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What's the REAL difference between paper and stainless steel oil filters?


grayracer513

Paper and mesh filters take a fundamentally different approach to filtering. Mesh filters filter down to a certain size, and for practical purposes, no smaller than that. They do, however, only require a single pass to filter to that level. They work by simply having a very strictly controlled mesh size, through which a spherical object larger than that size cannot pass. They are rated in "absolute" terms, as with the Scotts (35μm "absolute"). This rating tells you that nothing larger than 35μm (35 microns) will pass through it. (1 micron, or micrometer more correctly, is 1/1,000,000 of a meter, or 0.001 mm, or 0.000039")

 

Mesh filters are able to achieve this level of filtration with remarkably low resistance to fluid flow as well, which in the case of the Scotts means that the bypass valve will not open on cold starts, and there will be no appreciable pressure loss across the filter.

 

 


ccs-3-0-81366400-1475597708.jpg
Scotts Performance Stainless Steel Oil Filter


"Paper" filters are different. They can stop even finer debris than mesh filters, but they also allow some larger debris to pass. They filter somewhat the same way a thick shrub catches objects thrown into it. Most tennis balls get stuck, but not all. An occasional golf ball gets caught, but an occasional soccer ball passes through to balance that out.

 

 

 

ccs-3-0-78366800-1475597868.png
HiFlo Filtro Paper Oil Filter


The random arrangement and density of the fibers in the element create odd and irregular gaps through which debris can pass. This creates little crotches of sorts that enable the filter to catch extremely small debris, but also creates gaps that allow it to pass ridiculously large material at other times. The paper element media is also three dimensional to a degree, whereas mesh is essentially two dimensional; if something passes through one opening in the mesh, it's through, which isn't necessarily the case with fiber media.

 


Fiber, or paper, filters can stop debris as fine as 20 microns, or even less. But, they won't stop it all on the first pass. Worse yet, they won't stop all of the debris even as large as 90 microns or more on the first pass, and some particles occasionally come free of the filter to re-enter the oil stream. They are considered multi-pass filters, which carries the expectation that the same debris will pass through the system multiple times before being intercepted. They will be given "Beta" ratings like "80/25", which tells you that it will stop 80% of all 25 micron particles on the first pass. However, they will rarely publish the fact that they may very well also test at 85/35 or 85/40, and certainly will not mention that they tested at only 95/60 (95% of 60 micron debris).

 

Additionally, paper filters resist oil flow, particularly when cold, a great deal more than does mesh, and cold starts often cause a paper filter to bypass. In the Scotts filter, a one inch square of the mesh media they use will flow 1.9 gallons of cold 90 weight gear oil per minute at only 1 psi pump pressure (70 degrees F). The YZ filter contains about 15 sq/in of mesh, which means that the media itself has the ability to flow over 28 GPM of cold 90 weight at 1 psi. The pump at the corner gas station is less than half that fast on a good day. That figure is also far beyond the delivery capabilities of the engine oil pump in any case. That basically means that unless you run half a shop rag through your engine, the Scotts filter will never bypass under any conceivable circumstance, and will filter at full capacity regardless of temperature. This is often not the case with "paper" filters, which commonly open the bypass valve during warmup operation.

 

So, it isn't a black and white, indisputable, one's better than the other kind of choice, but in my opinion, the 35 micron stainless mesh is the way to go, and Scotts makes the best example of that type of filter. Let me also point out that there is a huge difference between the medical grade stainless steel mesh used in Scotts filters and the OEM brass screen filters used in YZF's up until '03. The brass filters will filter no finer than 70-80 microns absolute, which is not nearly acceptable, IMO.

 

Paper filters are vastly preferred by race teams because stainless filters do not capture water, but paper filters do catch water. Water is the number one engine lube problem and always condenses into the oil as it cools down and from storage. The issues with water vapor condensing are much harder on an engine, than a short filter bypass in very cold weather start up conditions. Paper filters should be changed at every oil change, not because of solid debris, but because of the collected water that they absorb.

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WOW and no one has gone unto throw mode comments on this!!!???? I made mention of this years ago and was the town clown...... But it didn't stop me from using them and with superior results. The main thing is they don't restrict oil flow at start up....  Enough said.......

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@ride200mi - still the town clown (your words).  Do you have any oil analysis test?  If not, how do you know you're results are 'superior'? You do know they dont last forever and require replacement still right?

 

Ever wonder why the automotive filters are paper?  Ever had a cup of coffee/tea in a steel filter vs a paper?  Higher flow often comes at the expense of lower filtration.  Can you cite* a race team that uses SSTL? Everything i find shows even F1 cars (highest tolerances and abuse) using paper.  Also, how are you sure youre getting all of the gunk from the inside of the filter out when you clean it?  If it gets stuck in it at high pressure, how will you get it out?  Wouldnt that impede flow? I've never heard of a paper filter falling apart or dropping pieces into engines (aside from crappy FRAM) - there are stories (many) of SSTL filters falling apart. 

