THE ULTIMATE OIL FILTER
by Mark DeSantis
Automotive experts agree that dirt is the number one cause of engine wear. At first glance, it does not seem possible. Engine dirt particles are so small - mere dust specks - and an engine is a highly sophisticated piece of machinery, crafted from the most durable metal alloys. How can these minute particles bring down such a high-tech giant? The answer lies in the fact that dirt particles are extremely abrasive. They consist of razor-like flakes of road dust and airborne grit drawn into the engine through the air intake, as well as manufacturing scarf and wear metal particles generated inside the engine. These particles are carried by the oil into the precision clearances between bearings and other moving parts. Once they work in between these parts, they grind and gouge surfaces, altering clearances, and generating more abrasive debris. As this wear cycle continues, precision components become progressively sloppy and fatigued, until they fail altogether. In addition to physically assaulting engine components, dirt and other contaminants work to degrade the oil that provides vital engine lubrication. Sooty carbon particles generated during combustion can be forced past piston rings and into the oil. These particles by their very nature act like tiny sponges, absorbing critical additives, thus shortening oil life. Soot also wreaks havoc with viscosity by causing oil to thicken. And in the presence of moisture, common by-products of combustion will react chemically to produce corrosive and rust-producing acids. Because the typical spin on full-flow oil filter is designed directly in the line of oil circulation, it must filter oil quickly in order to keep from starving the engine of oil. This means that only the
larger particles of dirt can be filtered out of the oil since finer, slower filtration would cause a "bottleneck" in circulation at the filter. In cold weather, unfiltered oil is shunted pass the relief valve to keep up with engine demand.
Unfortunately, the smallest particles of dirt between 5 to 20- micron in size are also some of the most damaging inside an engine. Experiments show that over 60% of all engine wear is caused by particles too small to be filtered by commonplace oil filters. Standard spin on oil filters remove particles around 20 microns. A-C type filters are 17% efficient at 15 micron particle size. This means that particles below 20 microns still remain in circulation. These particles are small enough to enter the spaces between bearings, rings, etc., but are too large to "float" harmlessly between the metal surfaces in the film of oil. Instead, like a sharp pebble inside a shoe, the particles gouge and dig into the surfaces, leaving them slashed and battered. So what can be done? The answer is the simple addition of a spin on by-pass filter. Unlike a full-flow filter, a by-pass filter is situated outside the main line of oil circulation. The by-pass filter taps off the area where the main line is fitted with the oil pressure switch, bleeding off and cleaning only a portion of the oil at one time. This means the by-pass filter can retain the oil longer and do a thorough job of removing contaminants without the worry of obstructing oil circulation. Certain by-pass filters, such as those from AMSOIL Inc., can remove particles smaller than " 1 micron" and will even remove destructive water from the oil, helping to prevent rust and corrosion inside your engine. It will filter all the oil in a six quart system in about 5 minutes at an engine speed equivalent to 45mph.
By cleaning the oil so completely, by-pass oil filters increase not only engine life, but also the life of the oil itself. With by-pass oil filtration, the service life of the oil can be extended well beyond "normal" depending upon the quality of oil and the conditions and severity of use. When using a synthetic motor oil, 25,000 mile drain intervals are common place. I know this will alarm most of you but remember that the additive package in the oil is not depleted as fast, keeping the anti-oxidative and anti-wear additives intact. The 100% synthetic oil in my 375hp SS-396 is well over 2 years old, and well above 25,000 miles. Sounds a little crazy, but I guarantee you my oil is cleaner than someone who just changed their petroleum oil yesterday.
The AMSOIL spin-on by pass filter taps into the oil pressure sending unit by a T-fitting and oil is then returned to a valve cover or the oil pan. The oil circulates to a larger than standard size filter can loaded with a non paper type of filtration material. The by-pass filter also adds an extra quart of oil to the present capacity. While using by-pass oil filters, the best way to determine the serviceability of your motor oil is by having the oil analyzed. An oil analysis allows you to monitor the condition of your motor oil, determine its protective capabilities, and decide from this information whether an oil change is necessary. Most companies that offer oil analysis keep records of the metals used in manufacturing the engine block, pistons, valves and camshaft etc. By examining a spectrum of the metals in your oil, an oil analysis will tell you what parts are wearing away first. This technique is quite popular in the heavy trucking industries.