What is the Best Oil Filter in 2020?

If you are in a hurry and just want to find out what the best motor oil filter is, then we recommend Bosch 3300 Premium FILTECH Oil Filter as the best one.

Changing your oil regularly is one of the basic maintenance rules that most vehicle owners know. Oil filters, however, don’t get nearly the same attention and care.

Most drivers don’t know how important the oil filter is. And they don’t know that they should change the oil filter at every oil change, or every 3-6 months. And they end up with increased engine wear and damage.

But luckily here you are, and you’re already one step ahead of the conventional driver. Read on to find out what makes a great oil filter, what are the best oil filter brands, and how to choose the best oil filter for your vehicle.

Here are the best motor oil filter brands we recommend:

Check our step-by-step guide below to select the right model for your vehicle!

What is an Oil Filter anyway?

Your vehicle engine, and generally all engines, rely on oil for operation. Oil serves three main functions:

  • lubrification
  • cooling
  • cleaning

Oil’s main job is to lubricate components: it creates a thin cushioning film between parts that prevents them from touching and rubbing together as the engine runs.

It reduces friction, thus cooling the involved components.

And as it circulates, it cleans the engine, carrying away dust, dirt, and combustion residues to the oil filter to be captured.

And this last point should give you the idea underlying the engine oil filter: it is a component through which the oil flows and gets purified from the dirt particles.

If the filter weren’t there, the oil wouldn’t be cleaned, and it would actually spread the particles around all of the engine. The particles would void that cushioning oil film between parts, and get rubbed together with the various moving components, ruining them. The engine would soon break down.

How does the Oil Filter Work?

Now that we have the basic idea down, let’s dive a little bit deeper in the actual functioning of the oil filter.

An oil filter is a unit that is mounted on your engine. The oil system then runs (pumps) oil through the filter to get the oil cleaned.

This video explains the inner workings of the filter in animated detail.

Why should I Care about my Oil Filter?

Well, the oil filter as it holds back impurities, actually gets dirtier and dirtier as time goes by. Eventually, the filter will get clogged and oil will not be able to flow through it anymore.

If this happens, you’re in big trouble.

If the filter has no pressure-relief (a.k.a. bypass) valve, then it will likely get severely damaged along with the entire engine oil system. This in turn may lead to your engine running without sufficient oil and thus to catastrophic damage.

If the filter has a bypass valve, then, because of the pressure build-up, the valve would open up and let the oil flow through it bypassing the filter. This will at least give oil to the engine. However, the oil won’t be filtered. It will be as if the filter weren’t there. Dirty oil is better than no oil. But the dirty oil will soon damage the engine just as well.

Long story short, you don’t want your oil filter to get too dirty and clogged up. The solution you ask? Changing it. Regularly.

When should I Change the Oil Filter?

As always, your vehicle owner’s manual is your guide. Oil filters usually have a mileage-related expiration, e.g., replace after 5000 miles. You should remember, however, that this is just an estimate.

Since the amount of dirt that gets in the engine is also related to the environment you drive in and your driving habits, manufacturers may also give you a time-based expiration, e.g., every 3-6 months.

A good general recommendation? Change the filter with every oil change. This simplifies things and reduces the amount of stuff you have to remember for your vehicle maintenance. In fact, that’s probably what the owner’s manual will recommend as well.

One caveat? Be sure that the oil expiration, and thus the oil change, comes sooner than your filter expiration. This is very much an edge case, but it could be possible with custom oil and filter combinations.

How to Change your Vehicle Oil and Filter

Most mechanics won’t charge you too much for an oil and filter change.

However, they may be using cheap oil and very cheap filters.

That’s why it pays to bring your own oil and filter: you’ll be sure to be using the best motor oil and the best oil filter, and the service charges will be definitely lower.

Changing it completely by yourself is not complicated, but it is a bit of a dirty job. If you do decide to go the DIY route and change it yourself (kudos to you!), check out our Ultimate Guide to Motor Oil to learn how it’s done.

What Makes a Great Oil Filter?

There are very many ways to professionally evaluate an oil filter.

The most widely used indicator has the form “x% dirt removal efficiency at greater than y microns”. For example, a “99% dirt removal efficiency at greater than 20 microns” oil filter rating. Though it sounds very fancy, what that means is actually pretty simple: the filter will remove 99% of the particles that are greater than 20 microns. A micron by the way is a micrometer, that is a millionth of a meter. Generally speaking a greater efficiency at a lower size will mean a better filter.

Other variations are sometimes used too. If you’re feeling particularly nerdy you can check out this video going into more detail.

