Home > Buying Guides >  

Protect Your Car With The Best Oil Filter

Maintain your engine by picking the right oil filters.

Best Overall Choice

WIX Filters - 51348 Spin-On Lube Filter

Check Latest Price

Best Budget Choice

FRAM PH7317 Extra Guard Passenger Car Spin-On Filter

Check Latest Price

Best Premium Choice

Royal Purple 341777 Extended Life Filter

Check Latest Price

changing oil filter

Oil filters are a crucial aspect to your vehicle’s maintenance. They help to keep your motor running reliably and smoothly at all times. Many people choose to perform their own oil changes to save money and maintain control of the quality. That’s why it’s imperative that you pick the best oil filter when changing your oil. After all, if you don’t take care of your engine, your vehicle is sure to fail on you down the road. We’ve put together this extensive review of the best oil filter options currently available to make the selection easier for you.

What is an Oil Filter?

Oil filters are one of the essential aspects of maintaining a car. It essentially filters out all the contaminants and small particles from your oil. It’s your engine’s first line of defense against any impurities. With your oil filter, the engine would wear out due to all the damage. Consider your oil filter operates much as your kidneys do on your body.

The oil filter contains many parts, including the filter medium, tapping plate, pleats center, anti-drain back valve, relief valve, steel tub, retainer, and end disc. The primary media filters particles that are as small as 25 to 30 microns. Then, the secondary media prevents particles as little as 5 to 10 microns from passing through. Longer filters are better because there are more contaminants filtered in the process.

Like air filters, fuel filters, and cabin air filters, these babies need to be changed if you want the best performance from your vehicle. Similar to an air filter, if your oil filtration device isn’t up to standard, you could damage your vehicle.

Types of Oil Filters

There are a bunch of varying types of oil filters, so it’s crucial you pick the best oil filter for your vehicle.

Mechanical Oil Filter

The filtering media in this product uses bulk materials such as pleated fiber paper or cotton waste. Then, the contaminants are suspended. As the dirt gets filtered out, the oil flow slows down due to the build-up of substances in the filter. They need to be replaced often.

Spin-On and Cartridge Oil Filter

Spin-On and Cartridge Filter

At first, oil filters featured a cartridge construction. This supplied a permanent housing with a replaceable media. Then, the spin-on assembly was unveiled. This features a self-contained housing with a component that’s replaceable. There are numerous products used for filtering out harmful elements, but now they tend to step away from the traditional materials such as cellulose, fiber paper, and cardboard.

Magnetic Oil Filter

These use electromagnets to suspend the particles separate from the oil flow. The best thing about having this type of filter is that you only have to clean the filter. While this makes oil changes easy, there might be some harmful effects of the filtering component.

Sedimentation Oil Filter

This is also referred to as a gravity bed oil filter. That’s because it allows the contaminants which are heavier than the oil to be suspended through the use of gravity.

Centrifugal Oil Filter

This filter operates like the sedimentation construction, but through a centrifuge design instead of with gravity. The oil flows through the housing into a drum rotor. This features two nozzles that allow the oil to settle. Then, the drum begins to rotate. The oil easily passes through to the motor, but the contaminants get stuck. Because of the design, it’s important they are cleaned regularly.

HE (High-Efficiency) Oil Filter

This works like a bypass filter which uses longer draining intervals. Because of the pore size, the engine wear is reduced. These are heavy duty filtre

Oil Filter Brands

Filter Brands

It’s never wise to purchase your oil filter from brands which aren’t reputable.  We favor five brands in particular if you need to know who’s trustworthy. Mobil 1 oil filters have been around longer than most companies and are known for their affordable filters. They average an efficiency of 99.6%, which is plenty for most vehicles. In addition, they utilize an aluminum canister to withstand maximum operating pressures.

Fram is the ideal brand if you’re operating on a budget because they’re some of the cheapest, yet still reliable filters on the market. The efficiency rating of these runs about 95%. A popular brand among performance enthusiasts is Royal Purple. They’re similar in design to the Mobil 1, but feature a thicker shell for maximum durability and to tolerate high pressures. The efficiency is 99% and they’ll filter out particles as tiny as 25 microns.

