Ik Soon's Super Basics #1: Oil Filter. The difference between GENUINE and FAKE oil filters.
Updated: Oct 5, 2021
Welcome to the first post on Ik Soon's super basics on oil filters!
WHAT IS AN OIL FILTER?
An oil filter plays the important role of filtering contaminants from engine oils.
Back then during my great-great-great grandfather's time, engines do not use any oil filters, the only protection it gets is a thin mesh placed at intake of the oil pump and with the pairing of lower quality engine oil, oil changes were much more frequent.
The most common type of oil filters found in modern cars nowadays (not electric) would be the cartridge type oil filter. The cartridge oil filter has revolutionized the automotive world with its independent design which consists of the housing and filter element that is meant to be used and replaced at each oil change which is more convenient and less messy. The oil filter forms part of the oil passage which meant that every cycle of lubrication is filtered thus giving a longer interval between oil changes.
WHAT IS INSIDE AN OIL FILTER?
This is where things get interesting. While looking simple on the outside, the insides of the oil filter is actually a piece of intelligent engineering designed to make filtration elegantly efficient.
Now, the inside of an oil filter consists of:
a spring, which sits on top
a by-pass valve (The green part in the photo above)
a anti-drain membrain
The 2 types of spring inside an oil filter. It's function is to hold the filter media snugged within the oil filter cavity. The types of spring used depends largely on the manufacturer but they share the same purpose.
This is the anti-drain membrane. This retains engine oil in the filter when the engine is shut off as to prevent a "dry start" when the engine is started up again. This bad boi also makes sure the oil only flows in a single direction.
See me poking that bit with a pencil? That's the by-pass valve of the oil filter. This serves as a safety mechanism when there is a blockage in the filter, it will release the built up pressure by allowing oil to continue its flow to prevent engine damage from the lack of oil. When this valve is opened, this would mean that some oil will flow through unfiltered.
At last, the main sauce that makes it a filter. It is made out of industrial strength paper is that is able to withstand high flow of liquid while filtering out dirt and debris. Manufacturers will manufacture these filters based on the requirements of the engine. The amount of filtration done depends on the surface area of the filter material. Basically, the more folds, the more surface area for filtration. Now this bags the question, what is the difference between a genuine oem oil filter and an aftermarket third party oil filter?
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GENUINE OEM OIL FILTERS & AFTERMARKET OIL FILTERS.
What is OEM and what is aftermarket?
OEM oil filters are made by either the car manufacturer or the company they hired to manufacture the oil filter while aftermarket oil filters are designed and manufactured by third parties not affiliated with the car manufacturer.
Aftermarket or third party brands should not be confused with being a counterfeit product. A counterfeit product are manufactured using the car manufacturer's name and branding with no prior approval or affiliation. Aftermarket products are products developed by an independent manufacturer that produce their own brand with their own R&D. There could be counterfeit products for aftermarket brands as well!
Let's take a closer look at 2 different oil filters for Proton:
In this image, you can see that the filter on the left is the Genuine OEM Proton Oil Filter while the filter on the right is an Aftermarket Oil Filter for Proton manufactured by Koyoroki.
At first glance, you could immediately see the difference between the oil filters which is:
The colour of the filter element.
The number of folds between the genuine oem one and the aftermarket one.
well, you cant see this but the price difference. RM12.50 for the oem Proton one, RM9.50 for the aftermarket one. (price is accurate at time of writing)
The colour of the filter element shows the difference in material used by the respective manufacturers. The manufacturer of the oem Proton ones are manufactured based on the requirements and specs set out by Proton. The colour of the aftermarket one is lighter because Koyoroki uses paper filter made from bamboo pulp where their R&D has shown to provide better temperature resistance, stronger durability with a higher filtration efficiency.
Moving on to the folds, you could see that the oem Proton has lesser folds than the aftermarket one. Based on this, you could tell that the Proton one actually has lesser filter surface. Does this mean the aftermarket one is actually better than the oem proton one? The answer is both yes and no. When you buy the oem Proton oil filter, you are actually getting something that is designed to work 100% on your vehicle with no fuss and worries. The aftermarket one, for this instance performs better than the oem Proton one. However, there are so many different brands around and as a consumer, you might be unsure of its quality and performance! Therefore, a genuine OEM part might just be the right choice for you.
We at Ik Soon Auto Supply try to cater to every type of consumer and therefore we carry both genuine OEM and aftermarket oil filters. The aftermarket brand of oil filters that we currently carry is Koyoroki. Koyoroki oil filters are made locally with high quality materials that could give you similar, if not better performance than the genuine OEM ones. Whether you are buying a genuine OEM one or an aftermarket one from us, rest assured that you are getting the best.
HOW DOES A USED OIL FILTER LOOKS LIKE?
We saved up our old used oil filters from our cars so that we could show you how would an oil filter look like after 10,000km and how would an oil filter looks like if your engine is not in the best shape.
The picture above shows you how a high quality genuine oil filter (where its genuine OEM or aftermarket) should look like after 10,000km of use. You could see that the filter element kept its shape, there were no punctures or any sign of excessive wear which meant that this filter is able to carry out its job perfectly.
