Best Oil Filters: Engine Protections

Vivek Nayyar
by Vivek Nayyar

Top 8 Best Oil Filters

There are some things best enjoyed without filters – Instagram photos, discussions about pay with your boss, and those Camel cigarettes from the ’80s. What definitely does require a filter is the oiling system on your car’s engine. We’ve gathered a few of them here.

As a programming note, know that for purposes of making a vaguely apples-to-apples comparison in this post, we selected a common vehicle we figured would be roughly representative of the awful cars efficient daily drivers pressed into service by the readers and authors of this site. In this case, we’ve specified a ten-year-old Honda Civic.

You’ll be glad (and unsurprised) to learn we’ve all had our name on the title of some terrible rotbox at some point during our driving careers. We bet you have, too.

Table of Contents

1. Editor's Choice: Genuine Honda Oil (Honeywell) Filter

Ages ago, Honda used to have a tagline when advertising their service departments that said "Don't open your hood to strangers". With all the unmentionable double entendres that the phrase implies, there's no way that line would fly in today's society. But it still makes a good point: the company that built your car probably knows a thing or two about the parts it requires.

Selecting a gen-u-wine OEM part goes a long way even when your car is well out of warranty. After all, wouldn't you look more kindly upon a used car you were inspecting if it featured all-Honda replacement parts compared to one that was mended and serviced cheaply? Some reviewers are critical of this product and openly question if it is an actual Honda item but the vast majority seem happy, leading to a 4.8 out of 5-star rating.

Pros

  • Actual item from Honda, excellent reviews

Cons

  • Be sure to check those part numbers

Bottom Line

  • Don't open your hood to strangers

2. FRAM Extra Guard Passenger Car Spin-On Oil Filter

Going from genuine OEM articles to the king of aftermarket filters, we find this Fram filter to be priced in the basement and found on the shelf of just about every major retailer in the nation. Priced less than four bucks, it's virtually a guarantee than many people shell out more cash than that for their morning coffee on the way to work.

There are plenty of uncomplimentary anecdotes about Fram filters but your author has had good luck with them for at least the last 20 years. That pavement-like gripping surface on its posterior works as advertised, providing a place on which to grasp the thing and torque it off. The rest of it is slathered in bright orange paint, which can be good or bad depending on your opinion.

Pros

  • Cheaper than the dirt it filters from your engine oil

Cons

  • Easily spotted by nosy used car shoppers

Bottom Line

  • Hard to beat this price

3. PurolatorONE Advanced Engine Protection Spin On Oil Filter

Several different filters from Purolator presented themselves when we specified a ten-year-old Honda Civic and its 1.8L engine. However, this Purolator One filter falls somewhere between their bargain filter and more expensive offerings.

In a fit of scientific statement, Purolator says this filter has a silicone anti-drain-back valve that lasts longer than traditional nitrile to protect against dry starts and oil leaks. They also say their metal end caps hold up better in the long term. Whether you think this is a dig at Fram or not is up to you.

Pros

  • Allegedly good for 10k miles, actual selling points in the ad copy

Cons

  • Gasket complaints

Bottom Line

  • FYI - the new top-of-line Purolator is called BOSS

4. Royal Purple Oil Filter

When the brand Royal Purple showed up on the scene it was, at least in my circle of gearhead buddies, worth the extra cash. By most accounts, that seems to remain true today even if we've all grown up - notice I didn't say matured - and now driving SUVs. The filter linked here, of course, fits our sample Honda Civic.

Like any good marketer of motor oil, Royal Purple has expanded into a line of ancillary items including oil filters. Slathered in their trademark purple color, these filters apparently boast a 15k-mile lifespan when used with full synthetic motor oil. For the scientists in the room, this thing claims to achieve a 99% filtration efficiency at 25 microns or larger when combined with synthetic oil.

