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Best Oil Filters of 2020: Cellulose, Synthetic, or Mix?

As the oil runs through the engine it interacts with a lot of different parts. On its way, it picks up grit and particles of metal. These things contaminate the oil and make it dirtier over time. Once the oil reaches a certain threshold, it will lose its ability to properly lubricate and clean your car’s engine.

Most manufacturers advocate replacing your oil filter each time you change the oil in your car. You might have to change it after every 3,000 or 15,000 miles. But it actually depends on what kind of oil filter you’re using. So it makes a lot of sense to buy the best one you can.

The uncomfortable truth is that not all oil filters are created equal, and you have to hunt for quality. The modern automobile is put under a lot of stress. So you need to take every measure to keep it in the best condition possible.

The Best Oil Filters

Mobil 1 Performance Oil Filter
Synthetic Fiber Blend
Royal Purple Premium Oil Filter
Purolator Spin On Oil Filter
Synthetic Blend

1. Mobil 1 Oil Filter

When it comes to gear that has to do something with oil, Mobil 1 is where people turn to. It’s one of the leaders in the American oil industry and they have been smashing it with their oil filters. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that the Mobil 1 extended performance oil filter is one of the best on the market.

Thanks to its synthetic media material, this filter will do its job with a 99.6% efficiency at 25 microns. It is easily one of the more premium products among the industry-leading media capacity filters that are capable of holding 28 grams of contaminants.

According to Mobil 1, this filter should last for 15,000 miles of use. Additionally, it works best in combination with synthetic oil to work. Furthermore, a premium silicone anti-drain back valve is also included in the package. This will prevent the oil from draining back into the filter when you stop the engine.

Where this filter stands out is the amount of operating pressure it can withstand. It can handle 615 Pascals per square inch, which is nine times more than the usual operating pressure. That makes it easily one of the most durable oil filters on the market.

Mobile 1 has filters for 97% of all vehicles on the road today. You won’t have a problem when trying to find the right size for your car. If you’re looking for a filter that can handle the strains of a high-performance engine, then Mobil 1 might be your best option.

2. Royal Purple Oil Filter

Royal Purple is making a bold claim, stating that they manufacture only high-performance oil filters and Extended Life Oil Filters. These models are specifically designed to filter every drop of oil from contaminants. They don’t just clean your oil, but give it an extended lifespan as well.

Its thick shell provides extra protection for your engine, so it won’t wear out as quickly. It protects your engine against the harsh elements of the road such as debris and various substances. It uses a 100% synthetic micro-glass component. With a filtration efficiency of 99%, this allows the optimal suspension of dirt particles which can be as small as 25 microns. The filtering media provides outstanding filtration and keeps low flow restrictions.

The filter is made of a nitrile rubber base gasket will prevent leaks. Additionally, the silicone anti-drain back valve will prevent any dry starts too. This product has a decent lifespan of 10,000 miles because the end caps, center tube, and the bypass valve are made of metal.

3. Purolator Spin On Oil Filter

Purolator stands for ’pure oil later’. It’s a company that has been around for more than 90 years now. During that time they have been providing some of the best oil filters you could put in your car.

The Purolator One features a high-density synthetic blend media which offers 99% efficiency. You can rely on it for 10,000 miles straight without any worries. It will save you a decent amount of money in the long run.

Purolator is budget friendly, considering the value they provide, which made it one of our top picks. Every component of this filter is made of premium materials. This includes the metal bypass, the metal center tube, anti-drain back valve, and the silicone anti-drain back valve.

This combination of materials makes the filter quite durable. Additionally, the wire-backed media will help in maintaining the structural integrity of the filter.

4. ACDelco Oil Filter

ACDelco is a massive company that produces automotive accessories. Their professional engine oil filter can process contaminants with a 98% efficiency at 25-30 microns. Its multi-layer filtering system does an incredible job at getting rid of the dirt in your oil.

This filter differentiates itself from its competitors with the thermosetting adhesive seal. It is located in the base and creates an even tighter seal as the temperature rises. Furthermore, the aluminum shell offers a higher-than-average burst threshold, but only if your normal operating temperature doesn’t go higher than 51 PSI.

Overall, there are better oil filters on the market, but for the price, ACDelco is quite solid. It fits into just about any car on the road, even into light-duty trucks and sport utility vehicles. If you’re looking to make the most cost-effective buy, this ACDelco filter is the way to go.

