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Auto Oil Filters vs. Air Filters: What's the Difference?


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Auto Oil Filters vs. Air Filters: What's the Difference?

Every car owner understands that regular maintenance is essential to keep the vehicle functioning smoothly. One of the critical steps of car maintenance is replacing filters regularly. Filters are essential components that trap impurities within automobile systems before they can cause damage. Two critical filters are responsible for filtering the air that flows into the engine and trapping contaminants in the oil. These are the air filters and oil filters.

If you are wondering about their differences, this article will discuss it in detail. Read on to learn more.

What are Auto Oil Filters, and How Do They Work?

An auto oil filter is a filtering unit that is in charge of cleaning the engine oil of any impurities that can hinder the efficient performance of the engine. The engine oil assists in the lubrication of the machinery, reducing friction, and wear and tear of engine parts. This filter functions to ensure that the oil is free of any impurities that may cause engine damage.

The filter operates by utilizing a particular medium capable of trapping the contaminants. Typically, the most common auto oil filter is made of cellulose, synthetic blends, or synthetic materials that are capable of capturing any form of contaminants in the engine oil. Oil filters come in three standard shapes; the cartridge type, the spin-on type, and the magnetic filter.

What are Auto Air Filters, and How Do They Work?

An auto air filter is responsible for cleansing the engine air of any contaminants that may diminish the power output of an automobile engine. Air filters trap dust, dirt, and other unwanted pollutants that can cause harm during engine combustion, reducing the vehicle's overall performance. A quality air filter is necessary to ensure the optimal functioning of the engine.

Air filters automatically function as the air goes through it, trapping small particles to prevent them from entering the engine cylinder. It is also in charge of regulating the amount of air that passes through the engine. A dirty or clogged filter can hinder airflow, leading to reduced engine performance.

Difference between Auto Oil Filters and Air filters

Auto oil filters and air filters differ in function, design, and process of cleaning. Here are the main differences between the two filters:


Oil filters are responsible for cleaning the engine oil from impurities that can cause engine damage. On the other hand, air filters filter and purify the air entering the engine, preventing the accumulation of dust, dirt, and unwanted particles.


The two filters differ in terms of their design. The auto oil filter comes in three common shapes—the cartridge type, the spin-on type and the magnetic type. Auto air filters, however, typically have a cylindrical or panel-like shape custom-fitted to the vehicle's engine compartment.

Filtering Process

Auto oil filters, as mentioned earlier, work by trapping impurities from the oil, whereas air filters function to trap and purify the air as it flows through the engine. Oil filters are disposable and often need to be changed during the oil change, while air filters may need periodic cleaning or replacement.


The cost of air filters and oil filters differs. Air filters are usually less expensive than oil filters. However, if not appropriately maintained, an air filter can compromise your engine and eventually become expensive to fix, which can also cause an increase in fuel consumption.


In conclusion, both auto oil filters and air filters play a crucial role in ensuring that your vehicle engine runs smoothly. While they differ in design, function, and cost, it is essential to understand that both the air and oil filters require proper maintenance according to the vehicle manufacturer's guidelines. By maintaining the auto filters and replacing them when necessary, you can save yourself from costly engine repairs. Ensure that you replace the oil filter, oil, and air filter together during the scheduled oil change to keep your engine running efficiently.


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