Standard or Extended Life Oil Filter: Which Should I Use?

Standard or Extended Life Oil Filter: Which Should I Use?

The engine oil filter is the most commonly and regularly replaced part on a vehicle. Because of this, almost every OEM and aftermarket  auto parts manufacturer has an oil filter available for up to 95% of vehicles on the road today. But, not all oil filters are created equal. Why is that? Keep reading to learn more.

Oil Filters - Why is there a difference?

Your engine's oil filter is designed to do one thing: filter out contaminants in the motor oil to prevent damage to the internal components of the engine. These contaminants can be already present in the oil (i.e. lower quality, cheaper motor oils that have not been processed thoroughly), or contaminants that present themselves during normal operation of the vehicle. This constant filtration of the motor oil as it is moving through the engine provides maximum lubrication and reduces friction.

All oil filter manufacturers follow the same basic industry guidelines when creating these filters, but the biggest difference that you will find is the filtration medium used to actually filter out those contaminants. The cheapest filters will have an almost cardboard like medium, while the higher quality filters have a fiber medium such as cotton or pleated filter paper. This difference in filter medium also dictates how often the filter (and subsequently the motor oil) should be replaced.

Full Synthetic - Extending the life of Motor Oil

Drivers on the road today are driving farther and more often than ever. In March of 2018, the USDOT Federal Highway Administration reported that Americans now drive an average of 13,476 miles per year. That's well over 1,000 miles each month! What does this mean for the motor oil in an engine?

For the longest time, motor oil was designed to last about 3,000 miles of normal operation. Past that, the molecules in the oil start to break down, and the lubricity is greatly reduced, possibly putting a vehicle's engine in danger of overheating and seizing up. As people started driving more and farther, synthetic blend oil increase that interval to 5,000. However, if you do the math from the yearly average, that still means that the oil (and filter) would have to be changed every 3-4 months.

This is where the benefit of full synthetic motor oils come in. Modern synthetic compounds allow the oil to maintain maximum efficiency for up to 10,000 miles! This greatly reduces the frequency that an oil change service must be done on a vehicle, and - with higher quality synthetic bases and detergents - provides a higher quality product for a newer engine. Now, we won't cover the need to only use full synthetic oil in newer vehicles here, that's for another article. The point here is this: Where does the oil filter come in to play?

What a 10,000 mile oil change interval means for the oil filter

It stands to reason that 10,000 miles in between oil changes also means that your engine's oil filter is going to be filtering out contaminants for all of those 10,000 miles. So, you want to make sure that the oil filter is up to the task. Standard life oil filters are only designed to efficiently last those 3,000-5,000 miles mentioned earlier. Past that, the filter media can't handle or properly filter what's passing through it, so those contaminants are cycling right back through the engine, which greatly increases the risk of engine damage.

So, if you are using motor oil that lasts the full 10,000 miles, an extended life oil filter is a necessity. They are built to withstand the higher heat and pressures that full synthetic oil operates at, have a high temperature silicone gasket, and a silicone anti-drainback valve. (Insert shameless brand plug here) Some other features of extended life oil filters include:

  • Thicker metal shells to prevent accidental damage from road debris
  • Deeper baffles to trap and hold more dirt without restricting oil flow.
  • Finer weave in cellulose filter material to trap smaller particles
  • Reinforced centers to prevent collapse under higher oil pressures
  • Stronger drain valves to withstand extended number of starts
  • By-pass valves to keep the oil flowing in case the filter becomes completely clogged

In conclusion, it's important to use the right type of oil and filter for your engine. Whether it's a standard life or extended life filter, manufacturer specs and repair shop preference usually dictate which to use. Check out our full lines of oil and filters here: