Piston Slap: A clearer Focus on oil filters

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Owen writes:

Hello! I am wondering if you can please give me a plain and simple answer to a question I have regarding oil filters for my 2005 Ford Focus (2.0-liter Duratec engine)? I have searched various forums on this point for hours and never come up with a clear definitive answer. The manual states it takes a Motorcraft FL 910. A good friend of mine who is a retired auto mechanic had three different Focus models (2003, 2005, 2007) over the years and has now disposed of the last one. He recently gave me eight new FL 2005 filters and four PH 8316—the Fram equivalent of the FL 2005. I believe one or more of his Focus models had a Zetec engine. So can I use the FL 2005 on my car?

I have studied the specs on these and see they are practically identical, apart from the FL 2005 being roughly an inch and a half longer in length, and the bypass-valve setting being 14 versus 12 on the FL 910. I understand the higher bypass-valve setting is a good thing? My gut feeling is to go with the FL 2005, as the longer length is not a problem and a bigger filter is better than a smaller one—but I yield to the expert’s opinion here. I bought this car new and it now has 140,000 miles on the clock. Mine is a station wagon model. It still runs as good as new and the body hasn’t got a mark on it, as I always get it rust sprayed annually.

I sure would appreciate your help here! Thanks so much.

Sajeev answers:

There’s nothing that gets the Car Internet World firing on all cylinders like a discussion about oil and oil filtration. But the plain and simple answer is yes, you can use a FL 2005 filter on Ford that normally runs the FL-910.

The extra 2 psi of pressure needed to activate the FL 2005 bypass valve is marginal, while the extra volume of filtration material (i.e. it’s bigger) is never a bad thing. And who knows, maybe the extra pressure is needed because of a different internal pleat design and/or the added volume? That said, I wouldn’t pay extra for the larger filter, as the FL 2005 list price is $8.87, while the FL 910 is $6.82. But getting them for free? Do it.

No matter. Space constraints shouldn’t be a concern, so this is a case of cat logic: If it fits, I sits. (But in this case, the “it” is an engine and “I” is an oil filter, not a cat.) This seems like a good time to remind everyone that not all oil filters are created equal. As this study shows, cheaper filter brands can be inferior to more expensive ones. Which doesn’t necessarily mean you should buy the most expensive brands, and in this case your Focus will be served best with Motorcraft filters: The price is fair and they have OEM-tested performance.

But hey, go ahead and use those free PH 8316 filters too. No need to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Have a question you’d like answered on Piston Slap? Send your queries to pistonslap@hagerty.com, and give us as much detail as possible so we can help! If you need an expedited resolution, make a post on the Hagerty Community!

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