Pros

  • Brand snobbery, long service intervals

Cons

  • Higher-than-average price tag

Bottom Line

  • Relive yer yute (or simply enjoy a good filter)

5. Mobil 1 Extended Performance Oil Filter

There was a time when your author would base his purchasing decisions with a critical eye at which racing team they sponsored. If they were on the flanks of a driver I didn't like, there was little chance they'd snag me as a customer. Put it this way: I exclusively drank Coke for this very reason.

If you're in that camp, we hope you like either Stewart-Haas Racing or Aston Martin Red Bull Racing. Porsche Supercup series too, by the way. As for the filter, it's difficult to get a more recognized oil brand than Mobil 1, though the company does seem to offer different levels of filters. This is the mid-grade model.

Pros

  • This crowd knows what they're doing

Cons

  • Amazon's compatibility tool may be off

Bottom Line

  • Tough to go wrong here

6. Ecogard Synthetic+ Oil Filter

Marketed as an enviro-friendly product (hey, it's in a green box and has 'eco' in its name), this filter is said to be designed to maintain performance for the longer oil change intervals on vehicle engines using synthetic oil.

According to the ad copy, it will provide long-lasting engine protection with 2x the filtration capacity compared to conventional oil filters. Without going into details, they say it's been 'proven' to drive up to 10k miles between oil changes. Like others on this list, they promote their solid metal end caps.

Pros

  • The veneer of econess, decent price

Cons

  • EcoWho?

Bottom Line

  • Best for use with synthetic oils

7. Pennzoil Regular Spin-on Oil Filter

If there was a prize for the most traditional and plainest-looking oil filter, Pennzoil would win hands down. Not that oil filters need to be sexy, of course, save for the ones being affixed to the majority of rigs showing up at a place like Barrett-Jackson (and Bring-a-Trailer soon, we think). This filter simply flies the brand’s colors, bears its name, and is stamped with a unit number. That’s it.

Pennzoil says their filter is among the highest efficiency units on the market with efficiencies of 97 percent or higher when scrubbing particle sizes above 20 microns. They also claim a larger filtering area and advanced media to provide additional capacity. Perhaps we should run one of these things through the official TTAC band saw and find out.

Pros

  • Just the facts ma'am

Cons

  • Not as inexpensive as it used to be

Bottom Line

  • Sail with the Pirates of Pennzoil

8. Champion Spin-On Oil Filter

In the past, your author has associated Champion with electrical items like spark plugs and rotor caps, not oil filters. However, they seem to have cracked the nut with this one, claiming it ideal for OE recommended change intervals up to 12,000 miles when paired with synthetic oil.

Champion says their filter is made with high-strength filter media, helping it weather harsh driving conditions and longer change intervals. Marketing hyperbole aside, ratings from real-world customers - while few in number - are stellar.

Pros

  • Long life, plays well with synthetics

Cons

  • Terrifying lack of reviews

Bottom Line

  • It's another filter

FAQs

What oil filter brand is best?

Every brand is unique in its own way and oil filters from each vendor have their pros and cons. With that in mind, it’s up to you as to which manufacturer you prefer when it is about an oil filter, and what level of efficiency does that particular piece of equipment offers.

Nevertheless, some most reliable oil filter brands are:

Bosch

Purolator

Mobil 1

Motorcraft

Amsoil

Also note that while buying, you must always check if the oil filter is compatible with your vehicle, and what other alternatives do you have.

Are K and N oil filters good?

Honestly, many users claim that they heard only bad things about K&N oil filters. Nevertheless, a few points that are a plus include:

They can be used with both traditional and synthetic oils

They are washable and therefore can be reused

They are good for off-road and racing cars

As for cons, some noteworthy factors are:

Filtering power is average

They can last only up to 11.2K kilometers to 16K kilometers

The efficiency level is around 85 percent at 20 microns

With the above merits and demerits, you need to be quite calculative and see which boxes the K&N oil filters check before you invest your money in them.

Are WIX oil filters good quality?

