Try asking a couple of drivers what they consider the most important part of their vehicle, and you will probably get the answer in the vein engine, brakes, or even the tires. As a guy that spends better part of the day behind the wheel, I can tell you they all matter. Take, for instance, something as small and seemingly menial as filters.
If you don’t have the best oil filters for your car, the small particles (no larger than a few microns, as a matter of fact) that appear in the oil over time can enter the engine, ruin the bearing surfaces and wipe out all the hard work you have put into maintenance. Yeah, the devil’s in the details.
And, as much as omitting such a small component may be fairly easy, it can, in the worst-case scenario, destroy the engine and bring the car to a halt nevertheless. The fact that the market is filled with subpar products that do more harm than good doesn’t make this stressful situation any easier.
But, there’s no reason to worry. Here’ we’ll take a look at some of the best oil filter brands the money can buy and cover how to find those that fit your vehicle the best.
Top 10 Best Oil Filters On the Market 2020 Reviews
1. Motorcraft FL-820-S Oil Filter
Motorcraft is a manufacturer that doesn’t need too much introduction in the drivers’ circles. Their maintenance products are usually synonymous with quality and reliability, with very few of them deviating from the pattern. I’m more than happy to report that FL-820-S Oil Filter stays true to the brand quality we’ve got so used by now.
What makes this product so satisfying?
Well, for a start, there is the excellent dirt-collecting capability. Sure, the mechanical filters are not the most pristine offerings on the market, but it looks like the Motorcraft has pushed the boundaries of this concept.
This neat piece of car equipment easily protects the engine from excessive wear by screening out the abrasive substances. The particles that are prevented from entering the engine are microscopic – you will be able to put off the things as tiny as sand dust and carbon.
Also, the filters are wrapped in very durable steel cases that keep the internal parts well-protected, as well as silicone anti-drain back valves that prevent dry starts – the issue a lot of mechanics see as number one cause of engine wear.
As a matter of fact, the only thing I truly didn’t like about this package is the package itself. The box is so atrocious your unit can be easily damaged during transport.
- Durable build
- Excellent filtration
- The silicone anti-drain valves prevent dry starts
- The minimal chance of contaminants find a way back into the engine
- Reasonable price
- Truly awful package
2. Mobil 1 M1-110 Extended Performance Oil Filter
Compared to the previous entry I’ve just covered, Mobil 1 M1-110 may look a bit rough around the edges but definitely packs a lot of qualities that allow it to compete with any other pretender for the title of the best oil filter for cars on this list.
The main strength of this product lies in its robust performance. If you are frequently driving your vehicle through clouds of dust or remote country roads, this might just be the unit for you. Not only the filter is well-equipped to deal with contaminants that can be found on these types of roads – its storage capabilities are nothing short of impressive.
Yes, according to the specs provided by the manufacturer, the filter can store up to 28.0 grams of contaminants. Even if we lower these numbers by one or two grams to meet more realistic expectations, that still means you have good 10.000 miles ahead of you before the need to replace the filter.
The other thing I really liked is the unit’s pressure-bearing capacity. This unit easily handles up to nine times the operating pressure of similar filters from this price range.
Unfortunately, there are the small imperfections I briefly covered above. For instance, the manufacturer has decided to use cheap louvers rather than full-blown manufactured holes for oil transport. I would like to see things like this improved in some of the next iterations.
- Excellent performance
- The right choices for the drivers that encounter a lot of dirt on the roads
- For the most part, the build is solid
- The filters stores up to 28.0 grams of dirt
- Some components could be better
3. Bosch 3330 Premium FILTECH Oil Filter
Oil filters are rather simple mechanical units that all, pretty much, work on the same principle. That is why it shouldn’t be too big of a surprise that I got powerful Motorcraft FL-820-S vibes from this package.
For a start, both of them feature excellent filtering capabilities that recycle a lot of ideas and used materials. This time, though, the role of the filtering media is carried over by cellulose paper that easily keeps away the particles as small as 20 microns.
These numbers are rock solid, but I can’t escape the feeling that Bosch would inspire even stronger customer response by increasing the filtering density to 15 microns.
Also, much like the product coming from Motorcraft, 3330 features a sturdy metal casing that prevents contortions and eventual leaks, and, of course, a silicone anti-drain back valve that makes sure the engine never starts without a fresh supply of clean oil.
So, it shouldn’t be any doubt that Bosch 3330 represents one excellent filter that will, coupled with its low price, attract a lot of customers. The small issue where it fails in comparison with direct competitors is the refinement or lack thereof.
