the oil filter hierarchy (protip: buy purolator pureone)
Monday, January 16, 2012 at 19:34
Eric in diesel, maintenance

PureOne oil filter by Purolator. Click to enlarge.As a disclaimer, I offer absolutely no evidence to back up the opinions I'm about to share. However, I've been changing my own oil since I was 16 on a variety of cars, boats, motorcycles, and fixed engines. There are existing studies, I've done a pile of research of my own, and invite you to do your own. Here's what I've found, feel free to disagree.

We'll start with the primer that there is the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) option. Rebel Heart is powered by a Yanmar 4JH2E engine, and Yanmar of course offers it's own oil filter, which is the one that shipped out when the engine was new. 

Oil filters tend to be one of the products that oil filter companies build better (and cheaper) than engine companies, and there are three big players.

The common man's filter: Fram. Our boat takes a a PH3593A, which comes in around $8 or so. Fram makes a lot of oil filters, and it's likely that you have one installed right now on your car or boat. Sadly, there are many stories of Fram filters bursting and their quality control in general is fairly crap. Many people have years of success with Fram, but in a lot of independent examinations they end up on the bottom of the quality charts.

Fram oil filter. Click to enlarge.

Making a huge jump up the quality scale from Fram is Wix, and interestingly enough the cost is roughly the same. Our Yanmar takes a 51334, which comes in at roughly the same cost as the Fram. 

Wix patented the first spin on filters in 1954, and they offer a great informational piece on their website regarding the build and makeup of an oil filter

At the top end of the filters rests the Purolator models. Taking it a step further, Purolator also has the PureONE models boasting a 99.9% filtration quality and numerous other construction quality improvements. And at least for us (running a L14459) the cost is actually a couple of dollars less than the comparable Wix and Fram models. 

According to Yanmar, "... the quality and cleanliness of lubrication oil is the single most important contributor to a healthy and long running diesel engine."

Reading about bursting Fram filters and a desire to save yourself a few bucks should point you towards the Wix or Purolator models. You'll probably be fine running Fram for your entire life, but why chance it? If you're not sure where to start next, go to the websites for Wix and Purolator. They have "matching competitor product" searching, where you can enter your Fram part number to come up with their own.

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