The Motorcraft oil filters use an innovative design that utilizes multi-pass efficiency. It filters out dust, metal bits, abrasives, and carbon with ease. They even have pressure relief valves to ensure that the oil supply is uniform even during colder temperatures. In addition, they feature a steel casing construction to prevent rust and corrosion.

ACDelco oil filters have a rating of 98% and collect particles as small as 25 to 30 microns because of the filtering nets. With their aluminum shell and thermosetting seal, these have a high tolerance and offer superior performance no matter what the weather is.

Choosing the Best Oil Filter for Your Vehicle

When you set out to purchase the best oil filter, it helps if you know what to look for.

Type of Filter

You need to know what kind of filter your vehicle runs. If you choose the wrong one, it might not attach properly. This leads to leaking. Turn to your owner’s manual or local parts store to figure out what’s best for your car’s needs. Many locations feature an oil filter lookup so you can find the model perfect for you. Check with your original equipment manufacturer, and give them your year, make, model details to ensure you get parts that fit correctly!

Material

Oil filters feature different filtration media. Most of them come with either synthetic materials, micro glass, or cellulose. The cellulose construction suspends the contaminants that are 8 to 10 microns in size and cleans anywhere through 40% of the oil. These need to be replaced most often.

Most high-quality oil filters use synthetic media. That removes 50% of particles from 20 to 40 microns in size plus 24% of the microns ranging from 8 to 10 microns. You don’t need a special oil filter to use synthetic oil though!

Micro glass, on the other hand, is the preferred media for the highest line of oil filters. That’s because they produce less oil flow restriction, so you don’t need to change them that often.

Capacity

An oil filter’s capacity refers to the ability it has to hold the contaminants. This number is determined by the media used combined with the quality of build. The higher the capacity, the longer you’ll go between filter changes, which saves you money and time.

Most of the filters have capacities that hold at least 10 grams. If you reach capacity, the unfiltered oil passes through seamlessly which is why you need to replace them as recommended.

Durability

You want a replacement oil filter constructed from the best materials to ensure it holds up to high pressure and remains durable. The best oil filters are built from aluminum or steel instead of plastic.

Easy to Install

You need to be able to replace your filter by yourself, without help from anyone. This is true whether you’re a mechanic or simple home user. With that said, not every design is easy to install which is why you must consider the flexibility before making a purchase. Watch the housing design, weight, and size of the filter you seek to purchase. Even exact fit parts can be tricky to install.

How Often Should I Replace the Oil Filter?

This is a common question that doesn’t have a straightforward answer. Just like your oil needs to be changed regularly, the filter must be maintained as well. Your filter works to keep you running smoothly, so you must take care of it. Otherwise, you’ll allow contaminants to build-up and make their way into your engine. Most people change their filter every time they perform an oil change. Most of the time, this occurs every 3 to 6 months but depends on the vehicle you own and the type of oil you use.

Signs Your Oil Filter is Failing

Most times you can’t tell that your filter is about to fail until your engine doesn’t run as smoothly. Many filters have a safety feature that allows the unfiltered oil to circulate when it doesn’t work properly. That’s because having contaminated oil is better than having none. Even still, there are some clear symptoms your car will express to get your attention when the filter needs to be changed.

  • Your engine light might turn on.
  • Oil begins leaking from your vehicle due to the lack of capability.
  • Engine starts to overheat.

The Ten Best Oil Filters Reviewed

Here are our picks for the ten best oil filters. Remember to make sure you get the one that fits your car’s engine.

Best Overall Choice

1. WIX Filters - 51348 Spin-On Lube Filter

Check Latest Price

This spin-on filter utilizes a pleated paper construction to filter out debris and dirt from the oil. What most people like about this style of filter is the ease of installation. They also don’t require much maintenance. While they aren’t as cheap as a Fram filter, they’re on the inexpensive side, but also feature high customer ratings.

The filter comes with a mounting plate, gasket, inner element tube, and center tube. The best part about these is that you don’t even need an oil filter wrench for installation or removal.

