So assume my oil filter media is torn...

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530
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Atlanta, GA
...in my current oil filter. Also assume that as part of my oil and filter changing regimen I take a sample during the change and sent it off to the lab for analysis. What kind of negative impact will the filter media tear have on my test results? Higher wear metals? I can't think of anything else but I'm curious what the media-tear alarmists think. If the answer is higher wear metals, how much higher are we talking? i.e. going from 10ppm to 100 or 10ppm to 15? I am really curious about this because a) I have been using strictly Purolator filters (mostly PureOnes) for the last few years and b) all of my UOAs have come back pretty good in the wear metals department. So I am wondering: if my current filter's media is torn, what will I see later this month when I perform my Taurus's oil/filter change and UOA?
 

Pajamarama

Thread starter
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Originally Posted By: NMBurb02
I'd look for elevated insolubles.
OK makes sense. Luckily all my reports have had low insolubles as well.
 
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Doubtful that you'd see any laboratory difference. I'll say this: Let's just say you had 10 engines that had perfect media and 10 engines that had a small area of torn media, similar to what the majority of the Purolator photos have been posted on this forum. I don't think that you could accurately predict that the oil with torn media will test any worse than the engines with perfect oil filters. Now of course, nobody wants to buy or use an oil filter with torn media, but in the case of the Purolator filters that suffer small areas of torn media, I'm betting that the lab tests will not differ or at least you can not take the 20 samples and positively say what oil test came from what filter. So far, I've not seen any such test results here, not even from any poster who claims to be a filter or hydraulic expert.
 
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^^^ Could be, but not a good enough reason for 97% of the people to still continue using filters where the media could tear open and continually let unfiltered oil through.
 

dnewton3

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I'd say you'll see very little, if any, difference, and what possible wear that may be induced would be well within "normal" variance, which means you'd never detect it. Please do remember that as your OCI ages past 3k miles, wear rates continue to drop, and can approach nearly zero. Once the tribochemcial barrier is firmly in place, there is practially no wear at all. Therefore a tear in the media would only be of significance if there were an introduction of large particulate causing gouging of a bearing surface, for example. Torn media will not cause wear. It would only allow for wear to occur if some unexpected event were to happen. A major event would likely shed enough metal(s) in various sizes that it could show up on a UOA. But if your engine is in good shape, that event is very unlikely to happen, and therefore the lack of wear from normal use will never reveal a condition of torn media, because the wear is practically zilch as the OCI ages.
 
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What a refreshing post. I actually felt more relaxed after reading it.
Originally Posted By: dnewton3
I'd say you'll see very little, if any, difference, and what possible wear that may be induced would be well within "normal" variance, which means you'd never detect it. Please do remember that as your OCI ages past 3k miles, wear rates continue to drop, and can approach nearly zero. Once the tribochemcial barrier is firmly in place, there is practially no wear at all. Therefore a tear in the media would only be of significance if there were an introduction of large particulate causing gouging of a bearing surface, for example. Torn media will not cause wear. It would only allow for wear to occur if some unexpected event were to happen. A major event would likely shed enough metal(s) in various sizes that it could show up on a UOA. But if your engine is in good shape, that event is very unlikely to happen, and therefore the lack of wear from normal use will never reveal a condition of torn media, because the wear is practically zilch as the OCI ages.
 
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I would doubt you will see any difference. Each pass through the filter will now filter 99.9% of the oil vs 100%. So each day you are driving instead of filtering all the oil 10000 times you are now filtering all the oil 9999 times. (These numbers are just to make my point).
 
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In my opinion, the others are correct in that one will not see any difference. However; it is the principal of the idea, that if it is OK, then the manufactures won't correct it. GM is finding out the hard way that the "it won't make much difference" had become a corporate culture. JMO.. Ed
 
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I have to admit that I don't understand the defense of filter media tears. I thought that there would be general agreement that a filter that doesn't have big holes in it would be better than one that does. Folks who don't want to use torn filters are called "paranoid" or "whiners", but hating Fram filters because of their non-metallic end caps is sensible? I agree with dnewton3 that a torn filter, by itself, will not cause wear. In fact, I think that that statement qualifies as a truism. Unless, of course, any bits of the filter that are released by the tear enter the oil passages and do whatever nastiness little bits of filter do. But isn't the point of a full-flow oil filter to filter the oil? Sure, it doesn't always filter all of the oil, since there may be occasional bypass events and so on, but why would it be OK to have a continuous bypass event? As dnewton3 also points out, if a large piece of something were to get through the tear/hole, then some damage could be done. OK, we don't expect a 500 micron chunk of something to be circulating through our oil passages, but shouldn't a filter catch it if this unexpected event does happen? If something big enough to score a bearing gets through, and does just that, you are most likely not going to know it anytime soon. But if that makes it OK, let's just use a coarse screen like an air-cooled VW.
 
