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Oil Filters, whose is best, and Why?

textruckrtextruckr Posts: 22
edited March 2014 in Ford
I was shocked this month to find out that the one brand I had really depended on in the past turned out to have the shoddiest construction!

For years I trusted Fram filters and used them exclusively. That is until I found out about how they are constructed. There is an excellent comparison study that can be found at:

I was shocked to find out that the filter element in the Fram filters was held in place by CARDBOARD. I even substantiated this by cutting the ones from my vehicles open and checking them out myself. It is true, they use cardboard.

I wish that the other filter manufacturers would adopt the really neat gripper surface on the top too. It is the only decent design characteristic on the Fram.

Since I have GM products, I have switched to the AC/Delco filters. I would use a WIX or Purolator if they were available at the parts stores near me.

Pay me now or pay me later - yeah, right. Allied Signal will not get any money from me in the future!


  • mrdetailermrdetailer Posts: 1,118
    While they still use a paper media, it's a lot thicker, and it doesn't cost as much as the synthetic filters. It's a good commpromise of price and performance.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    It can go on and on, have a couple dozen different views and opinions. Funny thing about it, is there really is no "best". Not that's been proven anyway.
    I can tell you this though, of all of the filters available, other than OEM, WIX and Fleetguard are 2 of the few that are approved by Cummins.
    That isn't an opinion.
    And when the debates start over who is the best, some things to remember.
    A large number of the filters available are made by a few large filter manufacturers under a different brand name.
    There are many different quality levels of most brands. So to say one is better than the other, which grade?
  • textruckrtextruckr Posts: 22
    That was one of the points I was hoping to make in my last post. That study drove home the point that there were only a few makers, but sold under different labels. The PennzOil and Quaker State filters are now made by Allied Signal (Fram). I am not sure how you would even say one filter is "best". There are so many different things that people want a filter to do - last 3K, 6K or even 10K miles, while offering the best filtering capacity, passing the least amount of contaminants, and all the while not being too restrictive and causing their oil pressure to read lower or bypass flow.
    I remember once while my wifes Saturn was in the dealers shop having a recall done, I got to talking with a tech about aftermarket parts. He was very adamant about not using any other filter except the Saturn one (has an anti-drainback valve, very important!). I told him I was happy with Fram - his reply was along the lines of well they may cause engine damage. It was very opportune that at that minute I just happened to look in his oil drain bucket and saw a Saturn (OEM) filter there. I pointed out the familiar Allied Signal printed on it, and then directed his attention to the same lettering on the Fram filter.
    His reply?
    Hmmmmm. I never knew that!
    The Oil Filter study I posted a link to also shows that Allied Signal has been making Mopar filters. I guess that it would be useful information to know which filters are made by whom. Since it appears to be easier to avoid one brand rather than choosing a "best" one, I just know that I will try to avoid any made by Fram

    Texas Trucker
  • armtdmarmtdm Posts: 2,057
    Not who makes the filter but under what specifications. For example, Baldwin is a huge manufacturer of filters make Amsoil/Hastings for one but all are made under different specs. So who makes it is not important, what is inside is. Almost every filter on the market has an anti drain back valve, question is which ones work better, which filters have more pleats and constructed better etc.

    My experience with oil analysis is that the following three filters are better at doing their job over extended drain intervals of 7,500-12,000 miles, better then OEM, at least in my Toyota's case
    Amsoil/Hastings, Mobil 1 and Pure One (not the Purolator Premium but the Pure One made by Puralator)
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Posts: 1,118
    You can't take a 1-3 dollar filter like lower end Fram, or Penzoil or Quaker State and expect them to run for 7,500 miles. The Jiffy lube places I know who put on these lower end filters place a label on the windshield recommending a change after 3,000 miles. I think if you followed manufacturer's recommendations and had engine problems due to lack of filtration, the owners of the low end filters would try to get out of liability because the filter was not designed for long term use.
  • edwardh5edwardh5 Posts: 130
    Who makes the Toyota and Honda filters youbuy from the dealers?
  • boat10boat10 Posts: 59

  • mrdetailermrdetailer Posts: 1,118

    I hope that car is as impressive in the long term as it appears in the showroom. If it does it will be in serious contention when I buy another vehicle in a few years.

