Filtering oil is essential if you want to keep your vehicle working optimally. While you can clean your oil routinely, leaving the oil filter to fend for itself can lead to problems. That may be why you opt to use an oil filter magnet. The purpose of the magnet is to catch stray metal particles floating around in the oil that could damage your engine. However, are oil filter magnets worth it? Or should you spend your money elsewhere?
Let’s find out.
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What Are Oil Filter Magnets?
Did you know that in the past there were cars that didn’t even come with oil filters? Now you do. Oil filters were optional in many models all the way into the 1960s and only became standard practice to include oil filtration in every vehicle.
Oil filter magnets have been around for a while and may even be a spin-off of early magnetic-based filtration systems. These weren’t popular and soon vanished from the market. Modern magnets connect straight to the oil filter as a way to remove ferrous (iron) filings from the oil running through your car.
Typically there shouldn’t be any metal filings in your oil and you may wonder why we mention this. As engine parts start to wear with age and mileage they can start to break down causing metal filings to be produced. A part that can be prone to this type of wear is the fuel pump or oil pump, this is due to moving parts starting to rub and effectively chip.
Oil filter magnets come in many shapes and sizes. Most fit snugly onto the filter, either by connecting to the top (rod magnets) or connecting to the sides (flow-through version).
How Do Oil Filter Magnets Work?
There is a lot of controversy about whether oil filter magnets are a worthwhile investment. Some people believe that putting on a magnet on the outside of the filter catches nothing because the filtration speed of the oil impairs the magnet’s ability to catch any metallic particles. Others have found that oil filter magnets are strong enough to pull pieces of metal from the oil, though it depends on the quality of the oil and other factors.
Check out this video that examines the functionality of oil filter magnets:
An excellent point is made in the video: That oil filter magnets are kind of like a pre-filter for the actual filter. Instead of clogging up the oil filter with a load of steel and iron that was leftover in the oil, you can pull that debris to the sides and let the oil filter remove other impurities it’s designed for.
Reasons To Use Oil Filter Magnets
Magnets for oil filters may not be essential, but they do have their purposes. There are two main reasons why you should use an oil filter magnet:
1. Oil Filter Magnets Do Catch Metal Particles
Over time your engine and transmission system will start to wear down, causing metal filings and particles to be cycled through the engine. The oil filter is used to stop any damage from occurring from these particles and filings. If your vehicle is getting older or has higher mileage then wear is likely to occur more rapidly. Using a magnet oil filter will help prevent contamination from causing additional engine damage, by reducing metal contamination.
For this reason alone, oil filter magnets are a very useful way to protect your car, especially if you have already done other upgrades or own a classic vehicle.
2. Oil Filter Magnets Keep The Filter Cleaner
Even if you are running the best high mileage oils, you are still going to need a clean oil filter. Filters will get dirty quickly, especially if you are driving in extreme conditions. Plus, most oil filters aren’t designed to pick up the smaller filaments of metal. Many cars and smaller trucks have oil filters with an absolute micron rating of around 25 microns, this means they capture 98.7% of 25-micron particles. Unfortunately, many metal particles in your engine can be smaller than this meaning they’re more highly at risk of not being captured by the filter.
Guess what happens when your oil filter is clogged up? You get dirty oil. Once the oil filter cannot do its job, the bypass valve is engaged. Oil moves around the filter rather than through it, so nothing is filtered. Now you have dirty oil lubricating your engine, causing damage every second. It’s even worse when that dirty oil is full of metal shavings.
With a magnet on your oil filter, you are removing those tiny pieces of metal that lead to even dirtier and more dangerous oil in your car. As long as those metal shavings are gone, the dirty oil will support your car long enough for you to get the oil and filter changed.
Are Oil Filter Magnets Worth It?
What are the downsides to using oil filter magnets? While oil filter magnets do work in most circumstances, they are not 100% effective. Plus, you have to make a larger investment and get a higher quality magnet in order for the full benefits. Cheap oil filter magnets are not designed to withstand high heat or extreme conditions, and they may lose functionality.
That said, under normal conditions, oil filter magnets do last and can be used on multiple oil filters, but the premium models are expensive. You might decide that the extra out-of-pocket cost is not worthwhile, especially when even high-end models are not completely effective.
To save money and filter out more impurities, you could get a reusable oil filter, for example. Or you could stay ahead of your oil changes and use better quality motor oil.
Are oil filter magnets worthwhile? The verdict is up to you and your vehicle. Do you think disposable magnets that remove oil particles are important? Or do you prefer to combat engine damage with routine maintenance and higher-quality parts? One option is to try an oil magnet filter to see if it helps the performance of your oil filter or vehicle then go from there.
If your vehicle is getting high in mileage and parts are starting to wear more rapidly, it’s wiser to use an oil filter magnet. If you’ve got an older or classic vehicle oil filter magnets are worthwhile to protect your pride and joy.
Using an oil filter magnet is all about risk mitigation, spending a little to potentially save a lot. If you’ve got a new car or a car you don’t necessarily “care” too much about you may be best to not spend on an oil filter magnet.
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