For instance, the seals are not amongst the best on the market. You will probably experience some leakages at one time or another.
- The filtering media works very well
- The casing is hard as nails
- The filer easily deals with contaminants as small as 20 microns
- A silicone anti-drain back valve
- Minor refinement issues
- The filtering material could be denser
4. Toyota Genuine Parts 90915-YZZF2 Oil Filter
It is always good to see an OEM product. If you are unfamiliar with the term, abbreviation OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer, and, like in this case, describes the manufacturer that provides the replacement parts for its line flagship products.
This concept brings a lot of good things to the table. The first thing that comes to mind is excellent compatibility. If you own a Toyota vehicle, is there any other product you would trust more to perform filtration that the one coming from the same factory?
Because of this very fact, I see as one of the main flaws of this package the fact that 90915-YZZF2 not only makes a poor fit for vehicles coming from other manufacturers, but omits some popular models coming from Toyota as well (e.g., Prius C2)
But, if you own a car that belongs to the list of supported vehicles, you will find one very satisfying oil filter that features durable casing, pretty capable filtering material (you will be able to deal with common dirt and carbon particles), and a handsome price tag.
As a matter of fact, aside from the minor fitting issues (you can expect some infrequent leakages), the filer works really good. So, if you are a proud Toyota owner, you should strongly consider, especially taking into consideration just how affordable the package is.
- Durable build
- A lot of value for the money
- The filtering mechanism works very well in normal conditions
- An excellent choice for Toyota owners
- Some compatibility issues
- You can expect to experience minor leakages
5. Mann-Filter HU 925/4 X Metal-Free Oil Filter
Mann-Filter HU 925 may not be an OEM product, but it so closely resembles the line of BMW-released products its reputation in the circle of BMW owners might just be the same. So, if you own a BMW vehicle, you should put this manufacturer on the radar.
But, be careful because this brand compatibility may be a bit misleading. HU 925 may be the best oil filter for cars coming from this manufacturer, but some popular models like 330XL are curiously omitted from the list of supported models.
So, don’t take the whole OEM appeal coming at a far lower price too seriously – it wears off rather quickly.
The main strength of this product lies in its construction and filtering capabilities. First and foremost, the separation efficiency is very high, and you can expect to remove up to 97% of the particles that are usually picked up on the roads, which is rather good. The filtering materials are also very well-made and lose virtually none of the efficiency as time goes by.
As for the construction, it is truly stellar, at least for this price range. Even if you drive your car through some of the worst roads in existence, the filters will be able to endure. This durability comes at a slight price, though, because you will probably need a wrench to remove the filter.
- Durable build
- BMW OEM-like quality coming at a much lower price
- Good filtering capabilities
- A pretty decent storing capacity
- The fake OEM moniker is pretty thin
- The filer is pretty sturdy so you will need some tools to remove it
6. FRAM XG7317 Ultra Synthetic Spin-On Oil Filter with SureGrip
Different oil varieties appeal to different types of customers, and, as you would expect, bring different benefits to the table. For instance, synthetic oils produce a reduction of friction and wear, resulting in smoother and cooler engine operation.
On the other hand, they are more expensive and so slippery they sometimes prevent proper break-in of motor components. Because of the latter property, synthetic variety requires the best oil filter for full synthetic oil money can buy.
Although I hesitate to describe FRAM XG7317 as one, it comes damn near close to this flattering title.
So, let me start by pointing out that the inherent properties of synthetic oil combined with the excellent engineering of this product allow you to squeeze up to 20.000 miles of dirt roads from the filer, which is simply awesome.
The level of filtration is very strong, courtesy of well-thought-out dual-layered synthetic media built into the durable canister. I would also like to mention that the very casing features anti-slip texture that makes the filter easily removable even by bare hands.
On the downside, not all the materials that are used for this piece of equipment are so stellar. Take a look inside the filtering media, and you’ll find the ordinary cardboard that doesn’t inspire too much confidence. The other thing I didn’t quite like is the overall craftsmanship. It could be improved in some of the next iterations.
- An excellent choice if you are using a synthetic car oil
- Most of the contaminants are prevented from entering the engine
- Strong casing
- Anti-slip surface
- Reasonably affordable
- The overall craftsmanship could be better
- The cardboard is not the most reliable media in the world
7. Royal Purple 10-2835 Extended Life Premium Oil Filter
When I talked about FRAM XG7317, I considered giving it the title of the best oil filter for synthetic oil on the market. Now that I got the opportunity to try out the product coming from Royal Purple, I am more inclined to make such a decision.
