Does Oil Filter Size Matter? (Explained)

Oil filter sizes have changed significantly. Did you know that about 4 decades ago, the oil filter of a 5.7 engine was equivalent to the size of a quart?

Today, the oil filter of a similar engine has shrunk by nearly 75% to the size of a cup. This is all thanks to advancements in auto technology.

Both car engines and oils have also experienced numerous improvements to the point where they no longer need a large filter.

If you look at this scenario from a general point of view, a large filter gives you the perception of thorough filtration of oil going into the engine.

Despite this being true, this topic happens to be very complicated and many experts have different opinions on the matter.

does oil filter size matter

5 Key Factors Besides Size To Consider

To kick things off, as you consider which oil filter size to use in your car, you should identify the filters listed as acceptable in that specific vehicle.

A bigger filter may seem like an excellent choice. However, even if it can fit into that space, you need to consider other things.

• Pressure

One of these key factors that need to be considered is the pressure at which the bypass valve will open. This valve is installed to enable oil to bypass the filter when the oil pressure exceeds a particular threshold.

This is usually a safety feature for instances when the filter is clogged and oil can’t pass through it. When considering size, you must take note of the pressure the filter can accommodate.

• Surface Area

Back to size, shorter filters have always been assumed not to last as long as their counterparts. The reason behind this is that they have a shorter surface filter area and can’t filter as much oil as longer ones.

A big surface area translates into a bigger contamination holding capacity.

However, one thing that will help save you a lot of problems in the future whether you decide to use longer or shorter oil filters is to stick to the recommended practice of making oil changes every 3,000 miles. This brings us to the next factor.

• Quality

We can all agree that oil filter technology isn’t as easy as we may think. Over the years, we have come across long oil filters that disintegrate easily and block oil flow.

The reason for this is that the quality of the material used is inferior. Later on in this article, we are going to share with you the importance of choosing an oil filter made out of quality material as you also evaluate which size is ideal for your vehicle.

• Technology

It is also essential that we acknowledge technological advancements in the auto industry. Nowadays, car engines are running much cleaner, and instead of cramping a large oil filter into a tiny space, you are better off with a smaller oil filter that can be adjusted easily.

• Debris

Don’t forget that long oil filters are at risk of being damaged by debris. Unless you are tuning a performance car, the standard-sized filter that came with your car is what you should go for when making oil changes.

As you can see above, size does matter when you are getting a new oil filter for your car. A bigger filter can ensure proper filtration, thanks to the large surface area.

Also, a small filter works amazingly for modern engines that run cleaner. As a car owner, you ought to take a step back and determine which filter size is perfect for your engine. And before you buy an oil filter, know that size is not the only factor you should consider.

oil filter components

Is a Longer Oil Filter Better?

From a theoretical point of view, longer oil filters seem to be the best choice. But are they practical? There is no doubt that a longer oil filter will offer a bigger surface area ensuring minimal contaminants get into your engine.

However, as mentioned earlier, most engines today, even the big ones such as V-8s and V-12s, can still be serviced with a small oil filter. An oil filter is provided using quality materials, so you don’t need to worry so much about the size.

Many car owners are surprised when they see a tiny oil filter in their big engines. And are left wondering whether such a small oil filter can ensure nothing other than oil gets into the engine.

When you look at the filters that manufacturers are making for cars, you will be surprised at their average size.

Even though a longer one has its advantages, that doesn’t mean it’s better. Longer oil filters don’t fit easily into the spaces of modern car engine compartments.

Also, the longer an oil filter is, the more vulnerable it is to damage. And thirdly, modern cars don’t need a long filter as most engines have been improved to run efficiently.

Another thing you should know about longer oil filters is that it puts you at warranty risk.

If your car is still under warranty and the engine fails because of oil filter issues, the car company will pay for it. There is a catch to this, however.

The oil filter should be the one recommended by the company. If you switch from a short to a long oil filter, there is a big chance that you won’t be compensated.

Please use a long oil filter in performance cars or those whose engines have been significantly modified. Race cars with high-volume oil pumps use a special oil filter.

Your mechanic should be able to direct or advise you on which filter suits your car the best. It’s essential that you also have some background information on what size of oil filter you should have in your car.

Does Oil Filter Quality Matter?

Similar to size, the quality of your oil filter matters a lot! Most car owners who have limited knowledge of oil filters and their functions, whenever they are servicing their vehicles, always go for the cheapest oil filter on the shelf. After all, don’t these things all look the same?

Well, yes they do. But the material used contributes immensely to the service you are going to get from it.

Even if you buy a longer filter thinking that it’s going to offer more filtration, you need to know that as long as the filter media used is substandard, the filter is going to clog sooner than you think.

One of the most common and recommended oil filters you should use is those made out of resin-impregnated paper.

This filter media has been there for a while and it will trap up to 97.5 percent of particles in oil and trap microns that are 15 to 40 microns in size. With such a filter in your car, efficiency is guaranteed.

Other oil filters use a combination of synthetic fibers and cellulose fibers.

When these materials are combined to make an oil filter, they can trap contaminants that are as small as 3 to 5 microns. This isn’t your average oil filter as it can trap up to 99.5% of particles.

With these two options, you can be assured of proper oil filtration in your engine. As a normal driver, with such an oil filter you can drive for 5,000 to 7,500 miles without worrying about contaminants getting into your engine.

However, because most vehicles don’t have a specific service interval. It is best that you change your oil filter every 3,000 miles.

Relying on the car’s automatic service reminder light can have adverse effects because some vehicles bring this notification after 12,000 miles. This is such a long time for your car to be using one oil filter.

As we wrap up on quality, we would strongly advise you to avoid cheap oil filters. Most of them can’t even facilitate proper filtration for more than 2,000 miles.

With such an oil filter, you risk sending tons of contaminants into your engine. Also, while we may recommend quality oil filters, not all oil filters branded as premium are ideal for your car.

Make sure you research the materials used to make an oil filter before buying it just because it has a higher price tag and is branded as high quality.

How Can I Gain More Capacity with My Standard-Sized Oil Filter?

Now that you clearly understand how size matters when it comes to oil filters, let’s look at ways you can gain more capacity on your standard-sized oil filters.

The first thing you need to do is get the recommended size oil filter from your car maker. If your car comes with a tiny oil filter, stick to that size not unless your engine has been modified.

Secondly, identify the material used in an oil filter before buying it. When we were talking about quality, we mentioned some materials that you should opt for. These include synthetic fibers and resin-impregnated paper.

These have a higher filtration ability and can trap even the tiniest particles that can find their way into the oil. By considering these factors, you will gain a lot more oil filter capacity.

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