2. Purolator PL14610 PurolatorONE Filter

Purolator PL14612 PurolatorONE Oil Filter

Check Latest Price

While these are priced comparably to the lower-priced filters, they have something extra going for them. This is a top-ranked filter when evaluating based on the SAE filtration test. They last for 10,000 miles and promise 99% dirt removal.

There’s a silicone anti-drainback valve which lasts longer compared to a convention nitrile. This protects you from oil leaks and dry starts. In addition, this design features metal end caps which offer integrity and stability for wear resistance. The long-lasting, durable PTFE-coated design is also simple to remove and install.

Best Budget Choice

3. FRAM PH7317 Extra Guard Passenger Car Spin-On Filter

Check Latest Price

At some of the lowest prices on the market, FRAM is a leader for people that want to stick to their budget and protect their engine. You’ll be able to get one of these filters for about half the price as a Royal Purple or Mobil 1 filter.

They also feature 95% efficiency, so it isn’t as good as many of the others. If you change your oil every 5,000 miles, you should be able to use these filters without an issue.

4. ACDelco PF2232 Professional Engine Oil Filter

Check Latest Price

If you want a reasonably priced option that protects your engine with an efficiency rating of up to 98%, the ACDelco line is a great place to start. It’s effective at removing debris as tiny as 30 microns. While the aluminum shell isn’t quite as durable as some others, there’s plenty of durability for the average user. In addition, it has a thermosetting adhesive seal to prevent leaks.

ACDelco Professional is compatible with 97% of vehicles, so you should have no trouble getting the one that fits your needs. ACDelco is used by many professional shops, so you know you’re getting a high-quality filter for your vehicle with this option.

5. Bosch 3330 Premium FILTECH Oil Filter

Check Latest Price

Bosch makes almost every engine component you might need, so it makes sense to trust them with your filter. This one uses their patented FILTECH screen which achieves virtually flawless efficiency. The aluminum shell paired with a steel base plate prevents warpage from the high pressure and heat.

The silicone anti-drain-back valve helps to prevent you from dry starts. The company recommends using Castrol motor oil in conjunction with this filter for the best results. In addition, you can expect easy removal even though there’s a high lubricity gasket design that provides a tighter seal.

Best Premium Choice

6. Royal Purple 341777 Extended Life Filter

Check Latest Price

This Royal Purple filter is the cream of the crop, providing superior protection for performance engines. This extended life filter uses micro-glass which removes debris down to 25 microns. It’s rated at 99% efficiency, so you know your engine is safe.

The aluminum shell is extra thick to add durability. In addition, it comes with an anti-drain-back-valve that’s made with silicone and helps to prevent dry starting. We especially like the metal end-caps which provide a positive seal plus the heavy-gauge steel back that offers higher burst strength.

7. Mobil 1 M1-110 Extended Performance Oil Filter

Check Latest Price

This is always one of the best oil filters to purchase because of the advanced synthetic fiber construction that removes contaminants at a 99.6% efficiency rating. The aluminum canister is also sturdy and holds up under 615 PSI worth of pressure.

There’s also an anti-drain-back valve which prevents dry starts. When compared to many other filters, this one holds 28 grams of capacity, which is about double.

8. Motorcraft FL820S Silicone Valve Oil Filter

Check Latest Price

Here’s another budget-friendly option for you to consider when looking for the best oil filters. Use this filter to reduce dirt and debris in your standard engines. Even though it features a low price, it still comes with the silicone anti-drain back so you don’t experience dry starts.

The pressure relief valve prevents oil from circulating back, which is helpful in cooler weather. The steel case also provides you with a precise fit and it will hold up to 12 grams, which is sufficient for your 5,000-mile oil change schedule.

9. K&N HP-1008 Performance Wrench-Off Oil Filter

Check Latest Price

If you need the best oil filters for your SUV, truck, or car, then K&N is another fabulous option. They’re not overly priced but feature many high-performance aspects. The heavy-duty construction withstands even the most extreme conditions plus traps 99% of contaminants.

With the 1-inch nut, filter removal is simple. In addition, they feature the anti-drain back valve which eliminates any dry starts. It’s the ideal solution for those that need to stick to a budget but still want a high-quality filter.