 

Also dont forget that not all 'paper' filters are the same... some are synthetic materials and have higher flow with the same small micron filtration. Not all filters are created equal.

 

Kind of funny that this topic usually only comes up with motorcycles... are bike riders really that much more gullible?  Do those that run SSTL in their bike run them in their car too?

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This "article" is nothing more than a Scotts advertisement . The stainless steel oil filter is a solution to a non-problem .

I agree. It also fails mention that particulates need to be cleaned, and can become entrapped, in a stainless filter. Therefore, a stainless filter is only as good as your wash job. With a paper filter, you are starting fresh each and every time. Personally, I prefer to do that.

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I run Scotts oil filters in my WRs, and used it on an XR650R as well.  I sometimes check them, and always think to myself, why did I even bother.  Lets say I change the oil about 15 times before I clean a Scotts oil filter, and even then think I wasted my time.  One thing though, I only do this because I always run a magnetic drain plug, and every other oil change I change the oil after riding the bike for 15 minutes so that the tiny stuff that gets suspended gets drained before it settles back to the bottom again. KEEP CALM, AND RIDE ON.

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Yes, this looks like an advertisement for stainless filters...

It somehow was never mentioned that one of the absolute detriments to engine lubrication is WATER. Paper filters grab the tiny droplets of water that condense inside an engine when cooling down and in storage. Stainless filters do NOT filter out water at all.

Also, with stainless filters, there is a chance of either a few drops of the cleaning solvent remaining (deadly to engine lube) or that small particles that do not wash out during cleaning can get dislodged and make a pass through the engine.

This is why racing teams in-the-know, will not use stainless filters.

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As a follow up comment...

Water is the main reason paper filters should be changed at every oil change, not because of solid debris. Bulk engine oil temps are in many cases barely above water evaporation temp of 100 deg C... and the evaporation temp of the water caught by the paper oil filter can be higher than 100 deg C due to having mixed with other liquids and is no longer, pure water...

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I'm not sure how this article can be attributed to an advertisement when the conclusion says " it isn't a black and white, indisputable, one's better than the other kind of choice"

As for my choice, I'd rather not clean anything more than I have to so paper works for me. No need to wonder if I got all of the microns of dirt out during cleaning and mkand153s point about water is the deal breaker for me. Now, who makes the best paper filter for motorcycles? 

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This "article" is nothing more than a Scotts advertisement . The stainless steel oil filter is a solution to a non-problem .

Scotts paid nothing for this piece nor had any involvement. It was however written by someone (GrayRacer) who uses their product PERSONALLY, so it was used as his basis for SS oil filters. The author received exactly zero financially for the article. It was promoted to a wiki by me from a forum post made some time ago. If it happens to cast the Scotts product in a positive light, so be it. This does not invalidate the accuracy of the information posted.

 

Regardless, thank you for your comment and opinion on the topic. The comment section exists to expand upon the subject and your opinion has been logged. :thumbsup:

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I'm not sure how this article can be attributed to an advertisement when the conclusion says " it isn't a black and white, indisputable, one's better than the other kind of choice"

As for my choice, I'd rather not clean anything more than I have to so paper works for me. No need to wonder if I got all of the microns of dirt out during cleaning and mkand153s point about water is the deal breaker for me. Now, who makes the best paper filter for motorcycles? 

 

For starters, HiFlo Filtro makes the filters for K&N, Bikemaster, and others. Not sure there are nearly as many manufacturers as there are brands. I'm pretty sure that even the OEMs don't make their filters. Wouldn't be surprised if they were HiFlo pieces.

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@ride200mi - still the town clown (your words).  Do you have any oil analysis test?  If not, how do you know you're results are 'superior'? You do know they dont last forever and require replacement still right?

 

Ever wonder why the automotive filters are paper?  Ever had a cup of coffee/tea in a steel filter vs a paper?  Higher flow often comes at the expense of lower filtration.  Can you cite* a race team that uses SSTL? Everything i find shows even F1 cars (highest tolerances and abuse) using paper.  Also, how are you sure youre getting all of the gunk from the inside of the filter out when you clean it?  If it gets stuck in it at high pressure, how will you get it out?  Wouldnt that impede flow? I've never heard of a paper filter falling apart or dropping pieces into engines (aside from crappy FRAM) - there are stories (many) of SSTL filters falling apart. 

 

Also dont forget that not all 'paper' filters are the same... some are synthetic materials and have higher flow with the same small micron filtration. Not all filters are created equal.

 

Kind of funny that this topic usually only comes up with motorcycles... are bike riders really that much more gullible?  Do those that run SSTL in their bike run them in their car too?

Race teams are not very concerned about what filter they are running.  They get a complete rebuild after every race.

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I believe that SS filters are used on military aircraft, and mostly for reasons other than stated here. Not sure why race teams run paper filters because of the slight power loss from the restriction to the oil pump. It would make sense to have both low (fiber) and high pressure (SSTL) filters strategically located.

