This has been a long debated topic so here is my .02…
When a filter is opened it just might make you question what the hell you are doing using that filter. There is definitely a difference in filters and you do get more when you pay more. Some features seem to be over-kill but you understand why they use them. I.E. coil spring versus stamped spring steel or 93 square inches of filter material versus 53 square inches or silicone anti-drain seals versus rubber. There is also common sense… like the anti-drain back doesn’t mean anything on a stock Pontiac V8 as the filter is not upside down or horizontal (opening facing down or horizontally).
After two of the Fram “open element” filters (no metal can) failing on my 01 Saturn I decided to look into filters further. One thing I found with the open filter types is Fram , K&N etc are the exact same… This is different than the “canned” versions where K&N definitely seem “better” that the lower priced models.
Putting some faith into the manufacturer’s specs and watching some very detailed testing videos on Youboob.com you have t make an edumacated decision and hope you get it right.
I’m using these criteria to pick a filter:
( there are always trade-offs) assuming higher flow means less filtering of small particles although as it clogs up it helps filter smaller and smaller particles like a furnace filter. Flow rate is also higher in general as newer cars require thinner and thinner oil viscosities.
K&N one of the higher rates based on media type.
Filter media surface area
(longer strip = more pleats more filtering)
K&N blew away competition at 93 versus 53 for most. I suspect this is because of the higher flow rate above they increased “inchage” to compensate?
Construction – steel bits versus xxx bits
FRAM has the only cardboard based end caps I saw. Vast majority have steel end caps and inner tubes – cheaper filters have plastic.
Media type - Synthetic versus xxx
I think this is a toss-up but how they secure the two ends does matter. K&N uses/used steel clamps where most use glue. The steel in my opinion is better as it can’t be a weak spot – this is where the two filters above failed. The least at the joint buckled.
Media application – mesh backing etc
ONE filter used mesh backing in the filter and it was really expensive compared to even the moderately priced units. Not sure this is such a big help. Maybe if you are running extremely high oil pressures.
Application – low or high pressure
I’m a stock pressure guy so this eliminates the high pressure application racing filters which are out of my cost/make sense range any way.
I’m using Full Synthetic but these days I don’t think this matters much as most modern engines/cars require synthetic.
Better/higher flow rates may enable use of things like a thick Oil Stabilizer.
One can go crazy and spend $25 a filter but using common sense brings me into the $8-12 range of filters.
I said all that to say this... I will try the K&N filter after looking at Bosh, FRAM, NAPA, AMSOIL, WIX etc etc etc.... thing is a lot of these are just like DVD players - one manufacturer makes a bunch of them and just puts a different wrapper on it. K&N seems to be a unique filter and it's actually available cheaper than most of the others, with some inter-web digging.
Time will tell if I made the right decision... hopefully it doesn't end up as an expensive lesson.