Prone to damage, your vehicle’s engine needs a quality oil filter to extend its life and optimize performance. Your oil filter ensures the oil you put in your vehicle is free of impurities and debris; both can wreak havoc on your engine, causing damage, reducing your engine’s life, or severely decreasing your engine’s power.
A good quality filter keeps more than just dirt from your engine:
- Metal particles
- Oxidized oil
- And more
Even the highest quality oil cannot do its job unless you have paired it with the best oil filter for your vehicle. Finding the perfect filter for your vehicle can be like discovering a needle in a haystack. Today’s market brings various brands and styles, each seemingly with their special uses and fancy terminology. Maybe you are familiar with some of them. Maybe you have never purchased or changed an oil filter before. Either way, this guide helps you by sifting through the best oil filter brands and models while turning you into an informed consumer.
Terms to Know
You will see many of these words in product descriptions, advertising, and the reviews here as well as the internet. Familiarizing yourself with them helps you to be a knowledgeable consumer and, if needed, troubleshoot problems should any arise from installing or using an oil filter.
- Tapping plate—entry and exit for motor oil on the filter
- Filter medium—metal, glass, or synthetic fibers that reduce contaminants entering your oil. Often a brand patents their technology under a specific name, like Bosch’s FILTECH
- Anti-drain valve—prevents oil from draining when vehicle isn’t turned on/is sitting
- Relief valve—helps in starting cold engines
- Pleating—offers more surface area for more filtering
- Contaminant capacity—some brands offer the amount of dirt their filters will hold
- Gasket—stops oil from leaking out and onto your engine
- End disk—stops unfiltered oil from reaching your engine
- Center tube—often made from steel and provides filtered oil to your vehicle’s engine
- Efficiency rating—this is the percentage a product receives after completing the ISO 4548-12 test. This 86-minute test counts up and downstream particles.
Types of Oil Filters
- Primary—this is the factory installed oil filter on your vehicle. Another name for them is full-flow filters. They filter 100%, but they have lower flow restrictions too.
- Secondary—some vehicles come with a secondary filter, which works separate from the primary filter. Typically, this filter provides you with an additional 1-10% of screening. They increase the time required for oil and filter changes.
- Conventional—often uses cellulose membranes and requires you to replace it frequently.
- Thermal chamber—a two-part system that both cleans and heats oil. This type of filter can reduce your fuel efficiency since it uses electricity.
- Spin-on/Spinner—a two-section design uses a spin motion to trap dirt and contaminants. The metal housing allows you to replace the inside filter every 3,000 miles or 3 months.
- Magnetic—this filter removes metallic impurities, but aren’t effective with dust.
Media Filter Materials
- Cellulose—commonly found in disposable filters and it’s effective at cleaning up to 40% of your oil while straining particles. Consider changing it every 3,000 miles.
- Microglass—usually a mesh screen that doesn’t restrict flow, but the medium still manages to screen out small and large particles. This type of filter requires changing far less frequently at 10,000 miles.
- Synthetic media blend—this media is efficient at removing large and small particles. You’ll change filters with this media type every 5,000-7,000 miles.
Best Oil Filter Brand
Who makes the best oil filter? The answer is not as simple as stating one company outperforms all others. You have many factors to consider when making a choice, and what works for one person’s vehicle is unlikely to work for yours unless they’re the same vehicle and running the same oil. However, the following companies have been consumer, independent third party, and factory tested. Many of these names have more than 40 years of quality and customer satisfaction under their belts, and they stand out from other competitors because they make a superior product designed to protect and maintain engine health.
- Mobil 1
Determining the Optimal Oil Filter for Your Vehicle
The following questions are points you should consider before choosing any oil filter. When in doubt, do not hesitate to reference your user manual. This is especially handy for obtaining recommended oil change times and other basic maintenance information.
Will it fit your vehicle?
Understand the type of filter you need for your vehicle and that filters vary widely between vehicle makes, models, and production years. You wouldn’t want to install a motorcycle filter in a car or use a synthetic rated filter with regular oil. This is why if you were to ask three people, who drive different vehicles, what they believe is the best oil filter, you will receive three different answers.
