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Spotlight on Oil Filters

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Much like the average consumer’s misperception of synthetic motor oil vs. conventional motor oil, many drivers think of oil filters as a generic product. However, being able to speak to customers about the importance of oil filters and helping them pick the correct oil filter for their vehicle can result in them coming back for trusted advice and repeat business.

“Today, there are many types of oil filters available, and the truth is that all oil filters are not created equal,” said Ahmed Galaby, Automotive Discipline technology lead for ExxonMobil Fuels & Lubricants. “Ultimately, when installers properly educate consumers around oil filters, they’re helping extend both engine life and consumer trust.”

Although most oil filters look very similar, the small differences in the threads or gasket size can determine whether or not a specific oil filter will work with a certain vehicle. Since choosing the correct oil filter for a vehicle is of utmost importance, it is imperative that consumers pay attention to vehicle owner’s manuals or part catalogs. Not only can using the wrong filter cause oil to leak out of the engine or the filter to simply fall off, but both of these situations can also lead to serious engine damage.

Clean motor oil is important because when oil is left unfiltered for a period of time, it could become contaminated with tiny particles that wear surfaces in an engine. In addition, it would wear excessively on the oil pump’s machined components and damage the bearing surfaces in an engine.

Some filters are engineered with synthetic filter media, rather than paper-based media. The synthetic media is said to be capable of trapping small contaminants over a longer period of time and higher miles. Additionally, some synthetic filters have special blends of rubber for gaskets and valves, which are designed to last longer. Synthetic filters also have larger and longer bodies than conventional filters, meaning they have more capacity. Because of these factors, some synthetic oil filters have service lives up to 20,000 miles.

“Select motor oil companies offer advanced performance oil filters that use this synthetic blend,” Galaby said.

When an oil filter works properly, internal engine components, including the connecting rods, camshaft and valve train, are protected from contaminants that cause damage. These engine components are expensive, which is why choosing the right oil filter can promote long engine life.

In general, the more expensive an oil filter is, the better its quality. Lower-cost filters can contain light-gauge material, loose or shredding filter material and poor-quality gaskets that can lead to failure of the filter. Certain filters get rid of small bits of dirt better than others, and some filters simply last longer.

So, the next time a consumer waves off the decision to purchase a new or more competent oil filter for their vehicle, let them know a few of these important facts — it will save them a lot of money and heartache when it comes to their vehicle’s engine.

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