Are Oil Filters Universal

Are Oil Filters Universal? Let’s Find Out!  

Oil filters are a crucial part of your car. It protects the engine of your car from coming in contact with contaminants. Thus, protecting your engine from a number of unwanted problems. However, replacing an oil filter is generally a bit of a hassle.

Since they are a very prominent part of your vehicle, you can’t just buy the first oil filter you find. So, you might ask, are oil filters universal? 

No, there’s no “one size fits all” policy for oil filters! There are a plethora of oil filters available in the market, based on size, type of oil, oil microns, etc. You have to choose the right filter based on your needs!

In this article, we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about oil filters, let’s begin!

Are Oil Filters Really Universal? 

Now, let’s ask the all-important question, “are oil filters universal?” 

No, oil filters are not universal! You can’t buy the first filter that you find! Most manufacturers have a type of filter recommended based on your car’s engine. Follow your engine manual to find the one you need!

This is taken into account based on a number of factors. This includes the type of engine, size, type of engine oil, etc. Furthermore, getting the wrong filter could be detrimental for your engine, so keep that in mind as well!

How to Know the Size of my Oil Filter? 

The size of the filter depends on the number of flutes. The steps for measuring the size of your filter are- 

  • Remove the filter from your vehicle and drain it into a catch pan. 
  • Measure the diameter of the screw hole of the filter. Also, measure the threads with a thread gauge.
  • Count the number of flutes and measure from one end to another. Make sure the length and number of flutes are similar in your new filter.
  • Measure the height of the filter with a ruler. If there’s space, you can also fit a filter larger than average. 

How Do Oil Filters Work?

Before we get into discussing the types, we need to understand how oil filters work. Now, as the name suggests, the task of the oil filter is to purify the oil as it goes into your engine. Your engine needs clean motor oil to run, and that’s why an oil filter is so important!

The oil filter is made of a mesh of synthetic fibers. The material in the mesh lets the oil pass, keeping the dirt on the other side. Generally, the mesh is placed in multiple layers to ensure a high surface area and greater absorption. 

Firstly, the oil goes through a tapping plate with two holes in it. You put your oil through the smaller hole and it gets into the engine through the larger hole in the back. The filtered oil goes to the mesh and expands, eventually going to the engine. 

Also, there are back and relief valves to ensure the oil doesn’t trickle down to other places. The anti-drain back valve prevents the oil from getting back into your filter. However, you need to clean the engine regularly to prevent any oil from sedimenting.

There are two valves in the oil filter. There’s also a relief valve that discharges a small amount of unfiltered oil to keep the engine moving. During winters, if the oil gets too cold inside, the unfiltered oil gives the engine a boost which warms up the engine oil. 

Finally, there are two end discs that protect the engine and the filter. It prevents any unfiltered oil from entering the engine. 

Types of Oil Filters

There are many types of oil filters available. Generally, manufacturers choose oil filters based on multiple factors. These include the type of engine, the space in the car, and the function of the filter. 

The types of filters include- 

Full-Flow Oil Filter 

Popularly known as the primary filter, the full-flow oil filter is the most common car oil filter. What makes a full-flow filter special is that it’s designed to purify any sort of oil in your vehicle.


A full-flow oil filter is generally larger than other oil filters. As a result, the oil can move freely within the filter, preventing it from coagulating. This makes the full-flow filter ideal for cold climates. 

Secondary Oil Filter 

As the name suggests, secondary oil filters are used with the primary oil filter of your vehicle. So, while they aren’t used as standalone filters, they’re often seen in cars with bigger engines. 

They’re mostly seen as additions with full-flow filters, and they filter a maximum of 10% of the oil at a time. They’re generally used to filter any additional impurities that might’ve been left by the main filter.


Spin-On Oil Filter 

If you’re someone who’s into DIYs, a spin-on filter might do the trick for you! This is a full-flow filter with a paper element working as the filter. The mesh paper acts as a stop for the impurities and can be changed. So, they generally have a greater lifespan. 

Also, setting up a spin-on filter is very easy. So, if you understand your vehicle well, you can do it by yourself! 


Magnetic Oil Filter 

Although they aren’t used as a primary filter, a magnetic filter is one of the best things for your engine! Magnetic filters create magnetic zones that collect iron and steel particles from the oil. The magnets are placed in a specific manner to attract all the metallic bits. 

While they won’t attract other categories of dirt, they’re very good at attracting metal bits. And with the rise of pollution and influx of metals in oil, a magnetic oil filter can be good for you! 



Now that we’ve discussed the types of oil filters, here are a few frequently asked questions 

Are Oil Filters Car Specific? 

Oil filters are mostly application-specific. So, manufacturers generally choose filters after taking the dynamics of the engine and other factors into account. So, while other filters might fit your car, they might not be right for you.

What Happens When You Use the Wrong Filter? 

Using the wrong filter can cause a number of problems. These include lack of flow, wrong oil pressure and infiltration of dirt in your engine, etc. So, getting the right filter is crucial.


The oil filter is an underrated, yet significant part of your vehicle! It’s the coat of arms that protects your engine from damage. So, choosing the right oil filter is crucial for your vehicle! 

If you’re wondering, “are oil filters universal” or if you could use any oil filter available, we hope you found your answer! 

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