your vehicle, inside and out. Because the main role of this component is to filter the dirt from the oil, you have to change it from time to time to avoid the problem of contaminants building up and clogging the filter up.

The perfect time to change your oil filter is when you change your oil. This ideally happens every three to six months. You can ask your trusted mechanic to do this while changing your oil.

Signs of Oil Filter Failure

Normally, you never really realize that the oil filter is actually broken until you notice that your car isn’t running as fine as it used to. It’s hard to tell if the filter is working perfectly fine as most filters have this safety feature that enables unfiltered oil to circulate in your engine as having dirty oil is more important than having none at all. However, despite this feature, there are some visible signs that your vehicle shows, in case the filter is failing.

The Engine Light is On

When dirty oil starts circulating in the engine, contaminants may build up within and cause malfunctions. This triggers the Low Engine Oil Light that most cars are equipped with. Some cars even have a Low Oil Pressure Light; and if either of these lights turns on, you might want to check on your oil filter for possible problems.

Noticeable Leaks

You know something is up when you see oil leaking from your vehicle. This happens when failing oil filters has no capability to adapt to temperature changes anymore, leading the system to burst. When this occurs, the oil circulates back to the oil pan, having oil to leak from it and your vehicle.

You may also notice that the oil pressure has become lower than usual because of these leaks, as more oil that leaks out from the gasket means the lower oil pressure the engine will have. If the pressure goes too low, the engine itself may have the tendency to fail.

Overheating of the Engine.

This may be a sign that leads to many issues in your vehicle; however, oil filter failure is one of them. When unfiltered oil circulates, the contaminants can build up on the engine, preventing heat conductivity within. This wears out the engine and will result in malfunctioning. When your car overheats, it’s time to do an overall check-up with your car.

Our Top Pick

Our top pick when it comes to the best oil filters for your car is the Motorcraft FL820S Silicone Valve Oil Filter. Specifically designed to match the same level of quality as original filter equipment for Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln vehicles, this Motorcraft oil filter is a fantastic OEM replacement part. It’s even recommended by the brands as a suitable replacement option. When it comes to effectiveness, this oil filter works well. It’ll keep contaminants like carbon, sand, metal, and more from entering your engine. It includes pressure relief valves, and it also helps maintain your engine oil supply even when it’s cold outside. This oil filter is tough too — it has outer castings made out of “ironed” and painted steel and is covered in rust-resistant protection.

Sources:

  1. Change Oil Filter – HowStuffWorks
  2. 7 Tips to Get Your Car Summer Ready – HuffPost Life

MORE TO READ