Best Oil Filters: Protect Your Engine from Wear and Tear
Some of the best oil filters to consider the next time you’re looking for a replacement
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PUBLISHED ON May 10, 2019
Changing car oil regularly is one of the basic maintenance and servicing rules that every car owner knows. Oil filters, however, don’t get the same attention and care. The best oil filters trap dirt, debris, and other contaminants in the oil and ensure only clean and high-quality oil circulates inside the engine. That said, what is the best oil filter? How do you find the best car oil filter out of the top-rated options on the market? And, exactly, who makes the best oil filter? Our oil filter review answers all of these questions and helps you decide on the oil filter that suits both your car and your budget.
- Best OverallFRAM XG7317 Ultra Synthetic Spin-On Oil Filter with SureGripSummarySummaryHigh-quality standards and innovative technology make this our top pick. Its dual-layered filtering material offers great filtration capabilities. The SureGrip coating makes installing and removing this filter a breeze.ProsProsThe silicone anti-drain back valve prevents oil from leaking when the engine is not in use. The metal filter screen maximizes the filtration of the oil.ConsConsDoesn’t fit in some cars as it should.
- Best ValueBosch 3330 Premium FILTECH Oil FilterSummarySummaryWith both a low price tag and strong filtration, this filter gives you the best value for your money. It's signature FILTECH filter traps more oil contaminants than other oil filters, and the metal casing is leakproof.ProsProsThe filter has a tough steel housing and a larger filtering area for maximum performance. It comes with a gasket with high lubricity.ConsConsRequires more frequent changes.
- Honorable MentionMobil 1 M1-110 / M1-110A Extended Performance Oil FilterSummarySummaryThe Mobil 1 oil filter reaches peaks of efficiency and protection only a few others can achieve. Besides its great filtering ability, this high-performance oil filter operates under great pressure with power and reliability. It works with almost any motor oil.ProsProsIt has a high contaminant-holding capacity and can handle oil pressure without losing its filtration efficiency.ConsConsSteep price tag. Some units have faulty gaskets.
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Oil Filters
- Protect against oil oxidation. No matter how good or bad the road conditions you drive in are, car oil oxidizes over time. This oxidation adds even more contaminants to the oil and reduces its efficiency. An oil filter prevents these contaminants from making their way inside the engine and protects the engine against damage.
- Prevent engine overheating. Engine overheating is a common problem caused by low-quality oil. The buildup of dirt and impurities in the oil can wear down the engine and reduce heat conductivity. The oil filter keeps the engine parts lubricated with pure oil and prevents heat spikes.
- Extend engine life. The engine needs clean oil circulating inside it to operate at top performance. A good-quality oil filter keeps the dirt and other debris in the oil from reaching the internal parts of the engine. This extends both the engine’s power and lifespan.
Types of Oil Filters
Mechanical oil filters use materials like pleated filter paper and cotton to block contaminants in the oil from passing through. Mechanical types are common, although they’re also inefficient. With time and more impurities in the filtering material, they reduce the oil flow. Mechanical filters need to be changed frequently. Depending on the brand, you might have to change either just the filter media or the whole oil filter altogether.
Cartridge and Spin-On
Cartridge oil filters have a basic design that hasn’t changed a lot over the years. They have a housing case with a filtering media that you need to replace from time to time. Recent improvements to the design added a spin-on to increase the filtering capabilities. The filtering media is made from a synthetic material that does a better job filtering oil than paper, cotton, or cardboard found in mechanical oil filters.
Since most of the impurities and debris in oil are tiny metal parts, a magnet can pull them out of the oil as it passes into the engine. This simple idea is the basis for this type of filter. They use either a magnet or an electromagnet to purify the oil on the go. This makes cleaning the oil filter as easy as removing contaminants off the magnet.
Sedimentation oil filters, or gravity bed oil filters, pull the debris down to the bottom of the filter. Because the debris is heavier than the oil, the filter relies on gravity to do all the work. To some degree, sedimentation works in cleaning the oil. However, It’s not the most reliable or effective way to remove contaminants from the oil. With the oil’s pressure and speed, many contaminants escape the pull of gravity and enter the engine.
When you rotate a device, you create something called the centrifugal force. Oil filters that use the centrifugal force have a design that lets the oil rotate inside the filter’s housing at high speed. The oil itself makes it out while the contaminants get stuck to the walls of the housing. This method is efficient in purifying car oil, however, you still need to clean the housing regularly to keep contaminants build-up at bay.
Motorcraft was launched in 1972 to provide spare parts for Ford Motor Company. It manufactures car parts for Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury cars. The oil filter made by the company fits into many car makes and models. Other products include the Motorcraft FL-2016 Oil Filter and Motorcraft FL-500S Oil Filter.
Bosch goes back to 1887 when Robert Bosch invented a magneto ignition device for an engine. Ten years later, he installed the device in a three-wheeled vehicle and the rest is history. Today, the Bosch Group has facilities the world over and employs around 390,000 people. Top products include the Bosch 3410 Premium FILTECH Oil Filter and Bosch 3300 Premium FILTECH Oil Filter.
ExxonMobil is the company behind Mobil 1. Around 135 years ago, the company started as a local kerosene seller in the U.S. market. Today, it’s one of the largest petroleum and petrochemical corporations in the world. Top oil filters in its lineup include the Mobil 1 M1-102A Extended Performance Oil Filter and Mobil 1 M1-113 Extended Performance Oil Filter.
Oil Filter Pricing
- Less than $10: Oil filters that sell at this price range are not of the best quality. You should expect to change the filter more often than other options that cost more. The poor quality can end up costing you more in engine servicing and repair in the long run.