Since we're inside, we could see the what the oil filter caught. Based on our finding, this filter has very minimal metal shavings and contains some bit carbon which meant this engine is in relatively good health.
Normally, you'll find these inside an used oil filter:
Metal shavings. Normally, this would mean that some parts of the engine (eg, cylinder walls, etc) are not getting the lubrication they need or might even be the usage of wrong engine oil.
Carbon deposits. Some are normal but if there is excessive carbon deposits, this would normally mean a worn piston ring and your engine would have excessive engine oil consumption and might even show lower compression readings.
Now, here is what it would look like if the engine is unhealthy.
The oil filter above is a performance high flow oil filter which uses a wire gauze as its filter element instead of the usual paper filter. This oil filter has shown us the health of an engine after it has been tracked and abused for a long time. Despite the difference in filter material, you could still gauge the engine health where the engine where this filter came from did actually have worn piston rings and also a loss of compression amongst other problems.
Having a good oil filter would mean that you are able to catch these tell tales signs and would prevent the debris from cycling through the engine causing further damage!
COUNTERFEIT OIL FILTER: SWEET DEAL WITH A BITTER AFTERTASTE.
Living in Malaysia, we are quite familiar with counterfeit products. Counterfeit products often offers lower prices and they claim to provide "the same level of performance" when it is far from the truth. Counterfeit products are manufactured by irresponsible parties just to make a quick buck by misleading consumers into believing that they are getting genuine products.
As it is difficult to tell a fake from a genuine filter, the obvious indicator of a counterfeit product would be the price. If it is too good to be true, it usually is.
With the presence of online shopping especially on sites like S***ee and L****a, we always hear walk in customers telling us,
Harga oil filter ori Toyota dalam s***ee jual RM5.00 je.
( "The price for a Genuine OEM Toyota oil filter only cost RM5.00 on s***ee")
While we understand from the consumer standpoint that we should always compare prices before making a purchase (In fact, this is something that we encourage as it keeps us competitive) but we could not stand idly by when consumers are misled and many honest establishment are forced to make a loss to compete with counterfeit products.
The market rate for a Genuine OEM Toyota 90915 - YZZE1 Oil filter is around RM18.50 with slight variations depending on location. In the image above, we could see that they are selling the filter at RM4.85 which is over 60% cheaper than our cost price. Being in the auto parts industry for more than 20 years, this simply doesn't make sense to us.
"But they SOLD over 2,000 UNITS and has many 5 Star rating!"
Well, we can't say much, maybe this online shop adopted a charitable non-profit business model where they sell genuine products wayyyyyyy below market rate. Or maybe, just maybe, this shows how many consumers are actually misled and aren't actually getting what they think they paid for.
"I've used it many times and so far I have not encountered any problems."
Wow, aren't you lucky! Normally problems would manifest itself as other issues like premature wear, blockage in oil passage, worn out piston rings, unusual wear in piston wall, rod knocking and many other weird knocking noises coming from your engine that would put the blue man group to shame. In most cases, no one would ever suspect the culprit is the oil filter.
"The packaging looks like the actual genuine product!"
Unfortunately, with modern technology, one is able to replicate the packaging to be almost identical. However, they can never replicate the technology behind the genuine product and often times, there are tell tale signs that a product is fake, you could sometimes identify it from:
Cutting the item open to inspect (unrealistic)
If you are still unsure, you can always reach out to us. We pride ourselves in always letting our customers know what type of product they are getting. We see it as an opportunity where we can learn from each other.
Even though we mentioned that cutting the oil filter open to inspect it as unrealistic, we did have a few samples to show you what you are actually getting when you purchase the oil filter from a dodgy place. These are marketed as genuine Toyota Oil Filters selling for less than RM10.00.
From these samples, you could see the potential damage to your engine that might leave you or your loved ones stranded by the busy road and also paying huge sums of money for repairs just because of a little bit of "savings".
HOW DO I MAKE SURE THAT I'M GETTING THE REAL STUFF?
Easy, just follow these simple steps:
See the reviews. Reviews are important, focus on reviews that provide real genuine feedback on the item received.
Make sure the online store has a physical location. This will give you a peace of mind when it comes to warranty claims, exchanges and in the event that they are unresponsive online, you can always go straight to their outlet.
Do your own research. Some basic knowledge will always help.
Talk to your local parts shop. We can be contacted via whatsapp, facebook, phone call or you can just simply walk in and ask (Please follow current Covid19 SOPs). We are always happy to help you out!
Trust your gut. If you feel like you are not getting what you want, you can always walk away.
Oil filter important for your engine.
Know what you are getting. Cheap doesn't mean good.
We would like to thank our friend, Eric, for helping us with opening the oil filters and sharing his knowledge on oil filters with us. Thank you for making this article possible!
We hope that this article has helped you in understanding how an oil filter works and what to lookout for while purchasing one. We'd appreciate any feedback regarding this article as we are always looking to improve. Feel free to contact us anytime!