    On filters, for me the answer is easy. Buy a good one. I like PureOne, Mobile one and WIX (Napa Gold). I put in synthetic and change the filter every 3,000 miles. Napa Gold goes in for the first 3,000 miles and then a synthetic filter like PureOne, or Mobile 1 for the second 3,000 miles. Yeah it costs another 15 bucks over 6,000 miles, but compared to an overhaul it is not worth skimping.

    For the 2 cars that run Dino, a blend actually, I use Napa Gold and change with the oil at 3,000 - 4,000 miles.

    I have been studying the Synthetic Vs Conventional oil for over a year. As you can see by my cars I am still divided on the issue.

    I like conventional oil for the following reasons. 1. Shorter change intervals. I know this sounds crazy, but many I know simply put in the oil at the change and never look at it again. (crazy, but common) Shorter changes help maintain proper fluid levels for these people. I also like because it is closer to a daily shower than a weekly one. The engine gets a wash more often. 2. Cost. It's definitely cheaper, and the newer oil actually meets some very high standards. It is much better than oil of even 10 years ago. 3. If changed within proper intervals there is insufficient proof to show that synthetic is actually better. The FTC has issued a statement to that effect. 4. Seal and gaskette problems are minimized. They are built for conventional oil. No, synthetic does not shrink seals, but the extra residue from conventional can block small leaks. Some engines actually have components that are not compatible with synthetic (Caprice) See Synthetic Oil subject in Edmunds.

    I like a PAO synthetic for these reasons: 1. Longer drain Intervals. For those that take good care of their vehicles and religiously examine the fluids at least monthly like I do it's not a problem. 2. Better cold weather starting. No wax to gel in very cold weather. Startups are quicker in winter. Some use synthetic in the winter because of it. 3. Doesn't degrade as fast. It holds up to excessive heat for hot weather 4 wheeling, trailor and boat hauling. 4. Lower oil consumption, less residue. Conventional has lighter elements that burn off and form an ash residue. Synthetic molecules are uniform and are less subject to burn off. Oil consumption is reduced. On my Subie it was cut by 66%. But Synthetic, is real expensive.

    Bottom line. I use synthetic in a car with a very hard working engine that has new seals throughout and doesn't display any leakage. I use conventional in one car that has a small leak. It drips enough anyway. In the other car I have 170,000 miles with dino and it appears to be running strong anyway. Why change?

    Personally, if I wanted to keep the engine in top condition I would go to synthetic after the first oil change, change filters at 3,000 miles, and never exceed the SEVERE schedule of 5,000 miles during the warranty period. I would use either the dealer or an oil change specialty shop (a matter of proof in case of problems). I would never exceed the time limit either. If it says 5,000 miles or 5 months change it at 5 months even if has only 1,000 miles. After the warranty I would extend the oil change to 6,000 miles and 6-9 month intervals with synthetic. From the information I can get, this is well within engine and oil tolerances, and will avoid the dreaded sludge.

    PS. You might want to consider 3 things for you tranny, a transmission cooler, synthetic fluid, and Lubegard.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    I didn't see FleetGuard in your list, have you tried them in your oil samples?

    You do realize that with the filter, a finer filter is not always the best. You want one that has a fairly good filtering ability, but also one with a pretty good filter capacity.
    When you start looking at particles in the oil, usually anything smaller than 20 microns goes thru the system without too much problems. It is the ones larger than that, that create the damage.

    So, when a company boasts a certain filter filters 5 microns, why?
    Doesn't need to.
    Pretty much the standard is 15 microns, so why does one need to go lower than that?
    While it is ideal to have zero particles in the oil, it isn't realistic.
    Also, no matter what filter it is and how they boast about a bypass, the oil filter housing has a relief, when the pressure of the oil filter or any other restriction for that matter hits a high enough pressure, it bypasses.

