by Pat Goss
Every bottle of engine oil has its rating and weight clearly marked so consumers always know what they’re getting. But, what about oil filters? Well, they all may look pretty much alike. But as Pat Goss explains: looks can be deceiving.
PAT GOSS: Don't save four dollars on an oil filter and cost yourself two or three thousand dollars in engine repairs. That can happen. You look inside a modern engine, and you see things like valve timing phasers, and hydraulic tensioners, and chain guides, and all kinds of things that operate on oil pressure, and most all of them have these tiny little passages for the oil to flow through. Put a cheap filter on it, and either the filter comes apart or dirt gets into the system, blocks one of those passages, and something like the chain tensioner doesn't work anymore. The chain starts slapping around, breaks the guides, and the parts of the guides get circulated through the engine—you've got a mess on your hands. Thousands of dollars in repair.
Here's one that, that actually happened to, at least the filter from one. If we shine a light in here, we can see that the media has actually separated, and there's a hole in there where the medium material went through and into the oiling system. It caused a lot of damage to the engine.
Now, oil filters, everybody's concerned with the paper media, but there's a lot more to the filter than that. There are pressure springs inside, there are check valves, the end caps are made out of different weights of metal, there are more or fewer threads in the cap, and so on.
But, all of that may become moot at some point, because most manufacturers are now doing away with the metal can, and going with a filter like this—this is a cartridge type. The can or canister that it goes into is mounted to the engine, and it stays with the engine forever. Now this saves waste and a whole bunch of things, plus all of the check valves and everything are now part of the engine, so there's no question about their quality.
Now, the real thing here: buy a high quality filter that is tailored to your car. Or better yet, spend a couple dollars more, buy the original equipment filter from the dealer. That way, you know 100% that all of the parts of that filter are going to match your engine. And if you have a question or a comment, drop me a line, right here, at MotorWeek.