10. Mann-Filter HU 816 X Metal-Free Oil Filter

Check Latest Price

If you need a BMW filter, the Mann is the best way to go. It comes with everything you need and contains a specially designed pleat formation for additional filtering. This high capacity filter stores the impurities it removes from your oil.

Because of the design, this filter is also easily recyclable, which makes it ideal for anyone that cares about the environment. The downside is that these are a little more complicated to put on than most filters. That isn’t because of the construction, but mainly just because of the BMW setup. If you aren’t sure how to get one of these on properly, it’s best to consult with a trained mechanic instead.



How To Change An Oil Filter – 11 Easy To Follow Steps

1. First, locate where the oil drain plug is and put a drain pan underneath it.
2. Unscrew the oil fill cap and let the oil drain out. Make sure that you quickly remove your hand as you are removing the cap because the oil will immediately start flowing. To protect your hands from the oil, you can wear gloves.
3. Once the oil is drained, put the cap back, making sure that you don´t cross-thread it. Tighten the plug by hand and you can also use a wrench to snug it up. Never over-tighten the plug.
4. The next step is to locate the oil filter.
5. Move the oil drain pan underneath the filter.
6. Grab and twist the filter but if you see that it is stuck, use a key such as an oil filter wrench or even a simple pipe wrench to unscrew it. Remember that it will unscrew only if you turn it counterclockwise. The oil will leak out when the filter comes off so be ready for it.
7. Wipe off the mounting surface using a clean cloth.
8. Before installing the new filter, lubricate its gasket by putting a little fresh motor oil around it.
9. Use your hand to screw the filter on and tighten it until it makes contact with the engine block. Do not use a wrench to push it further.
10. Take a clean funnel and pour in an adequate amount of fresh oil.
11. Put the cap back.
12. Check the level of the oil and during the next days, also check the filter and the drain plug for leaks.

How To Remove A Stuck Oil Filter

Often times, the oil filter gets stuck and it is difficult to unscrew it by hand. This happens either because people do not oil the gasket before installation or they over tighten the filter. Here is what to do when you have to deal with a stubborn oil filter:

  • First, you will want to try loosening it by hand. Just make sure that your hands are not oily or slippery and if so, you can wear gloves. Be careful with hot filters and remember to turn the filter to the left.
  • If your filter is stuck, then you will have to use a key to remove it. There are different tools for this purpose such as an oil filter cup wrench, a chain extractor, or an extractor type octopus, but if you don’t have any of those, you can try using a pipe wrench.
  • If nothing of the above works and as a last resort, you will need to use a screwdriver and a hammer. This method can be a bit messy and is less easy than the other methods, but it is 100% effective. Use a screwdriver to make a hole in the back of the filter body, hitting it with a hammer. Once the screwdriver pierces the metal from one side to the other, you can use it as a handle and start rotating the filter.


Frequently Asked Questions

How Tight Should An Oil Filter Be?

You may have heard before that oil filters should not be over tightened but, then, what is the right level of tightness and how can you be sure that you haven’t overdone it? It’s simple.

Use your strong hand to spin the filter slowly until the gasket makes contact with the engine block. Then, tighten it by giving it no more than half a turn. This will ensure that the filter is securely fitted and not too tight.

Avoid using any type of tool to screw it as it can cause damage, for example, a crease or a dent that can lead to a crack. Using a key can also tighten the filter too much. Such tools should only be used to remove an old filter and not install a new one.

What Is A Synthetic Oil Filter?

A synthetic oil filter is a filter that is made using synthetic materials. When combined with synthetic oil, these types of filters are better at filtering small contaminants and they will last longer, which practically translates to fewer visits to the mechanic for changing the filter.

Synthetic oils are proven to be more resistant to extreme temperatures and help the engine run smoother but they are more expensive than common motor oils.

If you choose to use a synthetic oil lubricant for your engine, keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to couple it with a synthetic oil filter, any good quality automotive filter with maximum mile protection and high efficiency will do the job perfectly.



Brian Jones
About Brian Jones

I am an ASE Certified Master Tech, but spend more time with my awesome family now than I do on cars. In my spare time, you'll still find me playing with tools, cars and many other "manly" gadgets.