You see, 10-2835 is not a particularly lousy product. To be quite honest, it’s not bad at all. It’s merely a bit more rough around the edges than its direct competitor, which is more than enough to lose the recommendation.
But, if you are willing to give this unit a try, you will find out a couple of delightful surprises.
The unit’s casing is robust, cellulose-based filtering media works like a charm, and you even get the anti-drain back valve that puts the dry starts entirely out of the equation. So, all the building blocks for a reliable synthetic oil filter are here.
But, I can’t overlook the fact that the amount of filter media is really subpar – a fact that does influence the overall performance on the filter. Also, the unit could be better put together while unscrewing feels way harder than necessary.
- Reliable product coming at an affordable price
- Some of the individual components work rather good
- Excellent filtration properties
- Anti-drain back valve prevents dry start
- The unit could use more refinement
- Filtration media is too small
8. K&N HP-1003 Performance Wrench-Off Oil Filter
K&N HP-1003 may not be the most visually appealing product in the market. So much so that your gaze may slip over it, and the chances are you won’t even notice it’s in front of you. But, don’t let this blandness deceive you – HP-1003 might just be the best oil filter on this list.
Seriously, nearly everything about this product is pitch-perfect. First of all, the durability of the casing is off the charts – probably the strongest I have covered so far. Sure, you may be lacking anti-slip surface we’ve seen at some other products, but each unit is at least equipped with a hex nut, which means you will be able to easily unscrew it with any type of wrench.
The second thing I really appreciated is the excellent compatibility – HP-1003 fits like a glove on a long list of different vehicles that include most of the passenger cars, SUVs, trucks, and ATVs we’ve used to seeing on the roads.
But that’s not all. With the efficiency that rises to a whole 99%, the resin filtering media can only be described as incredible. These properties are preserved even when you move to some heavier-grade oils.
Honestly, the only sensible drawback that crosses my mind in regards to this filter is that the overly zealous filtration system somewhat affects the flow rate. And that’s pretty much it.
- Excellent build
- Incredibly efficient filtration
- The product is compatible with a vast array of contemporary vehicles
- Reasonably affordable taking into consideration the performance it puts
- You need a screwdriver to remove the unit
- Somewhat reduced the flow rate
9. Subaru 15208AA15A Oil Filter
Now, here we have yet another branded OEM product. This time, one of the main problems lies in that exact fact. You see, when I try to imagine the best oil filter brand, the mentions that cross my mind include Motorcraft, Mobile 1, and even BMW if we move the things into OEM direction.
Subaru is definitely amongst them. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t have anything against the manufacturer. But compared to the heavy hitters I’ve just covered, their lineup of ancillary products looks decent at best.
And that is the best way to describe Subaru 15208AA15A. It’s very decent. The casing seems reasonably durable (it’s fitted to be used by screwdriver), features strong filtering capabilities (don’t expect to stop contaminants smaller than 20 microns, though), and fits like a glove to some of the most popular Subaru models.
If you are satisfied with this description, you will also be thrilled to hear that the product features a very affordable price. On the downside, you may experience some leakages.
- Very affordable
- Solid construction
- Filtration is not bad at all
- If you own a Subaru, this is the filter for you
- Occasional leakages
- A pretty average product
10. ACDelco TP3018 Professional Fuel Filter with Seals
Now, this product is very curious. On the one hand, we are talking about a very quality filter that packs too many qualities to be overlooked. On the other, the price of this package is so off the charts that you can’t help but wonder why you would bother.
But, the latter reality doesn’t change the fact that ACDelco TP3018 performs filtration with ease and grace. Any kind of reasonably manageable contaminants like dirt, paint, and rust will not ever get the chance to come close to the vehicle’s engine.
Furthermore, the build feels genuinely great, and storage capacity is definitely above the average. Although I didn’t have enough time to spend with this unit, from what I’ve experienced so far, I don’t have any reason to doubt the manufacturer’s claim the filter lasts 50% than its direct competitors.
So, judging by the performance alone, this package could easily contend for the title of the best oil filter on the market. You can imagine then, just how furious I am because people from AXDelco brought down this exciting promise with such a hefty price tag.
- Excellent durability
- The filter is very easy to mount and dismount
- Lasts 50% more than most of the direct competitors
- High filtration index
- Too expensive for an average consumer
- Occasional leaks
The Top 4 Things to Consider When You Want to Buy a Best Oil Filter
Now that we’ve gone through some of the best oil filters you can currently find on the market, let us look at different types of this product you can find out there and highlight some features you should pay attention to while making a purchase.
