Motor oil is the lifeblood of an engine. As it circulates through an engine during normal driving conditions, it picks up dirt, debris, and traces of fuel. If allowed to circulate through the engine, these contaminants can cause parts to wear faster than they should. This can result in significant and expensive damage. To remove these particles and protect engine components such as the camshaft and piston rods, the oil is passed through a filter. In addition to protecting the engine, the correct filter can enhance engine performance and increase fuel efficiency. Engine oil and filters are usually changed every 3,000 miles as part of a regularly scheduled maintenance.


Types of Car Oil Filters

Primary oil filters are standard in most vehicles. These filters are designed so that all of the engine oil passes through them during operation. They have the ability to filter large volumes of oil with limited restrictions so that the oil can flow freely in cold weather. A bypass valve activates when the filter is clogged. This enables the oil to bypass the filter so that it can reach and lubricate the engine even though it is unfiltered.

Secondary filters, which are typically found on diesel engines, are designed to take a portion of the oil and pass it through a second filter for further cleaning. These filters can also be installed on most gasoline engines, and they can extend the life of an engine and lengthen the time between oil changes.

Magnetic filters contain a small magnet inside the canister that attracts tiny pieces of metal and rust. The magnet holds these metal shavings inside the filter preventing them from circulating throughout the engine. The magnet can be installed on either the inside or the outside of the filter canister depending upon the model.

Finding the Right Size Oil Filter

Most engine oil filters look the same. They look like a metal can with a gasket and threads on one end. The interior of the filter can be comprised of various materials. Value brands contain cellulose fibers while mid-range filters use a combination of cellulose and synthetic fibers. Premium brands use special micro-glass fibers for superior filtration that usually exceeds the requirements of the vehicle manufacturer.

Although various filters may look similar, they have different part numbers and sizes depending on the make, year and model of the vehicle for which they are made. The wrong filter will not seat properly and will leak because of the differences in the threads; the gasket may be too large or too small. This requires choosing the correct replacement oil filter for the car from the several choices available.

Look in the owner’s manual for the correct size and type of oil filter to be installed in the vehicle. The vehicle may use the standard canister style filter or the newer replaceable cartridge type. The manual may also provide information on the type of filtration material used for cartridge media or inside the canister. The part number may be written on the bottom edge of the old oil filter as well. The correct part number can also be found in an oil filter directory available online by cross-referencing the vehicle’s make, model, and year of manufacture as well as engine size and type of filter desired. Determine whether an oil filter adapter is also required. Select the manufacturer’s recommend filter if the car is still under warranty.

Evaluate the Oil Filter

Inspect the filter. The more pleats that a car oil filter has the more contaminants it can collect. Select a model that filters particles as small as three to 10 microns. Check for a metal end cap. Some filters use cardboard, which deteriorates faster. Look for a tight fitting rubber or silicone anti-drainback barrier. This prevents the oil from becoming contaminated with particles. Not all filters are equipped with this feature. Inspect the bypass valve. Metal valves are more durable than plastic. Look for a gasket made from flexible rubber to ensure a proper seal. Determine if the filter is suitable for the type of oil being used.

Finding Oil Filters on eBay

DIY car mechanics can find a range of oil filters available for sale on eBay as well as other items needed for regularly scheduled maintenance tasks such as oil filter wrenches, engine oil, car air filters, and fuel filters. The filters range from value brands to premium models designed for extended use. To find the right oil filter for a car, enter keywords in the Search function box or go to eBay Motors and select Parts & Accessories followed by Car & Truck Parts, Filters, and Oil Filters.

How to Choose the Right Oil Filter for Your Car
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