EXPOSED: THE DODGY OIL FILTERS THAT CAN KILL YOUR ENGINE
Non-genuine counterfeit products that will lead to premature wear and eventual failure of your motor.
4WDers take huge pride in their vehicles. Whether it’s bolt-on accessories, serious modifications or basic servicing, you don’t want to cut corners. The devil is in the details with lots of these things. I for one have spent hours researching the best options for things like oil filters. But this story, sent in via the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, gave me a genuine fright.
Firstly, let’s look at what an oil filter does. Duh. It filters your oil. The oil sitting in your sump is constantly being pumped around the different parts of your engine, which includes an oil filter. Oil comes in, gets pushed through a media (the paper element) which catches any crap the oil is carrying such as metal, dirt, soot, carbon, gunk… you get the idea.
THE IMPORTANCE OF OIL FILTRATION
The key to a long-lasting and well-performing engine is good quantities of good quality and (most importantly) clean oil. Regular oil changes go a long way, but you’ll always have a bit of foreign matter floating around. That’s why god invented oil filters.
Big and small bits of metal spinning around at high revs will shed small shavings periodically. You don’t want these staying in your sump and wearing things out; you want the filter catching them. Dust can get in past the air filter, and fuel might also bring contaminants in past the rings and into the sump. So, yeah – the oil filter has a very important job. Especially in a 4WD, which is at home amongst the bulldust, heat and sand.
THE PROBLEM WITH COUNTERFEIT
How angry would you be if you were using oil filters that weren’t anywhere near the quality you expected? The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries has done a bit of a sting operation, seizing a bunch of counterfeit oil filters and bench testing them to compare them with the genuine article.
These dodgy filters were bought online, where they were advertised as authentic, genuine filters.
Genuine vs counterfeit: Even the packaging looks the same.
It’s actually really scary, especially for someone that prides themselves on sparing no expense on servicing and maintaining their vehicle: People out there are selling counterfeit gear that is dressed up to look genuine.
The world isn’t going to stop turning because you bought that fake Ed Hardy trucker cap in Bali. But your engine could literally stop turning if you’re using these counterfeit filters. Seriously.
THE MEDIA PROBLEM
The amount of technology and research that goes into that filtering media is well beyond me, and something I can never do justice to in only a few words. Let’s just say it’s not just paper – especially with a modern, low tolerance engine.
You can tell by just looking at it, but the guys testing the filters (Denso in Japan and Mobis in Korea) found them to be ‘significantly less effective both in filtration and length of use life across all bench testing’. In other words, as filters, they suck.
THE BYPASS PROBLEM
But it gets worse. In case an oil filter gets blocked by too much crud, a pressure-activated bypass valve is built in so the oil can bypass the blocked filter and keep cycling through the engine.
Get this: These rubbish filters were so rubbish, they were constantly in bypass mode; oil didn’t touch the filter, regardless of how bad it was. You literally might as well blank the whole thing off.
Now, if you’re buying ‘genuine’ oil filters from the boot of some no-name Norman out in the ’burbs, then you probably deserve to slap yourself. A couple of times. But hey, I thought I could handle that vindaloo curry after one or two too many beers that time. But I made that mistake. We all make mistakes sometimes.
These filters were for sale online; and like many of us out there, I buy stuff online for my car all the time… which makes this pretty frightening.
What’s the solution?
Cough up the extra few dollars for the more expensive option – especially if you want your engine to last long distance. Manufacturers charge like a wounded bull for servicing and genuine parts, but that peace of mind is worth something. As is always the case when money is involved, the smart operators amongst us will do the research and make an educated decision. Only buy reputable, good quality service parts from a reputable seller… or suffer the potential consequences. That might be the dealer, or some kinds of approved resellers. Once again, do your own research to discover which product best suits you, your budget and your vehicle. You can bet your bottom dollar it won’t be the cheapest option, but make sure it’s the best.