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Are OEM Toyota Oil Filters Better Than Aftermarket?

When it comes to oil filters, quality is very important. Even though oil filters are designed to be changed on a regular basis, a cheaply built one has a high likelihood of clogging up between changes. When that happens, dirty oil circulates through your engine and wears out the engine components faster.

As someone looking for a replacement oil filter, you have two options: OEM or aftermarket. OEM oil filters are exact replicas made by either Toyota or the company Toyota hired to manufacture the oil filter in the first place. Aftermarket oil filters are designed and manufactured by third parties not affiliated with Toyota.

Let’s take a look at the 3 most important factors to consider while shopping for a replacement oil filter. That way, we can determine which type of oil filter better suits your needs.

1. Filter Housing Quality and Construction

Oil filter oem

The oil filter is such a simple part that you would think that there isn't really a way the aftermarket manufacturer could screw it up. But, they can. Trying to save a few pennies can cause some problems down the road. Here are a couple issues that show up in cheaply made oil filters:

  • The filter housing is made of the thinnest metal possible. This isn't a problem when the filter goes on. But, when it is time to take it off, a too-thin filter housing will deform and crush. You can still get it off, but it turns into a much messier, more time consuming project.
  • The oil filter gasket material is low quality. This also isn't a problem when the filter is installed. But, the oil filter is subject to a lot of heating and cooling cycles. A cheap gasket can get brittle and crack, causing a leak.

You can count on the fact that the housing on all OEM oil filters is properly sealed and solidly built. You can’t get the same guarantee with aftermarket oil filters. The design and construction of the oil filter are left to the aftermarket manufacturer’s discretion.

2. Pleated Filter Quality

The pleated filter plays a big role in how long the filter lasts. It’s solely responsible for trapping the debris in the oil. That’s why quality matters a lot. You want a pleated filter that has:

  • Uniform filter media
  • Even pleat openings
  • A thick, high-quality filter material

Toyota makes sure that the pleated filter in its oil filters meets all of the criteria listed above in order to not clog up between oil changes. Also, an OEM oil filter made for your Toyota model is designed specifically to work with the required type of oil to use in your car.

When it comes to aftermarket oil filters, the quality of the pleated filter isn’t guaranteed. It’s hard, if not downright impossible, to tell the quality of the pleated filter while shopping for an aftermarket filter. If the quality of the pleated filter is important to you (as it should be), then we strongly suggest playing it safe and getting something you know is a quality product: an OEM oil filter.

3. Design

Boxed filter

Image Credit: Juni S.

For optimal performance, you want an oil filter that’s designed just for your Toyota. When Toyota designs an oil filter, they consider:

  • The engine's oil capacity
  • The engine's typical operating RPM range
  • The type of oil the engine uses
  • The desired oil change interval

Because Toyota warranties your engine, it's very important to them that they design a high quality filter that won't clog up between oil changes, and will properly filter the oil.

Aftermarket oil filters? Not so much. It’s common for aftermarket manufacturers to use a universal design for their oil filters. They don't warranty your engine, and they really don't care how well their filter works in your vehicle.

OEM Oil Filters Don’t Have to be Expensive

Since oil filters are frequently changed, many car owners shy away from OEM oil filters and install aftermarket oil filters instead. Even though OEM oil filters can be pretty expensive (especially at Toyota dealerships that like to mark up their prices), it's not always the case.

You can find a pretty great deal on OEM oil filters online. For example, we sell genuine OEM Toyota parts (including oil filters) at wholesale prices. OEM oil filters at aftermarket prices (or cheaper)? It can’t get any better than that!

Written by Jason Lancaster