Blog Car Care Advice What Are The Types Of Oil Filters? (+3 FAQs)
Car Care Advice

What Are The Types Of Oil Filters? (+3 FAQs)

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Your car’s oil filter prevents waste, metal particles, and other contaminants from circulating in your engine, keeping the oil flow smooth.

However, eventually, the filter gets blocked — which is why you need to get your oil filter replaced regularly. 

But there are numerous types of oil filters. 

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

And what goes into an engine oil filter?

To answer all these questions, we’ll discuss the different oil filter types and go through some FAQs, including the types of filter media, to get a good picture of the oil filter.

This Article Contains:

Let’s start!

2 Main Types Of Oil Filters

There is a wide range of oil filters in the market. 

However, you can broadly categorize them under two types of oil filters:

Let’s take a look:

1. Primary Oil Filter

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

It’s called a full flow filter because, unlike certain filters that only filter some of your car’s motor oil, it can eliminate contaminants from all of the motor oil used by your car engine.

It’s worth noting that a full flow filter is ideal for colder temperatures.


Extreme cold conditions can make your motor oil thick, and most filters will restrict the oil flow making filtration difficult. This can severely damage the engine.

However, the primary oil filter offers engine protection by letting your motor oil pass more easily through the engine than other types of filters, even after thickening in cold temperatures.

Let’s take a look at some primary filter or full flow filter types.

2 Primary Oil Filter Types

Here are the most common primary oil filter types to keep your engine oil clean and protect your car from engine wear:

A. Cartridge Oil Filter

The cartridge oil filter is also sometimes known as an eco oil filter.

That’s because this full flow filter type has no metal parts and can be easily recycled in many cases. The cartridge oil filter is also preferred for its ease of use. And if it’s positioned upright, your mechanic can usually inspect the cartridge filter without removing your engine oil.

B. Spin-On Oil Filter

Another full flow filter is a spin-on oil filter.

Unlike a cartridge oil filter, this primary filter type isn’t as eco-friendly. It uses a steel canister paired with a paper filter element.A spin-on oil filter is great for people who wish to DIY their fuel filter changes because its easy replacement hardly requires any complex tools.

Now that you know about the primary filter types, let’s move on to the secondary filter types.

2. Secondary Oil Filter

The next main type of oil filter is a secondary oil filter. It’s used to support your car’s full flow filter.

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

A secondary oil filter adds an extra layer of engine protection and can easily prolong the life of your motor oil.

Another name for a secondary oil filter is a bypass filter. 

However, they’re entirely different from a bypass valve.

What’s a bypass valve?

A bypass valve is a pressure relief valve designed to open when the oil thickens or when the oil filter is clogged. The opening allows oil flow to bypass the oil filter via a center tube, offering the engine protection from damage.

Note: A secondary filter works independently of the primary oil filter. If your car doesn’t have one, you can always get it installed later on.

Now let’s check out the two secondary filter types that can support your primary filter.

2 Secondary Oil Filter Types

Here are the most common secondary oil filter (or bypass filter) types:

A. Spinner Oil Filter

The spinner filter is also known as a centrifugal oil filter. As the name suggests, this secondary oil filter uses centrifugal force to trap contaminants in your motor oil.

Here’s an interesting fact: 

Some spinner oil filters can produce a force that’s 2,000 times greater than gravity’s force. That’s why this type of bypass filter can filter the smallest contaminants from your motor oil.

A spinner filter generally has a filter housing chamber and membrane (filter medium). When the filtration media gets clogged, your mechanic will only need to replace the filter media, and the filter housing chamber stays usable.

Another important component of a spinner filter is the base gasket. It’s designed to restrict motor oil from leaking.

Unfortunately, a spinner filter isn’t the most durable fuel filter, so when you go to an auto shop for an oil and fuel filter change, let a mechanic check the base gasket too.

B. Magnetic Oil Filter

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

This secondary filter can clean the oil of metallic contaminants, but it’s grime or dirt holding capacity isn’t great. 

The good news is, unlike other engine oil filters, you don’t need to get a magnetic oil filter replaced. Just get your magnetic oil filter cleaned regularly by a professional mechanic to keep filtered oil flowing into your engine.

Now that you know all about the different types of oil filters, let’s answer some common questions that you may have regarding engine oil filters.

3 Engine Oil Filter FAQs

Here are some FAQs that’ll help you understand engine oil filters better:

1. What Makes Up An Engine Oil Filter?

An engine oil filter has these components:

2. What Is A Thermal Chamber Oil Filter?

Thermal chamber oil filters work in two ways to protect your car from engine wear.

One, it filters the motor oil to remove contaminants.

And two, it raises its temperature to refine the motor oil and destroy certain contaminants in it.

3. What Are The Different Types Of Filter Media

Oil filters have different media (filter medium) inside them. 

This filter medium will filter out and remove the contaminants of your circulating motor oil.

Here are the most common filter media:

Final Thoughts

Oil filters are important components of your vehicle that you should care for. Change them or the filter element (if separable) as recommended to maintain your engine protection from contaminated oil.

To know what kind of oil filtration system your car has and when to get your car oil filter changed, refer to your owner’s manual or just reach out to AutoNation Mobile Service.

They’re a mobile auto repair and maintenance shop that offers competitive pricing, upfront cost estimates, and effortless online booking.
Contact them, and they’ll come knocking at your door with help for any and every repair or replacement your car may need!