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Choosing Between Spin-On and Cartridge Auto Oil Filters: Which is Better?


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Choosing Between Spin-On and Cartridge Auto Oil Filters: Which is Better?

Car owners know the importance of keeping their car’s engine in top condition, and an effective way to do so is by choosing the right oil filter. There are two main types of auto oil filters available on the market today, spin-on and cartridge filters. Each type has its own unique benefits, but which one is better? In this article, we will explore the differences between spin-on and cartridge auto oil filters to help you determine which one is the most suitable for your vehicle’s needs.

What is an Oil Filter?

Before we get into the differences between spin-on and cartridge oil filters, it’s important to understand what an oil filter is and how it works. The engine oil filter is an essential component of your car that keeps the engine oil clean and free of debris. The oil filter removes impurities and contaminants from the oil, so it can effectively lubricate your car’s engine to prevent metal-to-metal friction, overheating, and engine damage.

What are Spin-On Oil Filters?

As the name suggests, spin-on oil filters are designed to be replaced by “spinning” them on and off during routine maintenance. Spin-on filters consist of a metal canister that houses the filter media. The canister typically contains an anti-drain-back valve and a threaded center hole that connects the oil filter to the engine block. The spin-on filter requires a special tool to remove and replace it, making it an easy and efficient option.

Advantages of Spin-On Filters

One of the main advantages of spin-on filters is their convenience. These filters can be quickly replaced, even without professional help. They are also available in a wide range of brands and models, so you can easily find a replacement filter that suits your needs. Spin-on filters are also less likely to leak than cartridge filters, as they are permanently sealed.

Disadvantages of Spin-On Filters

While spin-on filters are convenient to replace, the cost of these filters can add up quickly. You may need to replace the filter more often than a cartridge filter, which can be more costly in the long run, especially if you have a high mileage vehicle. Spin-on filters can also be difficult to recycle, as they are made of both metal and plastic components.

What are Cartridge Oil Filters?

Cartridge filters, also known as element filters, are made up of a paper or synthetic filter media that is housed within a permanent metal or plastic container. Cartridge filters are typically cheaper and more compact than spin-on filters. To replace the cartridge filter, you must remove the old filter element and replace it with a new one.

Advantages of Cartridge Filters

One of the main advantages of cartridge filters is their low cost. Cartridge filters are typically less expensive than spin-on filters, making them a popular choice among car owners. The filter media in cartridge filters is also recyclable, which makes them a more eco-friendly option. Additionally, some cartridge filters come with a pre-oil-treated cartridge, ensuring that the new filter is properly lubricated when installed.

Disadvantages of Cartridge Filters

While cartridge filters are cheaper than spin-on filters, they require more maintenance and can be more difficult to replace. Cartridge filters may also be more susceptible to leaking, as they must be carefully installed and torqued to prevent oil from bypassing the filter media. Finally, cartridge filters have limited applications and may not be available for all car models.

Which One Should You Choose?

Choosing between a spin-on filter and a cartridge filter ultimately comes down to personal preference and priorities. If convenience is your top priority, a spin-on filter may be a better option, while those who are more eco-conscious or looking to save money may prefer a cartridge filter. Before selecting a filter for your vehicle, be sure to consult with your mechanic or refer to your car’s owner’s manual to determine which type is best for your car's engine.


Oil filters are an essential component of any vehicle's engine, and selecting the right one can help extend your car's life while also saving you money in the long run. While both spin-on and cartridge filters are effective at removing contaminants from engine oil, the choice between the two depends on your individual needs and priorities. By understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each type, you can make an informed decision and choose the right filter for your car.


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