The reasons behind this are multiple.
First, the different vehicles entail different requirements. The best engine oil filter for my car may underperform when mounted on yours. Second, you can lose very little by becoming an educated buyer and learning about the different options you can find in the stores.
Finally, it makes sense for me as a reviewer too. I have to rank all the oils I’ve covered above some way, right?
So, without further ado, let us quickly go through the top four things you should consider before spending your hard-earned money. Properly maintaining the vehicle means you’ll spend money on a lot of items ranging from car covers to car jacks – every dollar counts here.
1. Know the size and model number of your current oil filter
By far, the easiest way to determine what type of and model of the oil filter your car needs is to simply remove the existing filter and check these two properties – especially if you have just recently bought the vehicle and haven’t yet learned its ropes. If you don’t know how the filters are safely removed, you can find the entire replacement process in the FAQ section.
But how to remove the oil filter, you might ask?
Well, it’s really not that hard. First, you will need to ensure the oil is adequately drained (oil replacement does seem like the best occasion to do this). Second, you’ll need to find the actual filter. Its location may depend on the vehicle, but it’s usually somewhere behind the engine. From this point on, you only need a good wrench, and you’re done.
2. Know the type of oil filter it is
But, if you are really new to this stuff, here is a heads up. The car oil filters may be much more complicated products than, for instance, the truck organizers I dealt with in one of my previous articles. But, in spite of that, they can all be roughly divided into six major groups. The types you will most like had to deal with are these two.
Mechanical oil filters
This type of filter is pretty straightforward – the filtration is usually performed by pleated filter paper or cotton that prevent small contaminant from entering the vehicle’s engine. Due to this simplicity, mechanical filters are also the more affordable variety out of the two.
But, this concept does have some drawbacks. Namely, the filtering materials tend to get contaminated rather fast, and you don’t have to option to replace the filtering components separately. So yeah – the entre filter needs to go.
Magnetic oil filters
Unlike their mechanical cousins, magnetic oil filters are much more sophisticated. This time, the dangerous particles that can affect fuel economy and even damage the engine are collected by magnets. Once they pile up, all you need to do is to clean the filtering component, and the filter will be, once again, ready for use. This type packs much more longevity but also represents a more expensive solution.
3. Know the type of filter media it uses
As you can probably guess, mechanical oil filters are so numerous they themselves make a very diverse group of products that feature lots of different subgroups. Once again, covering them all would be too extensive. Here, I will mention only the two groups you will most likely going to use.
Pleated paper filters are often called the “traditional-ones.” Judging by this description, you can get a pretty good idea of what these filtration mechanisms are all about – they are reasonably reliable, very affordable, and feature generous dirt-holding capacity (the filters keep away the bigger particles like silica and dirt).
As opposed to popular opinion, synthetic oil does not automatically imply the use of synthetic oil filters. Here, the word “synthetic” simply describes the media used in the filter manufacturing process (the filter can be designed for synthetic oil, though). If we compare this type with the pleated paper oil filters, we can say the best synthetic oil filter is far more refined and does a better job of trapping small contaminants for a more extended period.
4. Know the mileage limit the oil filter is rated for
The longevity of an air filter can be affected by a number of different factors. For instance, if you are using longer-lasting oils (e.g., some high-end synthetic oil), you will be able to produce much better mileage.
However, every manufacturer tries to give you some baseline value that represents the filter’s optimal prescribed mileage. This property is called “mileage limit” and can often be found on the unit’s package.
Keep in mind one thing, though – most of the manufacturers will describe the filter’s longevity as “20.000 miles or one year,” or in some similar form. Out of the two, you should always consider the restriction that comes sooner.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about best oil filters
Q: What is the best oil filter?
The answer to this question depends on your vehicle, driving style, and road conditions. But, from my personal experience, Motorcraft FL-820-S Oil Filter features such a strong quality and broad appeal it can come out as a winner of any direct best oil filter comparison. However, if you need something less refined and better suited to difficult driving conditions, you may want to check Mobil 1 M1-110 Extended Performance Oil Filter.
Q: Do road conditions affect the life and performance of the oil filter?
The short answer here would be yes. The particles we are dealing with here are measured in microns. As a comparison, the volume of human hair is roughly 80 microns in diameter. The vast majority of the dirt particles we can pick up alongside a regular road are no bigger than 25 microns.
