Understanding different Oil Filter Parts, Types, & Functions

The oil filter is designed to purify oil from contamination that could be detrimental to the circulation process of oil in vehicle engines. The design features different parts that perform unique functions to help achieve the end goal – purification. The effect of the oil filtration process is seamless operation and engine durability.

If the filter clogs or becomes dirty, it can hinder the perfect circulation process of engine oil. Without the oil filter, dirt, metal shavings, and other contaminants will enter critical engine parts like the oil pump. Although cars will run without a good oil filter, if that happens, the oil pump will accumulate contaminants and might fail over time.

This article outlines several oil filter parts with brief descriptions. But first, let’s explore the different types of oil filters.

oil filter parts diagram

Types of Oil Filters

There are numerous oil filters in the market. However, they all aim to purify oil from foreign bodies that could harm the engine. Some common types of oil filters are as follows:

Full-flow oil filter

The design of a full-flow oil filter enables it to remove contaminants from oils in a car engine. This type of oil filter is common with many car owners. It is known as a primary oil filter. Unlike other oil filters that purify dirt, full-flow oil can remove impurities from all engine oils.

This oil filter is particularly suitable in colder temperatures when engine oil begins to thicken. It is not restrictive and facilitates clean oil needed to prevent the engine from damage.

Secondary oil filter

This oil filter cleans remnants that the full-flow filter may have missed. In other words, secondary oil filters are intended to support the cleansing process of a full-flow filter. It cleans below 10% of the engine oil.

Primarily, it ensures the longevity of your motor oil by providing extra protection to what full-flow offers the engine.

Cartridge oil filter

Cartridge oil filters are those that are commonly made with non-metal parts and, hence, are more recyclable than the other types. It is a full-flow oil filter mounted upright, making it easy to inspect without removing the oil. It is user-friendly.

Spinner oil filter

The spinner oil filter is another type of secondary oil filter. It traps contaminants from your engine oil by using centrifugal force. Some spinner oil filters generate higher power than gravity, with more than 2000 forces. The spinner oil filter parts can purify even the tiniest contaminants from the motor oil.

A spin-on oil filter

This is also a full-flow oil filter containing a steel canister with a paper element. It is easy to fix by car owners without seeking expert installation service since it doesn’t require sophisticated tools.

Magnetic oil filter

Similar to the spinner oil filter, this filter gives secondary support to the full-flow filter. The magnetic oil filter purifies the engine oils from metallic substances that could pollute the oil. However, unlike other filters, it does little to clean dust and grime.

Differently from others, the magnetic oil filter is not designed for replacement. This filter requires regular cleaning to function as designed. Always clean it with oil filter parts cleaner.

oil filter working principle

Oil filter parts and functions

Anyone can quickly look through the oil filter parts diagram to know what they look like. However, there is more to the simple look of oil filters’ design. Let’s learn the significant parts of oil filters and how they function.

Tapping plate

The tapping plate serves as the entry and exit for oil filters. A look at the oil filter parts diagram will quickly reveal this part. The tapping plate comprises small holes around the edge to enable oil flow.

Anti-drain-back valve

The Anti-drain-back valve is part of the oil filter with a rubber valve and a flap. The flap prevents the oil from returning to the filter when the engine is not operating. This part is essential as it is situated between the bottom and middle of the engine. It also facilitates the free flow of oil by reducing dry friction.

Anti-syphon valve

The anti-drain-back valve is similar to the anti-siphon valve. It also prevents oil from running out of the filter when the engine isn’t turned on. They also perform similar functions.

Filter medium

The filter medium is perforated. Also, it contains polyester and glass, which are microscopic cellulose fibers and synthetic fibers. The filter medium boosts the efficiency and durability of filters. The more synthetic fibers it has, the higher its performance.


Pleats are the parts of oil filters that determine the thickness of the filter medium explained above. In addition, filters are pleated to enhance the performance of certain applications. Through pleating, filters can offer higher surface area and density without affecting the airflow.