    Which brings up another subject, if a filter has too fine fitlering capabilities, like 5 micron, then if the filter reaches its capability, it will bypass and you won't even be aware of it.
  • adc100adc100 Posts: 1,521
    Very good- informative post. I think it really hits the mark on a lot of issues.

    Opatience- Just for your info. GM did a study whereby they found that filtering at 15 microns reduced engine wear vy 70% as oposed to 40 microns. Not really taking issue with what you are saying. My point is that 20 microns leaves room for improvement. I do know that you don't want to go too far though. I remember a Parker Rep once told me that filtering at the very low micron levels could result in filtering out the additives and that you actually got degredation at that point. Can't really prove it but this guy was pretty sharp.
  • john319john319 Posts: 37
    Correction, Pure One is not a synthetic filter. It had paper elements. Mobil 1 is synthetic however.
  • armtdmarmtdm Posts: 2,057
    Sorry, never heard of this one. Agree, most filters get down to 15 microns and bypass filters wil lget more plus moisture, not sure if the cost is worth it. Anyway, what I am interestin in looking at a filter it is the multiple pass test, who cares what the single pass efficiency rating is.

    What filters need is a way to know if the filter is full and it is bypassing, now there is no way to know this, we assume that it is getting there at some imaginery point, 3,000, 7,5000 etc but never really know.
  • rcarbonircarboni Posts: 290
    Good info on your dino vs. synth message. I want to add just a couple more advantages to synth if I might:

    - Using synth has shown that in some engines increased hp can be attained. Less drag I would presume. This also increases mpg. Likewise, this becomes a disadvantage to conventionals as they can decrease power as buildup occurs.

    - By extending drain intervals, less oil is used, resulting in less waste, and less pollution. As the amount of cars on the road has increased faster than population growth, used fluid pollutants will become more prevalent.

    Another possible correction to your info is that synth is not necessarily more expensive. I actually spend $15-20 less per year using extended drains with Amsoil compared to changing the oil at 3K intervals with dino.

    Obviously, if you want to be an oil filter fanatic, you should install a by-pass filter. Then you get the benefit of extreme extended drains without the worry. Add a pre-luber and your engine might never wear!
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Posts: 1,118
    john319 I didn't realize that PureOne was paper, some of my friends, and at least one of my mechanics absolutely love this filter.

    artdm: amsoil will send you an oil bible. This convinced me to go to finer filtration. But they also believe in very long intervals for filters. I don't. I religiously change the filters at 3,000 miles even with synthetic. I want to minimize wear. I get am trying to get 200,000 miles out of my cars and still enjoy driving the vehicle.

    fleetgard: I agaree that it would be nice if there could be a warning about when the filter was actually full. But in the meantime I err on the side of caution. This has been since I killed an engine in my younger days due to oil neglect. I can install a lot of Wix filters for the cost of the estimate I got on a bypass filter, so I don't feel they are worth it on my older cars.

    rcarboni: Yes, all of your additional arguments are ones to consider. As with all claims of reduced fuel consumption, it will be small but noticible. All the oil in our area is recycled and re-refined and sold to commercial fleets, or used to heat buildings. Synthetic also burns cleaner and puts fewer hydrocarbons in the air. You are completely right about long term cost. However in the short run it can be a bite. 99 cents vs 4.50.
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Posts: 1,118
    Also in my view a reason to use synthetic in newer engines. says the following:

    Automotive engine technology has been improving rapidly and engines are costly to replace and repair. Most consumers aren't aware that new engines are more sensitive to oil quality. New engines tend to die if the oil is over run.

    If you look at the engine sludge topic here, and on the toyota sienna site in you can see that if the oil is neglected, it turns into a goo so thick it has to be spooned out.