5. WIX Spin-On Filter

WIX is a brand known for manufacturing filters for fuel, oil, and air. If you need any kind of filter in your car, WIX has your back. The company offers three different types of oil filters for light trucks and regular trucks. One that stands out the most among these is the Spin-On lube filter.

It has impressive durability in high temperatures, thanks to the hydrogenated nitrile sealing gasket. Moreover, among the other premium features, you’ll find a steel base plate, a metal center tube, and metal end caps. Unlike many oil filters on the market, the coiled spring is made of metal, not plastic.

Overall, the construction is outstanding and the media premium quality too. It provides a 99% efficiency and is made from a synthetic material with a 55.5 square inch area. Additionally, it’s wired-backed, which makes the build sturdier and more robust. The only weird thing about this filter’s build is the shape. It might require having a specific wrench. But once you get it screwed on, it will do its job consistently without a problem.

If you drive a truck, move a lot between cities or do a lot of traveling, this filter will be your top choice. It’s best for cars that have a lot of idle time and do lots of miles on the highway. WIX’s Spin-on Lube Filter was designed for extra durability.

What to Look for in an Oil Filter

bad oil filter

Motor oil is used to lubricate engine parts and in the case of oil filters, it absorbs and holds organic and inorganic contaminants. Organic contaminants consist of bugs and bacteria. Inorganic contaminants consist of metallic particles.

The oil filter plays one of the most important roles in car maintenance. As we mentioned it filters organic and inorganic particulates from entering your engine. The filter is essentially the kidney of the vehicle.

Let’s take a look at the different types of oil filters.

Types of Oil Filters

There are a few different types of filters. They vary based on their anatomy and method of filtering particulates. Let’s take a look at some of the different types available.

inside oil filter


Mechanical filters are the most common type of oil filter. This filter makes use of materials like pleated filter paper or cotton waste to suspend the particulates. As you might imagine though, as more and more particles are suspended, the flow of oil slows down. As a result, mechanical filters need to be changed more frequently.


The first oil filters to come out were the cartridge. These cartridges are a permanent housing where you need to replace the filter media. The design has improved and they now spin-on which means they are quite easy to change.


As the name implies this filter uses magnets or electromagnets to suspend metal contaminants from the oil. Cleaning this type of filter only requires you to remove the collected metallic impurities and you won’t need to replace the filter. However, they are ineffective on dust.


These filters are also known as gravity bed. They use the natural gravitational forces to settle suspended materials. However, they aren’t the most efficient at filtering contaminants.

Centrifugal or “Spinner”

Similar to sedimentation, it uses natural centrifugal forces, ie forces as a result of rotation. These filters are comprised of two sections, a housing and membrane. When the media is clogged you only need to replace it while the housing chamber is usable. An important component of spinner filters is the base gasket. You should have a mechanic inspect the base gasket every 3,000 miles.

types of filters

Oil Filter Media Type

This is the part of the filter that does the cleaning. It looks like paper, but it can be actually made of cellulose, synthetic or a mix of both.


This media can be made of nylon, polyester, or glass. They are more efficient because the fibers are smaller. These fibers are crosshatched which allow for the finest particles to be filtered while still maintaining flow rates. Synthetic media can remove particles ranging from 20-40 microns. These should be replaced every 5,000 to 7,000 miles. The only downside is they are more expensive.


Most disposable media contain cellulose. It’s a plant-based material that’s inferior to synthetic media. This filter can help with particles 8-10 microns in size. These filters should be checked or replaced every 3,000 miles. It performs better with heavy oils and keeps its form under high pressure.


This media is the most expensive. It is made of final metal or microglass. The mesh consists of fibers that are ten times finer than cellulose. They also have less restriction on the flow of motor oil. These filters need to be checked or replaced every 10,000 miles.


Oil filters are an essential component of your vehicle. They help keep your oil flowing properly and prevent any major engine failure. Overall you can’t go wrong with any of the options listed. We’ve found synthetic media to be the best in terms of performance and you should look for filters that are rated for 5,000 to 10,000 miles.


Richard Reed
I've been a General Manager of a moving company and I've also been a Professional Mover for over 30 years. I've driven flat beds, reefers, dropdecks, moving vans, heavy machinery, etc. In my time as a Mover I've driven over 1,000,000 safe miles. My days of moving and driving truck are past me but The Vehicle Lab allows me to share the knowledge I've gained over the past 40 years.

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