Auto Service World
Feature   March 1, 2011   by Nestor Gula

Quality filters bring a peace of mind

Resist the temptation of offering cut-price filters

When times are tough it is sometimes tempting to cut a few corners to make a few bucks – or pennies. The few bucks or cents you shave here might also lead you to lose a lot more down the line.
Take for example the simple oil change. Competition has driven the price of this essential service so low that you probably think it’s not really worth to perform them without doing other work on the car. The temptation is that you can make a quick buck or two by substituting a no-name filter for a proper OEM spec one.
There are many reasons not to do this. “Off-shore, no-name parts do not usually have the consistency in quality and delivery needed over time,” said Bruce Coffey, technical service manager at WIX Filtration Products. “A shop’s reputation can be questioned if using very generic, inconsistent parts. Knowing how this affects the bottom line can be tricky.
“It often seems, by purchasing less expensive parts savings are generated right away. But in the long run, missed sales and catering to the lowest common denominator will erode the bottom line over time.”
“A potential customer would be more comfortable seeing name brand products on the shelf and perhaps be more likely to do business with a shop like that,” said Susan Storey, product manager – customer care & aftersales for General Motors of Canada Ltd. “Name brand filters usually are familiar with OEM requirements and their filters meet those needs. In the event an issue occurs with a named brand filter, they will usually assist in resolving the issue.”
Use of filters from questionable sources can cause problems down the line. “Problems vary from premature engine wear to complete engine failure. You can end up with unpaid engine claims from some of these suppliers. ACDelco requires media that meets or exceeds the original filter put on at the engine plant. No-name brand filters have no obligation to meet or exceed those performance requirements.”
“WIX uses filter media that is a blend of cellulose and glass fibres that are structurally bound by a phenolic resin to provide moisture resistance. No-name brands do not include glass fibres or a phenolic resin due to the expense of these items,” said Coffey.
“The no-name filters do not have as much moisture resistance as a result. This can often be seen in used oil filters as wavy pleats.”
He also added that while the no-name filters will have some similar components that a quality filter has “the quality and performance characteristics of those parts, however, are not the same. Some filters can cause ‘leak-down’ of the oil in the engine while the vehicle is not in use (overnight). This can cause ‘dry-starts’ which increase engine wear.”
With long interval oils now on many cars it is crucial to install a high quality OEM spec or higher oil filter during an oil change. These filters must survive intervals of 15,000 miles (25,000 kilometers) as some auto manufacturers specify.
“Engine technology is much cleaner, so if the correct media is used the filters can last much longer in the vehicle than they used to,” said Storey.
Placing the proper spec filter is very important echoed Coffey. “It is difficult for a filter to survive the longer oil change intervals. Typically what are affected most are the rubber components and the filter media.”
Like most shop owners know, there is no substitute for quality tools and parts. “It is good practice to use quality parts, equal to or better than OE, on anything you intend on keeping for a long time. Name brand helps link your good business name with another quality name,” said WIX’s Coffey. “A shop’s recognition can be helped by using a well-known and well established name brand.”