Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Oil Filter Rip Off

Don’t get ripped off on an oil change

Most new car manufacturers recommend synthetic oil and a new oil filter when it’s time to change your oil. That’s good advice. Synthetic oil increases oil flow on cold starts, reduces engine wear, and actually improves gas mileage (less friction means less wasted gas). The other big advantage to synthetic oil can increase the intervals between changes. Yes, it really does last longer.

But in my recent survey of oil change facilities (conducted by phone to chain and independent shops) I discovered that they do not install an extended life oil filter when they refill with synthetic oil.

All the major oil filter manufacturers make several different grades of oil filters. The cheapest filters use a cellulose (paper) filter media with cardboard end caps and nitrile anti-drainback valves. They are designed for a maximum life of 3,000 miles. After that point, the nitrile anti-drainback valve hardens and cracks, allowing oil to drain out of the filter. That delays oil pressure buildup on a cold start. Plus, the cardboard end caps deteriorate and allow oil to bypass around the filter media. An extended life filter, on the other hand, uses a sophisticated blend of cellulose and synthetic glass filter media. They are built with metal end caps, high quality bypass valves, and silicone anti-drainback valves that do not harden or crack.

Shops can purchase economy oil filters for as little as $1.75 each. But extended life filters cost upwards of $7, even in large quantities. Extended life filters are rated for 7,000 or more miles.

If you’re a typical consumer and you’ve chosen to refill with synthetic oil and pay the going rate of almost $80 for a professional oil change, don’t you want to ensure that the filter will go the distance? Based on my phone surveys, you’re going to get a 3,000 mile rated filter even if you pay the $80 charge for a fully synthetic oil change.

Extended life filters state right on the box what they’re rated for. As an example, the Fram XTENDEDGUARD filter is rated for a 10,000 mile service life with synthetic oil 1. But the premium filter offered by Pureolator, the PureOne is only rated for 3,000 miles2. The Mobil 1 Extended Performance Oil Filter specifically states that it is designed for “for today’s longer service intervals,” but does not give an actual mileage3. The K&N Powersports filter uses a synthetic filter media, but does not list a mileage rating. The AMSOIL Ea Synthetic Nanofiber Oil Filters (EaO) uses a synthetic filter media and is guaranteed for 25,000 miles 4.

Bottom line: When you pay a premium price for synthetic oil, you should be getting a premium filter. An oil filter with high efficiency synthetic filter media should be the absolute minimum they install.

1) 10,000-mile change interval under normal driving conditions using fully synthetic motor oil. Consumers should follow recommended change intervals as noted in their vehicle’s owner’s manual. FRAM Website:

2) Purolator PureONE oil filters should be replaced every 3,000 miles or 3 months depending on the driving conditions – or unless otherwise specified by the vehicle’s manufacturer. PUREOLATOR Website

3) Mobile1 website:

4) AMSOIL Ea Oil Filters are guaranteed for 25,000 miles or one year, whichever comes first, when used in conjunction with AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oil. AMSOIL recommends changing the oil filter at the time of oil change.

If used in conjunction with AMSOIL Motor Oil that is being changed at intervals less than 25,000 miles, the EaO Filter should be changed at the same time. AMSOIL EaO Filters are not guaranteed for 25,000 miles when used with any oil other than AMSOIL Motor Oil and should be changed according to vehicle OEM recommendations.

AMSOIL Website


© 2012 Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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