When compared, WIX oil filters are better than K&N. Some factors where WIX filters win the race include:

Extremely good filtering power

Can last for up to 24,000+ kilometers

Efficiency level is as high as 95 percent at 20 microns

Designed to be used in regular cars which makes these oil filters useful for the majority of people

As for the downside, the points include:

They are non-washable and must be replaced

Can be used only with the synthetic oil

Not recommended for off-road or racing cars

Keeping the above pros and cons in mind, WIX oil filters could be considered of good quality.

Are Fram oil filters bad?

Despite all the negative reviews that many people have shared on several portals, there are a few consumers who say good about Fram oil filters.

A couple of factors that make these oil filters worth it include:

They use resin-based end-caps that are considered to be better than those made of a metal

They are tested with ISO 4548-12 standard which is an industry-grade figure for testing purposes

Fram Tough Guard or above series filters offer up to 99 percent efficiency at 20 microns which, at the time of this writing, is only advertised by Bosch and merely a few more vendors

With those figures and facts, you can count on Fram oil filters as they are not as bad as they have been portrayed before the masses.

What oil filters have the highest efficiency of filtration?

Although every brand claims that they are the best, those that have received a decent number of positive reviews on Amazon are listed below:

Mobil 1 M1-110/M1-110A ( Buy here!)

This oil filter claims to have around 99.6 percent filtering efficiency.

FRAM Ultra Synthetic ( Buy here!)

This oil filter offers more than 99 percent filtration efficiency.

Bosh 3323 Premium FILTECH ( Buy here!)

The oil filter is capable of offering up to 99 percent filtering efficiency.

Note: The products the above links redirect to are merely for references and brand comparison. You can check the efficiency percentage and pick your preferred oil filter type from any of the brands according to your vehicle.

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Piston Slaps, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Main photo credit: Paman Aheri / Shutterstock.com. Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

Vivek Nayyar
Vivek Nayyar

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  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Mar 31, 2022

    Speaking of oil additives [sorry, is this a tangent?]: My nephew stopped by with his amazing GMT800 pickup this afternoon to confirm that a front wheel bearing is needed (270,000 miles, about time). I showed him my range of 'approved' and 'under test' oil additives, and explained that many people think that the whole additive category is useless snake oil. "So listen carefully with both ears," said I. Had him start the truck and leave it running. We both leaned under the hood to get away from the wind and I slowly added a well-shaken can of "RESTORE" to the crankcase. The change in sound was sudden and conspicuous. He heard it too (so I'm not crazy). Science! [Then I ordered two more cans - I don't like to run out of that one.]

  • Lostboy Lostboy on Apr 22, 2022

    Seriously - oil filters are great at one thing - filtering oil, which is what you want but the idea of an extended change interval for your filter is total BS! Why would anyone want to keep in the oil circulation stream crap that's trapped in the filter potentially coming back into play if it escapes the filter media for any longer than you have to is beyond me - never mind 10K or greater! Common sense alone would tell you to get a new filter every time you change your oil so having an oil change interval of 3/4/5K and a 10/15K filter means that your filter ends up holding 3/4/5 times as much crap as a regular filter all that time filtering worse over it's extended lifetime vs a cheaper regular filter if you change your oil every 3k and keep the filter. Now about these synthetic oils that have 10K lives or greater - thing is, oil gets used up in everyday use, and whilst there may be a crap ton of detergents in the oil to keep the sludge liquidy, the oil itself starts working harder to keep all that crap carrying it through your block itself - so there's a double whammy happening here for folks who buy into this idea of an extended life filter 1) your oil filter could potentially hold 3 times as much crap as a regular filter all the whilst filtering more poorly as it fills up - and the potential for all that filtered crap to escape through failure back into your engine exists! 2) your long life oil is carrying way more crap in it because it's in use longer and it's doing its job way worse than oil that gets changed every 5k because your engine is still dirtying it the same way whether your oil gets changed every 5k or not but the oil still has to work for that extended interval anyways so your saddling the oil will more crap itself to carry over that extended interval and 3) The fact is that the oil and the filter work against one another over time - the oil tries to hold the crap in suspension and the filter tries to take it out but since they're both stuck for 10 or 15k they're working harder against one another the whole time as guess what - your filter is also filtering out the oil additives that were added to keep that oil running for that extended interval as well the crap in suspension making the oil worse, and plugging itself in the process so you end up with a filter that's not filtering as it ages and oil that not getting cleaned properly with 3 times as much exposure as it's staying in 3 x longer with poorer lubrication properties for a longer in use interval = bad engine life. Your so SOL buddy if you buy into this idea- and why did you do this? to save money on an oil change?? At the end of the day, changing your filter EVERY OIL change is more important than the filter itself and by extension, changing your oil with the filter at the manufacturer interval (or as recommended by the on board computer diagnostics) is the way to go - paying for an extended life filter that's essentially NOT filtering at the end of it's life over a long oil change interval is idiocy at it's best, and to buy the idea that your oil can somehow last 10K or whatever is truly sucking at the ballsack of marketing ignoring reality. A cheapo filter for me with regular synthetic oil wins vs. overpriced long life filter and more expensive long life synthetic oil. A longer life filter and an extended interval oil can coexist happily if you change one maybe, preferably the filter and top up the oil but no way if both are kept for a longer service interval.

