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Home / Articles / Columnists / Happy Motoring /  How to choose the right oil filter for your vehicle
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Monday, May 6,2013

How to choose the right oil filter for your vehicle

By Teresa Aquila  

Engine maintenance is critical when extending the life of your vehicle. There is a lot of information available about the differences in oils and other maintenance components, but what no one explains is what to look for in an oil filter.


The oil filter serves as the lifeblood for your engine. It is important because it cleans the oil and is capable of filtering high volumes of oil with relatively low restriction. How do you know which filter to choose and what are the differences between styles? Well, let me explain.

The shell is the outside casing you see when the filter is installed. It keeps your filter safe during the wear and tear on your vehicle, and protects it from punctures.

The interior is the filtering component.

Depending on the level of filter you chose, it can be described as a maze of cellulose, synthetics and/or microfibers that remove the harmful debris from your engine oil.

The core is the part of the filter that helps the filter keep its shape and prevents it from collapsing under extreme pressure. It is inserted inside of the filter and can be made of a variety of materials.

The base plate is the threaded component of the oil filter. In addition to providing the threaded attachment for the filter, it directs the oil flow through the filter. Some special filters actually have a pressure regulator installed within the filter core.

The gasket is the rubber ring that seals the filter to the engine´s oil filter base. This gasket is typically made of flexible rubber. Many times when the car owner performs the oil change, this gasket can be stuck to the engine and after installing the new filter and adding the engine oil, you will experience an oil leak. So be sure to observe that the old oil filter gasket was removed.

Now that you understand the components of an oil filter, it›s easy to see that not all oil filters are the same. There are some key differences in the quality of oil filter you are purchasing.

Most economy filters are very basic and last for a limited time in comparison to the higher end filters. These filters use media of natural wood fibers to sort out the debris in your oil.

The better filter contains media that is a blend of fibers. The majority of the fibers are cellulose with a minimal blend of synthetic fibers that enhance the media strength and efficiency performance.

The best or premium level of filters use microglass filter technology.

Advanced micro-glass oil filters are designed to extend the life of vehicle and equipment. In addition to superior filtration media, the other internal and structural components are of higher quality materials, making for easier installation and removal as they are much less prone to crush while installing or removing. High end oil filters can extend change intervals up to 12,000 miles.

Vehicles still under warranty should follow the vehicle manufacturer´s recommended filter change intervals. If you want economy or higher end filters, the choice is yours. Just remember, you get what you pay for.

Happy Motoring!

By Teresa Aquila Teresa is a top-notch mechanic with more than 28 years of experience repairing everything from Porsches to school buses. Currently she teaches a basic auto-repair class for women.


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