So, no matter how tightly sealed your vehicle may be, the built-up particles will find their way into the engine. From this, we can conclude that adverse road conditions can have a tangible effect both on the filter’s performance and its longevity.
Q: How often should I replace my filter?
This is a pretty tough question. For instance, most of the mechanics advise replacing the oil filters every time you replace the oil. That would be as soon as you pass 3.000 miles or three months after the last replacement.
But, although we can all agree that you can never be too cautious, some filters (especially the non-mechanical ones) are built to last way longer. That is why you should always turn to the indicated mileage limit for the advice. However, if you notice reduced fuel efficiency or the Service Engine light turns on, you may need to replace the filters ahead of the schedule.
Q: Why do I need to change the oil filter?
The role of car oil is to keep the engine cool, prevent mechanical malfunctions, and allow the engine components to work smoothly. The presence of any kind of contaminants can have a negative impact on this process – the engine will gradually lose the fuel economy, and mechanical failures are not much further down the road.
The oil filters are able to prevent this from happening. But, these tools also lose efficiency as you use them. That is why you need to change them after a certain number of passed miles. Otherwise, the filters are changed after a certain period of time out of precaution.
Q: What makes a good oil filter?
The quality of the oil filter can be discussed in a number of different ways. However, their most important feature is, by far, their ability to prevent small particles from entering the car engine. Speaking in cold numbers, a suitable oil filter should be able to trap approximately 97.5% of contaminants that range in size between 15 and 40 microns.
The larger particles can be easily contained even by lower-end filters. Once we go past this all-important feature, we can say that the best car oil filter should also be reasonably affordable, and retain optimal efficiency for at least one year.
Q: When is it a good idea to buy an oil filter?
In one of the previous questions, I talked about the mileage limit (the distance after which the manufacturer recommends you replace the filter). However, these numbers are often mandatory and can be affected by road conditions.
If you are picking up a lot of dirt as you’re driving, you will hardly ever pass the recommended mileage, let alone wait for the time limit provided with the distance as a backup.
So, instinct may tell you to buy the replacements when you start nearing the set mileage. But, for the sake of precaution, you should go shopping as soon as you pass half this number.
Q: How often do oil filters need to be replaced?
The opinions on the frequency in which you should replace the oil filters are divided. Since the process of replacement requires that you completely drain the oil, most of the mechanics will tell you to simply replace the filter when you are changing the oil.
However, most of the filters are designed to work efficiently past this three-month time frame. As a matter of fact, some more premium models can work efficiently for an entire year if you use your vehicle moderately.
So, the best idea would be to abide by the mileage limit prescribed by the manufacturer or replace the filters when you notice bigger drops in the fuel economy.
Q: How to change a car oil filter?
The process is actually straightforward. First, you need to loosen the oil cap and help the oil drain more easily (it would be a good idea to put drain pan underneath the drain plug). Now, it’s time to locate the filter.
Although its location varies from vehicle to vehicle, you can always find it attached somewhere on the engine. If your need additional help, you can refer to the vehicle’s manual. When you finally find this small cylinder, move the drain pan underneath and unscrew the filter.
Keep in mind; things tend to get pretty messy, so you will probably need to use gloves. Finally, lubricate the gasket on the new filter and simply screw it in the place of the previous one.
Q: How to clean an oil filter?
Ok, I’m not going to describe to you the entire process of filter removal. If you are unfamiliar with the matter, you can find it just above. The good news is that once the filter is safely removed, things are pretty simple. You just need to open the access area, slide out the filtering material, and gently rinse it with fresh brake cleaner.
If you have a dedicated automobile parts washer, you can use it as well. Just keep it on the lower settings. When you are done, allow the cloth to dry out completely before sliding it back into the filter. Of course, all of the things I mentioned can be applied only to the reusable oil filters.
So, we are finally at the end, and what to say – the competition was very close. All of the products I’ve covered have at least something working in their favor. However, when all things are considered, it is hard to deny that Motorcraft FL-820-S Oil Filter simply makes the best-rounded product.
The close second place definitely goes to K&N HP-1003 Performance Wrench-Off Oil Filter. I was conflicted between these two products to the very moment of writing this paragraph. Finally, I have to give a special shootout to Mobil 1 M1-110 Extended Performance Oil Filter – a heavy-duty contender that makes the most sense for the drivers spending a lot of time on more demanding roads.
I am Dave McCurdy I am the content developer on the ecodrivingusa.com website. I have 3 years of experience in marketing.