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What’s the Right Oil Filter for the Oil You’re Using?

Picking the right oil filter

When choosing the right oil filter for your car, you may have stopped to wonder if the type of oil you pour into your engine has any impact on the filter that you should be using. You’ve probably heard that synthetic oil is a more effective lubricant than traditional or “dino” oil, but does that mean it needs a synthetic-friendly oil filter to get the most performance out of it?

Yes, and no.

Here’s what you need to know to understand what kind of filter you should be matching with your car’s oil.

What Does an Oil Filter Do?
Oil filter cutaway

An oil filter is designed to screen out contaminants in your oil. Dirt that gets sucked in through the intake, metal shavings from normal wear, sludge that might form inside the motor — all of these things are caught by the filter and then stored inside to protect your mechanical bits from damage. Filters can take many different shapes, but the most popular are drop-in filters and twist-on canisters.

Why Go Synthetic?

Synthetic oil is popular for many reasons — it resists breakdown at high temperatures better than other oils, it can flow better during cold starts and it’s an all-around better lubricant than oils of the past. The biggest reason people switch to synthetic oil, however, is that its additive packs last much longer than traditional oil, allowing you to space out your oil changes across longer intervals.

What’s the Right Oil Filter?

Honestly, the materials used inside modern oil filters (also known as “media”) don’t care what type of oil is flowing through them — they will just as happily filter contaminants out of traditional oil as synthetic. However, if you are going to be extending your oil change intervals, by using a synthetic lubricant, then you’re going to have to choose a filter that can handle the extra duty. This means choosing a filter that will keep particles of dirt, dust and metal trapped the entire time it’s in use. Typically, with synthetic oil and long periods between oil changes, you’ll want to spring for a higher end, high capacity filter, whereas the right oil filter for dino oil doesn’t have to feature the same extended duration capabilities so you don’t have to be as picky.

Check out all the cabin filters available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on choosing the right oil filter for your needs, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


Benjamin Hunting View All

Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time.  I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.

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