    Particulates in the oil are a major cause of sludge.
  • jinsongliujinsongliu Posts: 18
    How good is Toyota OEM filter? If I change to synthetic oil, can it hold a 5000 miles change interval?
  • armtdmarmtdm Posts: 2,057
    Toyota OEM are good and can go 5000 miles but my experience with oil analysis inidicates that the following three are better and can easily go 7,500 between changes.
    Mobil 1
    Pure One by Purolator
  • brorjacebrorjace Posts: 588
    Edward, I don't know who makes Toyota OEM filters. Honda filters are made in USA by Filtech (excellent) or in Canada by Fram (poor).

    I'm almost positive that AC Delco filters are made by a General Motors subsidiary. This is rare nowadays and GM may be abandoning this practice in the years ahead.

    Armtdm, I know that Baldwin/Hastings are the same company but is one of those brand names supposed to be better or a higher grade than the other? I just hacked apart a made-in-Canada Honda OEM filter and found what I had only heard rumors about ... they are actually Fram filters ... cardboard and all! The made-in-USA filters are made by Filtech have always been of excellent quality. I was really angry when I saw this. So, I'm looking for a better filter.

    I got a Baldwin for my 1990 Integra and it was a high-quality filter but, again, I wish they made them a little taller/longer for more capacity and filtration area. <:^(

    I'd use WIX or Napa Gold but the #1334 for the Honda is not great. You get a good-sized canister and quality construction ... but a fairly small filter cartridge inside. It's things like this that make me want to hack open one of every filter made ... just to be sure.

    The Mobil 1 filter for Hondas is too small in my estimation. Probably little surface/filtration area and a lesser capacity.

    Any oil filter I use will have tio endure 6,000-7,500 mile intervals as I have now switched to Redline Synthetic oil in my Civic. >:^)

    --- Bror Jace
  • armtdmarmtdm Posts: 2,057
    Baldwin makes many filters under different specs unfortunatley. I sooke with a few factory reps but they were completely unwilling to give any opinion on which filter they make was better.

    One thing about the Amsoil filters, the reps have a cross ref book and they suggest a larger capapcity filter if it will fit into the space. I also usually go with the larger filter for more oil and more filtering capacity.
  • adc100adc100 Posts: 1,521
    I wouldn't be too quick to write off the Mobil 1. It has fiberglass media instead of cellulose (paper). Information I have seen in Parker Filter Manual indicates that dirt capacity is double for fiberglass as compared to paper.
  • brorjacebrorjace Posts: 588
    I really wish these manufacturers would "come clean" with us on this stuff. You never know if their silence is a genuine indicator of possible trouble ahead or just some CYA legal mumbo-jumbo. <:^(

    I'm pretty sure I know of a couple local jobbers who carry the Hastings filters and I'll see if they have a similar cross-reference. I haven't seen a Baldwin filter since my last visit to Schnabel Autoparts in Rochester, NY back in 1993.

    I used to use a Wix filter #51344 instead of the shorter #51334 (spec'd for Honda) but then someone told me that the larger filter's bypass valve popped open at MUCH lower pressures and I might not have been doing my car any favors the whole time I was using them. >:^O

    adc100, yeah, I've been resisting using the Mobil 1 and K&N filters because of price, their small size and (with the Mobil 1) their lack of facets on the end of the canister. Perhaps its media really IS a lot better. I'll save it as a plan "B" or "C."

    Oh, and thanks for telling me about the car (Toyota?) that only had a few thousand miles on its Mobil synthetic oil but spent a good deal of the time just sitting. The oil was remarkably moisture-free. I still don't think I'd recommend the premium stuff for people who's cars aren't even on the road, though. >:^)

    --- Bror Jace
  • adc100adc100 Posts: 1,521
    I also have been using the Pure One lately. Even though I feel the Mobil 1 is better. Maybe its that neat blue color of the thing.

    Oh-I think I posted this a while back. But if you have issues with the facets and are looking at the finest removal wrench ever made- The Lisle 63600 can't be beat. You can buy cheaper than this link though. The pics take a little time to load.

  • rayfbairdrayfbaird Posts: 183
    I just saw a K&N filter at Checker Auto. The box said that it had a 10 micron filtration. It cost about the same as mobile one.

