The job of the engine oil filter is critical. The soup can-sized filter at the bottom of your engine needs to remove impurities and particles from your hard-working oil to avoid internal damage and costly repairs.
For this reason, you should make sure you change your oil filter every time you change your oil. If you’re a do-it-yourself oil change DIYer, it’s very important that you tighten the quality oil filter during your oil change. Almost all automobile manufacturers recommend that you do this. They know best how to protect your car’s engine because they want to minimize the cost of expensive warranty repairs.
How do you find the best oil filter for your vehicle? How much should you spend on it? The answers are not as complicated as you might think. Here’s how to find the best oil filter for your car at a great price.
Engine Oil Wear and Tear
Engine oil has an incredibly difficult task. To properly protect your highly complex, high-maintenance engine, the oil needs to travel through a large number of tight passages to lubricate dozens of fast-moving metal parts. The oil must flow throughout the engine almost instantaneously at startup. In addition, the oil must run trouble-free for months or thousands of miles in temperatures ranging from below freezing to hundreds of degrees Celsius.
During daily operation, the oil inevitably accumulates fine abrasive soot, dust, metal shavings and other impurities that slowly degrade the lubricating quality and effectiveness of the oil. Old, dirty oil can actually damage your engine’s bearings and other internal surfaces, leading to engine failure. Therefore, your engine absolutely needs a quality, efficient oil filter.
The Price of Oil Filters
The good news is that a quality oil filter doesn’t need to be expensive. You can find quality branded oil filters priced between $7-$15 from well-known brands like Mobile1, Bosch, Fram, Motorcraft, and more.
We did a quick search on Amazon for oil filters for one of our employee’s cars (1999 Mazda MX-5 Miata) and found filters ranging from $5 to $15 from well-known brands like Fram, Purolator, K&N, Wix, and Mazda. We would use any of these brands in our own cars.
K&N offers a useful feature on its so-called “performance wrench” style filters: a large nut on the outer end of the filter that can be tightened or removed with a standard wrench or socket. Most other filters do not have this feature, and if the filter is too tight to remove by hand, you will need to use a low-cost filter wrench to loosen it. (The round tool on the left in the picture is the wrench).
Changing the oil filter
Most oil filters are easy to change, so there’s no reason you can’t do it yourself. You must be able to get under the vehicle’s engine-either on a lift or on jack stands high enough so you can safely see, reach, remove, and replace the filter without much effort. (Some filters can be removed from the top of the engine compartment.) Here’s a Car and Driver video showing the steps for changing oil and filters.
Car oil filters
Oil filters are usually easy to find on the engine and easy to remove; simply unscrew them counterclockwise. Also, be kind to the environment; have a basin ready to collect the drained oil while you change your oil and oil filter. If you can’t do this job correctly, or don’t have the right place or tools, then you should pay a professional repair store to do it.
The best oil filters maintain at least 99% filtration with your oil (check your owner’s manual for recommended replacement intervals). Some filter brands advertise that they can filter oil for up to 7,500 or even 15,000 miles, but we recommend that you change your filter every time you change your oil. Why should I let clean oil pass through a dirty filter?