Who gives a crap about oil filters? What's an oil filter ever done
Oil filters perform a very important function. Bits
of metal chip off of various engine parts during the engine's operation.
If these bits of metal re-circulate through the oil, these bits
will break off other bits of metal. It's erosion. And the erosion
occurs under significant pressure. Any erosion that does occur will
occur quickly and can compound at exponential rates.
A good oil filter helps prevent this. Poor oil filters
shorten a car's life cycle and can even lead to things like a broken
bearings (as in bearings that were once circular are now bits and
pieces and the piston or crankshaft wobbles uncontrollably), damaged
oil pumps and damaged cylinders (replace or re-bore the engine block)
to name a few. These sort of problems usually show up in stressed
motors sooner than later.
Photos of a camshaft lobe and main bearing from a Chrysler 2.0L
Photo Top Left: A chip on the top of the crankshaft
lobe is clearly visible. This chip was probably caused by natural
oil. The natural oil clogged the lash adjusters that resulted
in a greater force being applied to the camshaft lobe. The natural
oil cannot deal with such forces since it is limited to a compressional
strength of about 300psi. The hardened surface of the camshaft
is what gave way.
Photo Top Right: The oil filter passed bits of metal
through the bypass. These metal pieces went through the oil system
and to the frictional surfaces such as the main bearing shown
here. A metal flake was ejected from the crankshaft oil line to
the main bearing. A deep score was marked on the bearing and to
a lesser extent, the crankshaft.
Photo Below: Poor lubrication results in friction
and heat that stresses parts to failure. The photo below shows
one of the pistons broken between the piston ring grooves. The
piston rings also failed and broke.
The owner did not notice any difference in engine
behavior as these parts were failing. The "low oil pressure"
light came on every once in a while on the instrument cluster. The
engine was replaced before it completely failed.
Magnets can help out a good oil filter. Magnets collect
ferrous metals (metals that contain iron). Ferrous metal are usually
the hardest metals in a motor and can do the most damage left unchecked.
Some cars are manufactured with a magnetic drain plug already installed
in the oil pan. If the car doesn't already have one, a magnetic
drain plug can be purchased an auto parts store such as Pep Boys,
Autozone, Napa, O'Reilly's, etc.
An even better option is to use rare earth magnets.
The magnetic force of these magnets can cause bodily injury. If
that's not a selling point then I don't know what is! FilterMag
sells a rare earth magnet that snaps right onto the side of the
oil filter. The magnet is so strong that it doesn't need a fastening
device to hold it to the car. It's difficult to remove. It's a sure
way to collect all the ferrous metals floating around in the engine
oil. And all the ferrous metal particles go in the trash with the
oil filter when its done.
The only problem with a product like FilterMag is
making sure a lube shop gives it back. The oil filter in most cars
can be difficult to see or find. If the shop doesn't put the FilterMag
on the new oil filter you might not ever know. Or they might not
know what it is and break it with an oil filter wrench. It's a bad
way to lose $60.
Read more about filter magnets on my Inside
an Oil Filter page.
How can an oil filter make a car more efficient?
The answer is pretty straight forward. Get a big one.
Get the biggest oil filter that will fit. A bigger oil filter increases
the volume of oil available to the engine and increases the filtration
surface area. More oil can be filtered at a lower pressure so less
oil will go through the bypass unfiltered.
How to find a bigger oil filter
The guy at the parts counter can only tell you what
filter is referenced in his database. So you can't trust him to
help you get a bigger filter for your car. Get on a web forum focused
on your car model and find out if anyone else has put a larger oil
filter on their car. Find out what the filter number is. Still no
luck? Go to the parts store and plan on spending 20 minutes there
examining oil filters. The employees are usually really good at
ignoring customers so you can plan on having all that time to yourself,
which is what you'll need.
Photo Left: The left filter is referenced
in the catalog for a Chrysler/Dodge 2.0L SOHC. The filter on the
right is about the same size as what came on the car from the
factory in 1995. The filter on the right fits without any modifications.
I recommend using the Purolator L14670 filter for all Chrysler/Dodge
2.0L SOHC and DOHC engines.
Photo Right: The two filters from
the top. notice the gasket is the same size.