- $10 - $15: On average, good-quality filters sell in this range. These filters use good filtration materials, so you don’t need to change them so often.
- Over $15: An oil filter in this price range will likely have all the whistles and bells. Depending on their functionality, the valves are made from steel or silicone to withstand high pressures and temperatures.
Filtration Media Type
Inside every oil filter, there’s a material that actually does the filtering of the oil. That material, called media, is made of cellulose, synthetic, or a blend of those two. Synthetic media is usually made from polyester, glass, or nylon and has a better filtration capacity thanks to the high quality of the tightly woven fibers. It can capture the smallest impurities in the fluid without affecting the flow rates of the oil. Cellulose is cheaper than synthetic media but has an inferior quality. Blend media offers a better choice both in cost and performance.
The oil filter capacity determines its ability to hold the contaminants it picks from the oil without the need to replace it. Two factors affect the filter’s capacity: the media type and the build of the filter. For a car owner, capacity means longer mileage. When a filter reaches its capacity, it will allow unfiltered oil into the engine using the bypass valve.
- Ease of Use: Oil filters come in different shapes and sizes. Not every filter will fit in your car. When you pick the one that’s designed for your car model, it should be easy to install without hassle. You don’t have to go to a mechanic to change the oil filter unless you don’t want to do the work yourself.
- Housing Design: The lack of standards in the auto industry means every car brand and car model has its own specifications. The oil filter weight and housing design determine whether it can be installed in your specific car or not. Make sure the filter’s specifications match your car’s requirements outlined in the owner’s manual.
Best Oil Filter Reviews & Recommendations 2019
The Fram XG7317 has both high standards and innovative technology to back it up. With the dual-layered media, It captures 99 percent of metal particles, carbon, and dirt in the oil before it passes through the engine. The pressure relief valve prevents unfiltered oil from entering the engine and keeps a steady oil supply.
The filter’s components are made from high-grade materials. The case is made from painted steel for precise fitting and to resist erosion. The anti-drain back valve is silicone to withstand the high temperature and wear/tear. The case is coated with a SureGrip anti-slip texture for easy installation and removal.
The filter doesn’t always fit into vehicles as it should. The cellulose media is mainly mediocre cardboard. It keeps the filter on the cheap side but also impacts its efficiency. The packaging is another issue with this filter. Finally, some units come out of the box dented or with cracks in them.
Best Value: Bosch 3330 Premium FILTECH Oil Filter
For the best value for your money, Bosch 3330 Premium FILTECH is an easy pick. The low price and excellent filtration efficiency make it a favorite by car owners. The media uses FiLTECH technology to expand its filtering surface to trap more contaminants. It’s also 30 percent thicker than the media in other filters for higher capacity and better protection.
Inside the Bosch filter, things look as neat and efficient as the German engineering behind it. The gasket has high lubricity for a tight seal. The steel case is leakproof and easy to fit. The filter uses blended media for better filtration. This gives it a 14-gram capacity that puts it on the top tier of high-capacity filters in the market.
Despite these great features, the filter has a few flaws. The recently redesigned base plate doesn’t fit snugly like in older models and leads to oil leaking. The center tube design could be improved for better oil flow, meaning you’ll need to change the media more often.
Honorable Mention: Mobil 1 M1-110 / M1-110A Extended Performance Oil Filter
Mobil is a reliable name in the automotive world. The Mobil 1 M1-110 lives up to this reputation with a design for good filtration and engine protection. The cartridge and spin-on filter have a 28-gram filtration capacity that exceeds most other filters on the market. The media behind this amazing capacity is a blend of synthetic and fiber.
Pressure protection is another high mark with this filter. The Mobil 1 M1-110 can withstand up to nine times the normal operating pressure. This is perfect for heavy-duty engines that require more oil as both the speed and temperature increase. The silicone anti-dry back valve maintains the oil levels in the engine and prevents dry starts.
The major drawback with this filter is its steep price. With this price tag, you’d expect the media to be synthetic instead of a blend. The media also doesn’t have a wire backing for stability. Finally, in a few cases, the gasket comes faulty out of the box.
- If you’re not sure about the right oil filter to install in your car, check the car’s manual or your mechanic. If all else fails, check with the car manufacturer online.
- The construction of the oil filter tells you how durable it is. Low-quality materials like plastic, rubber, or cardboard wear out quickly.
- You shouldn’t wait for the low engine oil light to come on before you consider replacing the oil filter. A good rule of thumb is to replace the oil filter when changing the engine oil every three to six months or 5,000 to 10,000 miles.
Q: Why do I need to change the oil filter?
A: The oil filter’s main job is to filter debris, dirt, and impurities in the oil. With time, the oil gets thinner as it carries more contaminants. When the oil filter reaches its capacity, it lets unfiltered oil into the engine. Changing the oil filter ensures the engine gets clear oil all the time.
Q: How often should I replace my filter?
A: You should change the oil filter with every oil change. However, some filters have more durability than others, especially those with higher capacity, so they will require less frequent changes.
Q: Do road conditions affect the life and performance of the oil filter?
A: Yes. Dirt and debris on the road find their way into the engine. No matter the type of oil filter, the debris lands on the filter as the oil makes its way out of the engine. Eventually, the oil filter will need replacing due to the amount of dust and debris that end up in the oil.
For our best oil filter pick, we chose the FRAM XG7317 Ultra Synthetic Spin-On Oil Filter with SureGrip. This professional engine oil filter has a reasonable price and top-quality filtration capabilities. The pressure-relief valves maintain the oil supply inside the engine even in cold weather.
For the best value, we picked the Bosch 3330 Premium FILTECH Oil Filter. The FILTECH technology and large filtering surface give it a great filtration capacity. The vase, valves, and gasket are made of quality material for extra protection.