    Are these paper or Synthetic? What is anyone's experience with these?
  • adc100adc100 Posts: 1,521
    The question is this "nominal" or "absolute". If it's "nominal" it only filters at a 50% capture rate for 10 microns. If its "absolute" it filters at 98.7% - Big difference. Naturally they probably don't say. Not knocking the K&N, it's just so frustrating to get good information to make an intellignet decision!!
  • rayfbairdrayfbaird Posts: 183
    Here is the information I found on

    What makes K&N oil filters better?
    The K&N Performance Gold® Oil Filter has been constructed from the ground up to satisfy the high performance needs of race car owners and drivers, as well as the average vehicle owner who wants the very best oil filter available. Our oil filter's efficiency rating meets or exceeds the requirements of high performance automotive engine builders. The heavy duty construction provides over 550 PSI hydrostatic burst*, and helps reduce the risk of rock and stone damage.

    The real quality isn't just on the outside... the inner filter element traps contaminant as small as 10 to 20 microns in size. We use metal top end caps instead of paper to ensure that no unfiltered oil can get back into the system. The solid construction allows for oil flow rates between 12-16 gpm (depending on filter size), and is unaffected by racing fuels. All K&N Performance Gold® Oil Filters are manufactured to exacting engineering standards. They are covered by a limited warranty to be free from defects in materials and workmanship when installed and replaced using engine and equipment manufacturers recommended service interval
  • mrnimmomrnimmo Posts: 271
    are Purolator, at least the ones for my 94 Camry and 89 Van are. But, some manufacturers use different filters, ie Chrysler uses purolator, champion, and scrams/frams.

    Look at the base of the filters a few times. You'll be able to identify them. Scrams are the only ones I strictly avoid. They have small inlet holes. Cannot remember how many now, but take a look next time you are in a some discount place that sells those pieces of crap.
  • wh23fdctwh23fdct Posts: 18
    I am the official oil changer in my family, I couldnt meet my sisters busy schedule to change her oil so she went to ProLube and had it done. The next change I did, and you should have seen this piece of junk oil filter they used. The brand name was Mighty. This thing looked so cheap, Probally cost them $.99 no drain back gasket or anything. Word to the wise, Do it yourself if you want it done right. I lean tward using the Pure one as I cant see spending $10 For A K+N Oil filter.
  • tboner1965tboner1965 Posts: 647
    for our Duratec vehicles. (A 1998 Ford Contour SVT and a 2000 Mazda MPV)

    Some of the folks at have experienced some oil starvation related engine failures.

    The speculation, (and that is really all it is) is the Motorcraft FL820S (A Purolator PureOne) doesn't flow enough oil at high RPMs.

    I think the Duratec oil pump will move 12 GPM, but the Motorcraft filter will oil flow 3-4 GPM, while the K&N, as you have read above, flows more oil.

    It may not filter as well, but then I believe it is better to have oil that is a bit dirtier available, than to have the cleanest oil that cannot get through the filter.

    So in my household, I use the K&N in the high revving engines, and a Purolator PureONE in the Buick with the 3.8L iron lump.


  • adc100adc100 Posts: 1,521
    Maybe I need to look into the K&N. Haven't seen that brand since I bought K&N's for my 650 Kaw.

    If it has that high a flow rate it probably is a fiberglass media, which is good.

    On the other hand...

    "the inner filter element traps contaminant as small as 10 to 20 microns in size. We use metal top end caps instead of paper to ensure that no unfiltered oil can get back into the system."

    Even a 30 micron nominal filter (traps 50% of the 30 micron particles) will filter 10-20 micron particles. Again-lack of information. But that's typical-not just K&N. Thanks for the info.
  • brorjacebrorjace Posts: 588
    For the life of me, I don't know why the manufacturers don't use bigger, better oil filters on cars these days. Why not use a taller filter if you have the room? Most cars, like the Hondas I've owned, have room for an oil filter twice the current height/length.

    You'd get that much better flow from the increase in surface area and the cost would be mere pennies per new vehicle.

    Am I missing something?

    --- Bror Jace
This discussion has been closed.