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Spin-on Oil Filters vs. Cartridge-Style – WATCH

A customer wants to know if spin-oil filters are better than cartridge-style filters, or vice versa. We’ll give you a few talking points … on Talking Parts.


This video is sponsored by MAHLE.


These days, engines have a life expectancy of 200,000 miles or more without a major rebuild, and oil filters play a key role in helping them last for the long haul. There are two types of oil filters used today: spin-on and cartridge-style.

Let’s talk about spin-on filters first.  With its steel housing and paper element inside, the spin-on filter is one of the most recognizable engine parts. Spin-on filters are nearly foolproof – especially for the DIYer – due to the simple installation process and minimal need for tools.

Cartridge filters can be harder to install, but they have some advantages.  One of the most popular benefits of the cartridge filter is if it’s mounted upright, the filter can be opened and inspected without draining the oil.  Also, due to environmental concerns, we’re seeing some OEMs and filter manufacturers shift to metal-free cartridge filters that can be recycled or disposed of easier than spin-ons.


So which one is better?  Well, like the tastes great/less filling debate in those Miller Lite commercials from the 1980s, they’re both good. No matter what style of oil filter your customer needs, the quality of the element is what’s most important. Going from a paper element that filters 40 microns to a fully synthetic medium that filters out much finer particles can reduce engine wear by as much as 50%.

In today’s downsized, turbocharged engines, oil filters have to collect more dirt, filter out finer particles and last longer. Whether your customer needs a cartridge-style or spin-on oil filter, make sure you recommend a product with a filter element that can meet the demands of modern vehicles. 

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