Diesel engines, motorcycles, and some cars/trucks require specific filters for not only performance, but also for proper fit. An ill-fitting filter does little to screen particles and dirt. It can lead to oil leakage as well as engine damage. Always check that the filter you are using can be used in your vehicle.
Will it work with the oil you already use/plant to use?
Some companies specifically make filters suitable for synthetic oils, blends, or regular motor oil. A few select brands note the oil they recommend to use with their filters for optimal performance. Another handful work well regardless of the oil type or brand. It is always a good idea to check with your owner’s manual and the filter manufacturer before using.
Does it meet your specific mileage needs?
Different brands and models of filters have different ratings and standards. In the product reviews, your expected mileage and, where applicable, the amount of dirt each filter can hold is noted. The dirt rating lets you know how often you can expect to change your filter (and oil). High-performance models typically last longer, for example.
Does it meet your local road conditions?
Heavy traffic, stop and go traffic, and towing all affect your oil filter’s performance and life. If you frequently find yourself in these situations, you should look into high-performance filters. Otherwise, you might find yourself needing to change your filter more often than typically recommended. Extreme weather conditions, such as cold, frequent snow/rain, and heavy pollution, can lessen the life of your filter if you are not using a high-performance model in your vehicle.
What is the Best Oil Filter in 2020?
Rated the best oil filter for synthetic oil from FRAM and on the market. The XG7317 uses dual layered technology to protect your engine. Delivering up to 15,000 miles of filtration, the FRAM Ultra Synthetic Oil Filter traps and holds microscopic dirt without impeding oil flow. Changing your oil filter is a snap too, thanks to the SureGrip technology found on all FRAM oil filters.CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
The 3323 works best with Castrol motor oil and uses FILTECH technology for screening more contaminants from your oil. This filter holds up to 14g of dirt from entering your engine and maintains a 99% efficiency, courtesy of the extra glass screen in their construction. You can expect upwards of 10,000 miles on a single filter.CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
With a multi-pass efficiency rating of 99.6% and high capacity, it is no wonder this is one of the top recommended brands for use in diesel vehicles. This is a hybrid filter that works with any oil, including synthetic and blends; however, it offers the best performance when used with Mobil 1 brand oils. The M1-110 is the best oil filter for 6.7 Cummins. It receives top ratings as the best oil filter for Duramax too. Limited or extended warranty is available.CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
Regarded as one of the best oil filters for everyday use and it is the best oil filter for suppressor. The PH16 is ideal if you frequently change your oil (about every 5,000 miles) and use conventional oil in your vehicle. You can use it with synthetic oil too. This filter provides 95% superior dirt trapping and holding for its lifespan.CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
Engineered by Motorcraft for Ford Motor Company, this filter is best for Ford modular engines, but performs well in other Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury compatible vehicles too. The FL820S screens out abrasives from your oil before they can reach your engine. A pressure-relief valve reduces contaminated oil from recirculating to your engine. Unlike some filters, this model comes highly recommended for cold weather use.CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
The HF204RC is the top rated filter for use in Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Artic Cat, MV Agusta, and Triumph motorcycles. While marketed for racing use, it performs well for daily use too. It is also the only TUV certified oil filter (independent, 3rd party product testing for OEM parts) on the market. You can use this model with any oil type too.CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
Possibly one of the best oil filters (OEM) for BMW car and light truck models. As the name implies, this filter has no metal housing, yet it remains 99% efficient in both filtering and removing dirt. This is due to the pleat design.CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
Ranked well for its heavy-duty use that includes towing, heavy traffic, and varied weather conditions. Offers you 99% dirt removing power over its 10,000-mile lifespan. The PL14612 offers optimal performance with synthetic or high-mileage oils in most domestic and imported vehicles.CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
Finding the right filter to meet your needs doesn’t have to be difficult. Understand what your vehicle requires first. After that, you’ll easily be able to choose the best oil filter that fits your needs. Don’t forget to maintain your engine’s health with regular oil and filter changes too.
If you found this article useful, check out our piece on the engine degreasers that we most recommend.