  • 3-On-The-Tree I don’t think Toyotas going down.
  • ToolGuy Random thoughts (bulleted list because it should work on this page):• Carlos Tavares is a very smart individual.• I get the sense that the western hemisphere portion of Stellantis was even more messed up than he originally believed (I have no data), which is why the plan (old plan, original plan) has taken longer than expected (longer than I expected).• All the OEMs who have taken a serious look at what is happening with EVs in China have had to take a step back and reassess (oversimplification: they were thinking mostly business-as-usual with some tweaks here and there, and now realize they have bigger issues, much bigger, really big).• You (dear TTAC reader) aren't ready to hear this yet, but the EV thing is a tsunami (the thing has already done the thing, just hasn't reached you yet). I hesitate to even tell you, but it is the truth.
  • ToolGuy ¶ I have kicked around doing an engine rebuild at some point (I never have on an automobile); right now my interest level in that is pretty low, say 2/5.¶ It could be interesting to do an engine swap at some point (also haven't done that), call that 2/5 as well.¶ Building a kit car would be interesting but a big commitment, let's say 1/5 realistically.¶ Frame-up restoration, very little interest, 1/5.¶ I have repainted a vehicle (down to bare metal) and that was interesting/engaging (didn't have the right facilities, but made it work, sort of lol).¶ Taking a vehicle which I like where the ICE has given out and converting it to EV sounds engaging and appealing. Would not do it anytime soon, maybe 3 to 5 years out. Current interest level 4/5.¶ Building my own car (from scratch) would have some significant hurdles. Unless I started my own car company, which might involve other hurdles. 😉
  • Rover Sig "Value" is what people perceive as its worth. What is the worth or value of an EV somebody creates out of a used car? People value different things, but for a vehicle, people generally ascribe worth in terms of reliability, maintainability, safety, appearance and style, utility (payload, range, etc.), convenience, operating cost, projected life, support network, etc. "Value for money" means how much worth would people think it had compared to competing vehicles on the market, in other words, would it be a good deal to buy one, compared to other vehicles one could get? Consider what price you would have to ask for it, including the parts and labor you put into it, because that would affect the “for the money” part of the “value for money” calculation. An indicator of whether people think an EV-built-in-a-used-car would provide "value for money" is the current level of demand for used cars turned into EVs. Are there a lot of people looking for these on the market? Or would building one just be a hobby? Repairing an existing EV, bringing it back into spec, might create better value for the money. Although demand for EVs is reportedly down recently.
  • ToolGuy Those of you who aren't listening to the TTAC Podcast, you really don't know what you are missing.
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