Center steel tube

The center steel tube provides oil filters with a framework to return oil to the engine after filtration. The size, position, and number of holes dictate the speed at which the oil will flow without restriction.

Relief valve

The relief valve is also regarded as the bypass valve. That is because it relieves the engine from suffering a poor oil supply if it’s too thick to filter on a cold start. To avert that, the relief valve opens when adequate pressure is applied to force the calibration spring downward. That way, unfiltered oil flows through the top to the center tube.

End disc

This part of the oil filter is made from either metal or fiber. It serves to prevent unfiltered oil from dripping into the center tube. The end disc bonds the filter medium on each end. The end disc rests tightly in a circular manner against a locating surface of a filter housing which can result in sealing.


As this oil filter parts name implies, it retains the filter medium and the end disc firmly against the tapping plate. It is slightly metallic and acts as a leaf spring.

Frequently Asked Questions FAQs

Q: What is oil filter equipment?

An oil filter equipment is used to purify hydraulic oil, transmission oil, engine oil and greasing oil from contaminants. Car oil filter parts are primarily used for on-and-off-road internal combustion for vehicles. However, they are also used in ships and boats, powered aircraft, railway locomotives, and stationary engines like pumps and generators.

Oil filter is also installed in gas turbine and other hydraulic system engines. They ensure an efficient circulation process by eliminating contaminant that could interrupt it.

Q: What is the function of an oil filter?

Summarily, the functions of oil filters are:

  • Remove oil contaminants before it moves into the engine. As a result, the engine’s efficiency depends on the oil’s purity.
  • To prevent thick oil from entering the engine with the help of its thin perforated holes.
  • To prevent moving parts, such as the valvetrain, crankshaft, and camshafts, from damage as long as the filter works well.

Q: What are the two main types of oil filters?

There are multiple types of oil filters. However, they are further grouped into two types, which are primary and secondary.

The primary oil filter, also called a full-flow filter, can rid your entire vehicle engine of contaminants. Standard primary oil filters are full-flow oil filters, spin-on oil filters, and cartridge oil filters.

In contrast, secondary filters support the filtration process of the primary. It does that by offering additional protection to the vehicle’s engine. The common types are spinner oil filters and magnetic oil filters.

Q: What is an oil strainer in the engine?

An engine oil strainer is designed to prevent debris and other contaminants from infiltrating the engine. They perform a similar function as oil filters, except that the oil strainer removes impurities at a completely different scale.

The oil strainer in the engine is designed to capture larger contaminants than the oil filter may have missed. Oil strainers are sometimes referred to as oil filters.

Q: Which type of oil filter is best?

Asking for the best type of oil filter is a common concern for almost every oil filter finder.  It is a valid concern as the quality of a vehicle’s oil filter can either make or mar the engine operation and overall vehicle performance.

However, aside from factors like oil filter cost, other factors, materials used in production, decide which oil filter is the best. Most popular reviews put the Bosch premium oil filter as the best. Reports say that besides the brand’s reputation, the material quality guarantees 99% filtration.

In addition, the Fram oil filter offers engine protection for up to 5,000 miles. You should check out Oil Filter Cross Reference for suggestions on compatible oil filters and ratings.

Q: Can a car run without an oil filter?

While cars can run without the inner oil filter, do not do it because it can cause catastrophic engine breakdown. However, I do not mean the outside filter that you change when changing motor oil. You cannot drive without this outside filter because, without it, the engine will empty the whole motor oil in less than two minutes.

Clean oil is essential for the smooth operation of the car engine, and oil filters play a vital role in that effect. Meanwhile, without the inner oil filter, debris and other contaminants could accumulate over time, leading to engine wear and decreased performance.

Oil Filter Principles YouTube Video

Final Words

Oil filters are essential in facilitating a seamless and well-lubricated engine operation. While it has a simple design, it features different oil filter parts that work together to achieve a common goal of oil purification.

Also, a car can run without an inner oil filter. However, if the durability and efficiency of your engine matter to you, avoid doing so. But, even if you must, then run for a short time to prevent causing severe engine failure.


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