Generally speaking, synthetic filters will have a greater efficiency. By the way, synthetic filter just means that the filter media is made up of synthetic fibers. It has nothing to do with synthetic oil. You don’t need a special filter for synthetic oil. All automotive filters that are made for modern vehicles can be used with any type of oil. Therefore, the overall best oil filter will also be the best oil filter for synthetic oil.

However, filtering efficiency is just one aspect of a good filter. Another important attribute is the filter capacity. That is how many grams of dirt is the filter able to hold before getting filled (i.e., clogged). A filter with a 10-gram capacity is able to hold up to 10 grams of dirt before getting clogged. The greater the filter capacity, the higher its durability.

Finally, an even more important aspect is build quality. If the filter is poorly built you could be in for a world of trouble:

  • absence of a pressure-relief valve
  • defective bypass valve, not opening when it should or opening when it shouldn’t
  • absence of an anti-drain back valve
  • poor gasket not sealing properly, leaving you with a leaky filter
  • cheap structure not able to withstand the ordinary wear and tear

That’s why it’s fundamental to buy a solid, great-quality filter. The oil filter is not a part you want to cheap out on.

These are the Best Oil Filter Brands

In an oil filter, the construction tells you pretty much all you need to know. Low-quality materials like plastic, rubber, or cardboard wear out quickly, and are indicators of a cheap, low-quality filter.

In our experience, from our analyses and oil filter reviews, these are the best oil filter brands that consistently deliver high-quality, durable, and extremely efficient filters. All of them are greatly-built, coming in a durable housing, with pressure-relief and anti-drain back valves.

Bosch

Bosch is a world-famous German multinational engineering and technology company. Their filters, based on their exclusive FILTECH media technology, are the best of the best.

FILTECH technology expands the filtering surface to trap more contaminants than other oil filters. It’s also 30 percent thicker than the media in other filters for higher capacity and better protection. Their filters are strongly-built, coming in a tough, leakproof steel housing and a high lubricity gasket for a secure application.

Top recommended models include the Bosch 3300 Premium FILTECH Oil Filter and the Bosch 3410 Premium FILTECH Oil Filter.

Motorcraft

Motorcraft is the current auto parts brand of the American automotive corporation Ford Motor Company. Aside from providing the original parts of all current Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury cars, the oil filter made by the company fits into many car makes and models.

They are great, top-rated oil filters. They cover all bases and offer excellent value for the price.

Some of their most recommended products include the Motorcraft FL-2016 Oil Filter and Motorcraft FL-500S Oil Filter.

FRAM

FRAM is another great all-American brand of automotive replacement parts. They offer a variety of oil filters for most car makes and models.

Their Ultra Synthetic line is excellent, capturing 99+% of particles greater than 20 microns. The filter’s components are made from high-grade materials. And the SureGrip anti-slip coating is a nice touch for easy installation and removal. Additionally, because of their incredibly high mileage tolerance (up to 12500 miles, or 20000 km), you could say these are the best oil filters for synthetic oil.

Some of their most recommended models are the FRAM XG7317 Ultra Synthetic Oil Filter and FRAM XG3614 Ultra Synthetic Oil Filter.

How to Choose the Best Oil Filter for Your Vehicle

Alright, alright, but how do I select the best oil filter for my vehicle? What oil filter do I need?

Well, glad you asked! What we recommend you do is simple.

First of all, beware of blind recommendations for a particular filter. There are many models of filters because vehicle oil filter sockets are not all equal.

Rather, what we recommend you do is trust one of the best oil filter brands we recommended before. They provide great motor oil filters that are consistently rated as the best in the industry.

And most of these brands provide a website with a specialized search function to help you select the right oil filter model for your vehicle.

Then, you just take note of the right model for your car and buy it.

Here’s a step-by-step procedure:

  1. Select one of the recommended oil filter brands. We recommend Bosch as the best oil filter brand with the largest selection.
  2. Go to the brand website and search for your exact vehicle model to obtain the recommended motor oil filter specific for your vehicle.

    These are the search pages of the recommended best oil filter brands:

    • Bosch (press on “Add a Vehicle” to verify compatibility)

    • FRAM
  3. Once you have the brand’s recommendation for the right oil filter for your vehicle, simply plug it in the search box below to get the best price on Amazon and buy it (if you can’t see the search box then please disable your ad blocker for this site).

Conclusion

Now you know why choosing the best oil filter – and changing it regularly – is fundamental for your vehicle maintenance.

Bosch’s 3300 Premium FILTECH Oil Filter is the best overall model we recommend again and again. And it has yet to disappoint.

Should you need a different model for your vehicle, just follow the step-by-step procedure above. You’ll be sure to select and buy the best oil filter for your vehicle and needs.

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