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Just need to find a way to get one for my YZ in Australia without the $90 postage Scotts wants :(

 

email shop@thumpertalk.com for a quote.

We ship down under daily and since we ship usps international, I"m sure we can get that # down quite a bit.

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I'm not sure how this article can be attributed to an advertisement when the conclusion says " it isn't a black and white, indisputable, one's better than the other kind of choice"

As for my choice, I'd rather not clean anything more than I have to so paper works for me. No need to wonder if I got all of the microns of dirt out during cleaning and mkand153s point about water is the deal breaker for me. Now, who makes the best paper filter for motorcycles? 

 

I bolded that in the article, so that the point isn't missed. :thumbsup: Thank you for reading the piece fully. ;)

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I'm not sure how this article can be attributed to an advertisement when the conclusion says " it isn't a black and white, indisputable, one's better than the other kind of choice"

As for my choice, I'd rather not clean anything more than I have to so paper works for me. No need to wonder if I got all of the microns of dirt out during cleaning and mkand153s point about water is the deal breaker for me. Now, who makes the best paper filter for motorcycles? 

 

Its full of inaccurate statements.  No sources for the 'facts' aside from pointing to Scotts.

 

The only advantage to SSTL is you dont have to have a new filter on hand, or be sure that the store's are open to pick one up.  Frankly its someone creating a problem that never existed...

 

 

Race teams are not very concerned about what filter they are running.  They get a complete rebuild after every race.

 

Not always true.  Also remember that races arent one lap, even at that, some laps are MASSIVE (Think Nürburgring).  Engines have to make it to the next rebuild.  If youre oil filter fails (lets particles through, or even complete fall apart) then you are out of the race and the engine rebuild would be even more expensive.  Just because they rebuild or drop new engines in periodically, doesnt mean that they dont care about keeping it in top performing condition at all times.

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...full of inaccurate statements...

I must have missed your source citations as well...

 

In 2010 I had a customer ask me to install a 35 micron stainless filter at her first oil change on her first new bike.  I have serviced her Road King off and on since then.  Many other shops across the country have serviced it as well.  I have no idea if/how they clean that filter.  The last service was at 155,000+ miles. I consider her bike a pretty good test.

 

To be fair, her bike may have lasted just as long without any filter but we'll never know.

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I must have missed your source citations as well...

 

In 2010 I had a customer ask me to install a 35 micron stainless filter at her first oil change on her first new bike.  I have serviced her Road King off and on since then.  Many other shops across the country have serviced it as well.  I have no idea if/how they clean that filter.  The last service was at 155,000+ miles. I consider her bike a pretty good test.

 

To be fair, her bike may have lasted just as long without any filter but we'll never know.

 

And did you do oil analysis?  Magnetic Particle inspection of any parts?  What non-anecdotal evidence do you have?  One case of a non-failure does not mean a success or proof of concept.

 

The reason Im not citing my sources is because most of my posts are questions - not statements.  If you want them, go to 'Bobistheoilguy" those guys are OCD about oil.  I wont cherry pick citations, there are plenty out there of failing FRAM and SSTL filters, as well as a LACK of evidence that they are used in any extreme/sever conditions.

 

Will a SSTL filter hurt an engine?  Not likely unless it falls apart.  Is it as good as paper?  Not unless there is some new radical development.

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There are no stainless steel filter options--to my knowledge--for my AMG.  I assume its for a reason other than "to sell more parts."  Even if there was one, I don't think I would invest in the time and solvents necessary to adaquately clean one. 

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The advantage to running a Scotts SS Filter is economics.  After about 8 or 9 oil changes, the Scotts pays for them selves. I haven ran these filters on my 09 DRZ400SM, 08KTMSXF250, 09KTMXCF450, and my current 2015CRF250L with a 305BB kit.  NEVER had an engine failure due to running Scotts SS filters.  Point is, if you plan on keeping a ride for a long time, invest in one of these, they save money on oil changes in the long run.

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...Magnetic Particle inspection of any parts...

 

...my posts are questions - not statements...

 

...Is it as good as paper?  Not unless there is some new radical development.

I'm still waiting for your list of inaccuracies...

 

Tell me how an MPI would tell you anything about the type of wear a substandard oil filter would produce in an engine.  I'm a 22 year welder that has stood beside many an NDT test, including MPI, on my work and can assure you this is another subject you need not comment on.

 

I checked again and don't see a question mark anywhere in your "questons" above.

 

You stated, not asked whether or not, (right up there ^^^) that the stainless isn't as good as the paper yet you provide nothing to support this.  Stop acting as though you know anything about this product and its capabilities.  If you don't like the filters don't use them but don't throw out jibberish directed toward the author and others about a product you have likely have no experience with.

 

So, don't use it if you don't like it but don't bad mouth it without facts.

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