Start by picking out the oil filter referenced by
the guy at the desk. Then pick out a bunch of other oil filters
in larger boxes. Look at the O-ring gasket. Find a few oil filters
that match the O-ring gasket diameter and appear to have a similar
threading. Buy all of the ones that potentially fit. When you're
under the car later that day, dry-fit the various filters. Keep
the largest one that fits. Take back the rest that don't. If they
all fail, you'll still have the oil filter the parts guy referenced
so the trip won't be a complete loss. Then get on that web forum
and submit your findings to your fellow enthusiasts. Let others
know how to do what you just did. The larger oil filter helps prevent
oil pump grinding in the Chrysler/Dodge 2.4L turbo motors.
Above Photo: The filter on the left is the referenced
filter in the catalog for the Chrysler/Dodge 2.4L turbo engine
(Neon SRT-4 and PT Cruiser GT). The center filter, L30001 is the
preferred filter. Use two filter adapter gaskets to allow the
larger filter to thread on (Chrysler part number: 1-04884000AA
$4.77 ea). The filter on the right is a Purolator filter made
in India. The other two are made in the US. The filter made in
India has thicker walls, is built differently, and the paint kept
falling off in my hand. It's not going on my car.
Keep clearances in mind. If an oil filter dangles
below the oil pan then a speed bump could tear it off causing a
complete loss of oil within a few seconds. If the filter rubs on
a moving part like an axle, then it's too big. In the case of the
test car, a second filter adapter gasket required to push the oil
filter adapter out about one eighth of an inch to make room for
the larger filter.
Choose an Oil Filter by brand
Purolator, Mobil1, Motorcraft, Mann, and Amsoil.
(and Supertech which is the Walmart brand if you're really on a
That's it. It's a short list. That makes it easy to
Purolator Pure One and K&N oil filters are decent.
However the media seems dense enough to impede the passage of oil.
Those filters are built well.
MANN+HUMMEL & Bosch own Purolator as of 2006.
Purolator was previously an ArvinMeritor product and considered
to be one of the finest oil filters in the business. MANN+HUMMEL
also make oil filters for the German car manufacturers, BMW, Audi,
and Porsche. I'm impressed by the construction of the Mann filter.
Bosch outsources their oil filters to Champion Labs. And the Bosch
filters are awful.
Hastings manufactures Amsoil, Baldwin, and Hastings
oil filters. All good stuff.
Champion Labs produces oil filters under a variety
of names. Those include Fram, STP, SuperTech, Delphi, Bosch, Mobil1,
K&N, AC Delco, and a few others too insignificant to mention.
There's a lot of Good, Bad, and Ugly in there.
Cruelty in a Can
Some brands should be avoided like poisonous frogs.
Fram, Bosch and WIX make the worst oil filters. Bosch oil filters
let everything go through unfiltered. The Delphi and STP filters
are identical to the Walmart SuperTech brand for double the price.
The Delphi, STP and Walmart oil filters have no bypass valve so
everything gets filtered. I don't know if the thing will come apart
under severe stress.
Fram oil filters are notoriously awful in construction
quality. The end caps are cardboard for crying out loud! Bits of
cardboard flake off and bind up in engine parts causing damage.
Fram also advertises that their filters are impregnated with PTFE
(Teflon). Teflon is a solid plastic that melts together in the oil
passages and forms a clot. PTFE is discusses in more detail on the
engine oil web page. Fram oil filters
are a proven way to ruin Chrysler 2.0L engines.
The WIX oil filters I've seen use undersized filtration
media. If the WIX oil filter is cut open, about half of it will
be filled by filter material. The rest of the space may be occupied
by a plastic insert or who knows what. However, if the filter can
is full of media it may be okay.
Oil Filter Tips:
Fill a new oil filter with oil before putting it on.
Watch the oil in the filter for 10 seconds. It will start to disappear.
The filter media is absorbing the oil. Keep filling the oil filter
till it stays full. This will prevent a dry start. If the oil filter
is mounted sideways, fill it halfway and expect some oil to pour
out as you thread it on.
Run a few drops of oil over the oil filter gasket.
This will ease installation and removal.
Always clean off the mounting surfaces before installing
the new filter.
Oil drain pans that are completely open at the top
are the easiest to use to collect the dripping oil under the car.
Then pour the oil into a 5 gallon gas can or equivalent. When the
5 gallon can gets full, take that to a service station to get recycled.
The same thing can be done with engine coolant.
Oil filters ensure an engine's longevity.
Shop oil filters by brand: Purolator, Mobil1, Motorcraft,
Mann, and Amsoil.
Get the largest oil filter that can fit.
Read more about oil filters on "Inside
an Oil Filter."
Oil filters are cut open and examined up close!
Improved Maintenance Topics:
Wiper Arm Adjustment
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