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Originally Posted By: Stelth
I have to admit that I don't understand the defense of filter media tears. I thought that there would be general agreement that a filter that doesn't have big holes in it would be better than one that does. Folks who don't want to use torn filters are called "paranoid" or "whiners", but hating Fram filters because of their non-metallic end caps is sensible?
I don't understand it either. An "alarmist" would be Chicken Little claiming the sky is falling. People with a problem with tearing filters when they are indeed tearing are not alarmists. Whether or not that is important to you is another matter. Anyway I would not expect any difference in a UOA except for perhaps a tiny rise in the insoluble count.
 

dnewton3

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We need to keep in mind that the efficiency of a filter has nothing to do with occurence of contamination. Read that again, carefully, and pick your jaw up off the floor. Do NOT flame me just yet; I beg of you to resist hitting the reply button and read on. There is a difference between occurence rates of contamination and the ability of a filter to catch particulate. Really efficient filters are "better" at reducing contamination moreso than a moderate filter; we'd all agree. But that efficiency of the filter does NOT speak to how much contamination is present upstream in the system as a whole. It's a math game ... it's about OCCURENCE versus REMOVAL. Filters do NOTHING to induce or promote contamination; they only remove it. So they can do nothing but act upon what may or may not be present. They cannot generate it. 99.0% of 1000 particles is 990 particles caught and 10 particles passed. 95.0% of 100 particles is 95 particles caught and only 5 passed. The more efficient filter passed more particles, because the overall level on contamination was greater in the first example. Yes - for any given system, the higher eff filter would remove more. But if your system has very little contamination to begin with, then the overal total magnitude of contamination will be low REGARDLESS of which filter you choose. This is why I believe that using premium filters never really manifests into shifts in wear data in UOAs. Today's engines run so clean, and are sealed up well, and with excellent lubes, there just is very little contamination present in the first place. Contamination comes from three general sources: 1) ingestion via the air tract 2) generation from soot loading 3) component contact In the first concern, as long as your air filter ALSO does not have a tear in it, this really won't change much of anything relative to the rate that dirt ingested into the oil. In the second concern, soot starts out sub-micron in size, and the anti-agglomerates help keep it small. A typical full flow filter would hopefully never, ever see a soot-ball so large that it could actually be caught with any regularity; if your soot is co-joining this big, then you're WAY past the sensible OCI range in the first place. As long as soot stays 5um and smaller, it's really not of much consequence. This is why oil can look really dark (nearly coal black) and yet you get no appreciable wear, even as the miles pack on. As long as the add-pack is not overwhelmed, the soot in being controlled not by the filter, but by the oil! And engines are so effeicient now, that soot production (which is a byproduct of incomplete hydrocarbon combustion) is very small contrasted to cars of yester-year. I'm not saying it does not exist; I'm saying it's in lower quantites and smaller sizes than ever before. In the third concern, the tribochemical barrier prevents this. Now, go back to what I preach about the tribochemical barrier; it's generally fully developed at 3k miles and wear is practically nothing by then. And since we have no idea WHEN the tear occurs (during manufacture, during installation, after installtion, after 10 minutes of use, after 1k miles, after 5k miles .....) then we'll NEVER know just how much wear may or may not occur during the onset of the OCI. And since we know wear DOES naturally escalate at the front end of an OCI because the TB barrier is removed due to the detergents, then how in the world does one expect to see tiny evidence of wear subsequent to a tear anyway?????? I get it; we all want a perfect system. But the overall quality of lubes and engines has made the filter a bit more of a back-seat player in the regard. It's important, to be sure, but it's not a all-or-nothing event we're talking about here. Is torn media desirable? Absolutely not. Is torn media an assurance of grossly escalated engine wear? Probably not. I'm of the opinon that the air filter has MUCH more to do with wear as far as ingestion can have effect. A torn air filter (or a sloppy install job) would be of more concern to me than a torn oil filter.
 
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Originally Posted By: dnewton3
We need to keep in mind that the efficiency of a filter has nothing to do with occurence of contamination.
Its simple: Environmental air WITH DUST ingested through the air filter is unavoidable. Those particles are from sub-micron to around 100 microns. Air filters don't remove it all. Some gets through. Of course its worse in a dusty environment. Of that air intake system dust, some makes it past the rings and into the oil. If you're running a cheap oil filter, that same dust in the range of up to 30 microns will continuously run in your bearings, hit cam lobes, & any surfaces. If you have something like a Fram Ultra, which is 80% efficient down to 5 microns in multi-pass tests, more of the stuff up to 30 microns get removed.
Originally Posted By: dnewton3
Contamination comes from three general sources: 1) ingestion via the air tract 2) generation from soot loading 3) component contact In the first concern, as long as your air filter ALSO does not have a tear in it, this really won't change much of anything relative to the rate that dirt ingested into the oil.
Again, you need to realize air filters don't catch all the particles. Sure a tear or bad seal makes it worse. Still remember an air filter isn't perfect even when intact & sealing. Given all the environmental dust out there (deserts & dirt roads worst), plenty can get in. Any outdoor environment has dust. Therefore, it can be concluded that a torn filter will make the situation worse, decreasing the filtering efficiency of the oil filter and allowing the inevitable air-intake system dust particles to circulate more. Once this starts, a cascading effect of particle/wear causing more particles/wear is initialized. On the flip side, a higher efficiency intact oil filter will remove more unavoidably ingested particles. As dnewoton3 pointed out, a torn or bad sealing air filter can increase particle ingestion. The last line of defense is the oil filter meaning tears and efficiency matters.
 
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Lots of good information in this thread regarding how much difference in wear may be seen as a result if a tear. And a corresponding tear, no tear UOA comparison anecdote, confirming the information for reference purposes. As an aside I prefer the posts that separate the actual amount of wear as a result of a tear, from the actual tear issue itself. Didn't read anyone say a tear was a good thing, some are just better able to separate that from the amount of wear caused by the tear, which is the OP's question.
 
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Don't people spend a lot of money on bypass oil filtering systems. couldn't this be thought of as the poor man's version?
 
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