What Are The Types Of Oil Filters?

Author: Geym

Sep. 18, 2023

Automobiles & Motorcycles

Your car's oil filter prevents waste, metal particles, and other contaminants from circulating through the engine, keeping the oil flowing smoothly.

Eventually, however, the filter gets clogged - which is why you need to change your oil filter regularly.


But there are many different types of oil filters.

What are the main types of oil filters you should know about?

What are the components of an engine oil filter?

To answer all of these questions, we'll discuss the different oil filter types and browse through some FAQs, including types of filtration media, to better understand oil filters.

This article contains:

2 Main Types of Oil Filters

Coarse oil filters

Secondary oil filters

3 Frequently Asked Questions about Engine Oil Filters

What does an engine oil filter consist of?

What is a hot chamber filter?

What are the different types of filter media

Getting Started!

2 Main Types of Oil Filters

There are a variety of oil filters on the market.

However, you can broadly categorise them into two types of oil filters:

Coarse oil filters

Secondary oil filters

Let's take a look:

1. Coarse oil filters

Most car manufacturers use a full-flow filtration system that includes a primary oil filter, also known as a full-flow filter.

It is called a full-flow filter because, unlike some filters that only filter some of your car's oil, it eliminates contaminants from all of the oil used in your car's engine.

It's important to note that full-flow filters are ideal for lower temperatures.


Extremely cold conditions can thicken your oil and most filters restrict oil flow, making filtration difficult. This can seriously damage your engine.

However, a primary oil filter allows the oil to pass through the engine more easily than other types of filters, thus providing engine protection, even after thickening in cold temperatures.

Let's look at some of the primary or full-flow filter types.

2 Coarse Oil Filter Types

Here are the most common types of primary oil filters that keep your engine oil clean and protect your car from engine wear:

A. Cartridge Oil Filters

Cartridge oil filters are sometimes called eco oil filters.

This is because this full-flow filter type has no metal parts and can be easily recycled in many cases. Cartridge oil filters are also favoured for their ease of use. If it sits upright, your mechanic can usually inspect the cartridge filter without having to remove the engine oil.

B. Spin-on Oil Filters

Another type of full-flow filter is the spin-on oil filter.

Unlike cartridge oil filters, this main filter type is less environmentally friendly. It uses a steel canister and a paper cartridge. Spin-on oil filters are perfect for those who wish to change their fuel filters on their own, as they are easy to change and require few if any complicated tools.

Now that you have learned about primary filter types, let's move on to secondary filter types.

2. Secondary Oil Filters

The next major type of oil filter is the secondary oil filter. It is used to support your car's full-flow filter.

This filter cleans less than 10% of the oil used in your car's engine and removes contaminants that may have been missed by the primary filter.

The secondary oil filter adds an extra layer of protection to your engine and can easily extend the life of your oil.

Another name for secondary oil filters is bypass filters.

However, they are completely different from bypass valves.

What is a bypass valve?

A bypass valve is a pressure relief valve designed to open if the oil thickens or the oil filter becomes clogged. This opening allows oil to flow through the centre tube bypassing the oil filter, thus protecting the engine from damage.

Note: The secondary filter works independently of the primary oil filter. If your car does not have one, you can install it later.

Now let's look at the two secondary filter types that can support the primary filter.

2 Secondary Oil Filter Types

The following are the most common types of secondary oil filters (or bypass filters):

A. Rotary Oil Filters

Rotary oil filters are also known as centrifugal oil filters. As the name suggests, this type of secondary oil filter uses centrifugal force to capture contaminants in the oil.

This is an interesting fact:

Some rotary oil filters can generate forces up to 2,000 times greater than the force of gravity. That's why this type of bypass filter can filter out even the smallest contaminants from the oil.

Rotary filters usually have a filter housing chamber and a membrane (filter media). When the filter media becomes clogged, the mechanic simply replaces the filter media and the filter housing chamber remains usable.

Another important component of a rotary filter is the base gasket. It is designed to prevent oil leaks.

Unfortunately, rotary filters are not the most durable fuel filters, so when you go to the auto shop to change your oil and fuel filters, have your mechanic check the base gasket as well.

B. Magnetic Oil Filters

A magnetic oil filter is another secondary filter that supports a full-flow filter.

This type of secondary filter removes metal contaminants from the oil, but it doesn't hold much dirt or grime.

The good news is that unlike other engine oil filters, you don't need to replace your magnetic oil filter. Simply have your magnetic oil filter cleaned regularly by a professional mechanic to keep filtered oil flowing into your engine.

Now that you've learned about the different types of oil filters, let's answer some common questions about engine oil filters.

3 Engine Oil Filter FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions to help you better understand engine oil filters:

1. What does an engine oil filter consist of?

The engine oil filter has the following components:

Tapping plate: the filter element through which oil enters and leaves the oil filter.

Filter material: a network of synthetic fibres that picks up dirt and slime from the contaminated oil. The filter material is folded into pleats for better filtration.

Anti-drainback valve: This valve acts as a closed door to stop oil from leaking from the engine into the oil filter when your car is not running.

Safety Valve: In cold weather, this valve releases a small amount of unfiltered oil (added to the total oil volume) to keep your engine running efficiently.

End discs: Two end discs at each end of your car's oil filter prevent unfiltered oil from seeping into your engine.

2. What is a hot chamber oil filter?

A hot chamber oil filter works in two ways to protect your car from engine wear.

First, it filters the oil to remove contaminants.

Second, it raises the temperature to refine the oil and destroy some of the contaminants.

3. What are the different types of filtration media?

There are different media (filter media) inside the oil filter.

This filter media will filter and remove contaminants from the circulating oil.

The following are the most common types of filter media:

Cellulose Filter Media: you will find this form of filter media in most disposable oil filters. Cellulose filter media can capture particles 8-10 microns in size and filter up to 40% of the oil.

Synthetic oil filtration media: Synthetic oil filtration media filters 50% of particles 20-40 microns in size and 24% of particles 8-10 microns in size. You will typically find this filter media in higher quality engine oil filters.

Micro Glass Filter Media: If you have a high end fuel filter, you most likely have micro glass filter media. This filter media is very fine, much finer than cellulose fibres, making engine oil filtration very efficient.

Final Thoughts.

Oil filters are an important part of your vehicle that you should maintain. Replace them or the filter element (if separable) as recommended to protect your engine from oil contamination.

To find out what type of oil filtration system your car is equipped with and when to change your car's oil filter, refer to your owner's manual or contact Xianghe Xinyu Shuntong Auto Parts Sales Co., Ltd.

As an experienced SAIC MG auto parts manufacturer, we sell the best and various SAIC MG auto parts. If you are interested in our products, feel free to contact us!




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