Finding the right oil filter for your car can get confusing. All of the oil filter manufacturers have their own numbering systems. If you wish to change between brands, you need to know how to read cross-referencing charts. Since using an inferior quality filter can lead to a shortened engine life, it is imperative that you use the recommended filter (or equivalent) recommended by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of the engine. After finding the OEM's filter, you can move forward and cross-reference the original number to other brands of filters.
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Your first starting point should be the OEM's recommended filter. The Ford Motor Company's parts bear the Motorcraft name. For example, a 2001 Ford Ranger Truck with a three-liter engine uses Motorcraft Filter Number FL-400-S. This is your starting point, from which you start cross-referencing other brands of filters.
After you find the OEM filter number you need, start cross-referencing to other brands. You will need a cross-reference chart, usually available at auto parts stores. If a chart is not available, manufacturers of different brands supply their own cross-reference charts. In the Ford Ranger truck example, the OEM part number is FL-400-S. The Fram Company states that this filter cross-references to its part numbers PH8316 and PH3600.
The issue of quality is always a concern. You do not want to use a filter that provides less protection than the OEM filter. If a filter company cannot state that their filter meets or exceeds the OEM's specifications, stay away from it. Competing brands all use a great deal of salesmanship. All of the brands state that their products are the best. If you are in doubt, stick with the OEM's recommended filter, since they know what is designed for their engine.
Know Your Engine
It is imperative that you know your engine. Thousands of different filters exist for thousands of engines. The possibility exists that even two same sized engines, manufactured in different years, may take completely different filters. You must know the make and model of your vehicle, the year of the engine and its size. Furthermore, you must know if your vehicle has four-wheel or two-wheel drive, since this may affect filter types. In a nutshell, the more you know about your vehicle, the better.
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