Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Does Size Make a Difference?

I recently bought an oil filter for my 2002 Tundra. It is a Bosch 72161 Premium oil filter.

I noticed that it is not as long as the filter I’m replacing, which is the Toyota brand.

Does the length of an oil filter have anything to do with its efficiency?

I would assume that a longer filter has more filter material and therefore filters the oil better than a short filter. I think the length of the filter has to do with different engine applications and clearances. Make sure the filter you have is for your particular Tundra since it comes with the 3.4 and 4.7 engines on both the 2WD and 4WD models.

Thanks missileman. I double checked and it is the correct filter for the engine. Your answer makes sense but I wonder if an inch or so more of filter really makes a measurable difference.

When all else is equal, then size does make a difference. However, all things are not always equal. The media could be different, the number of folds and the depth of the folds can make a difference. A smaller can is actually an advantage as you oil pressure will come up quicker on each start.

But a smaller can might lead to concerns about flow and cleaning efficiency. Materials are improving all the time so maybe Bosch can match the flow and efficiency in a smaller can.

When the pleated media is unfolded a short filter might have more filtering material than a long filter…But it’s hard to beat the OE filters for any brand automobile.

Size does make a difference. But it’s only the size of the media itself, after it’s unfolded and laid out straight, and even then it’s only one variable in determining what makes a filter effective.

There used to be sold on the market a “filter canister/adapter” for car engines that used rolls of toilet paper. I kid you not. If the size of the unfolded/unrolled media were the only variable, that would have been the best automobile engine filter in the world. I guarantee that an unrolled toilet paper roll contains far more square inches of surface than an unfolded oil filter element.

clearly there are other variables involved…

If you are changing your oil and filter according to the manual recommendations, don 't worry. It’s an engineering prerogative and smaller filters can be as effective and larger may not be. You have already ventured outside of OEM for a better deal. Next year, Toyota brand filters could be easily one from a different suppliers and be smaller too. It would be the least of my concern.

Are you sure the filter you removed was the specified size to start with? Especially on trucks I’ve frequently seen people upsize oil filters.

Are you sure the filter you removed was the specified size to start with? Especially on trucks I've frequently seen people upsize oil filters.

Up to now I’ve only used Toyota oil filters on my Tundra. I decided to buy a different brand just for the heck of it and then later noticed it isn’t as long as the ones I’ve used that are sold with the Toyota brand name.

I don’t think I need to worry but I just thought I’d get the thoughts of the experts here on the subject - which I appreciate very much.

After the initial break-in period, todays full-flow oil filters don’t have very much to do…There’s a lot of talk about “shavings” and “contaminants” that some feel make oil filter quality and performance critical…Today’s engines are sealed up tight. They produce few if any “shavings”. Full-flow filters (1 micron) have very limited ability to remove combustion blow-by contaminants. Rest assured the filter meets the factory’s standards and it’s length is unimportant…

My $.02: Toyota has seen fit to produce the same fitting for oil filters for multiple engines. My 4Runner uses the same connections for both the V6 and V8. The difference in filters is the length of the filter (about an inch, IIRC). The diameter is the same. Bosch knows this info, and has decided the same filter would work fine on both vehicles (check the part numbers for both). Keeping in mind the other information posted (quality of oils and manufactured engines, etc), Bosch is are most likely correct.

If it bothers you, you can use the filter from the dealer. Personally, I use the V8 filter on my V6 - and have since new (now at just over 152K) with no ill effects. Since both filters cost the same, it costs me zero more to stick with the larger filter. I’m likely not gaining anything, and I understand that. It does make me feel better, though, and to me, that’s important.


Found a size difference with the 09 Camry 3.5 liter filters from Purolator vs OEM. The Purolator has rubber ends and is a 1/2" smaller in diameter. The pleats were not as deep as the OEM or NAPA filters. I put it on any way and at the next oil change it showed signs of collapse, all scrunched up. I change the oil at 5k miles like Toyota recommends. Plus the car only had 15k original miles on it at the time. Advance Auto is close and I had already bought another Purolator, so I installed it again. Changed it out with a NAPA after 1k miles and it was already starting to collapse. Now I only use OEM or NAPA.

If the filter is the correct filter specified for the vehicle from the charts and the filter will physically fit, then there shouldn’t be a problem. The only time I ever had a problem with an filter of a different size was when I had a 14 horsepowe MTD lawn tractor with a hydrostatic transmssion. The filter recommended for the hydrrostatic unit was a Fram with a given Fram filter number. I cross-referenced the Fram filter with the house brand at Quality Farm and Fleet where I purchased the tractor. I had changed the fluid in the hydrostatic unit and was mowing the grass when the tractor ground to a stop. The replacement house brand filter was about half and inch longer than the Fram filter. Everytime I raised the deck, the support ars hit the filter. This eventually knocked a hole in the filter and I lost all the transmission fluid. This is the only experience I have ever had where the size made a difference.
On my vehicles, I buy whatever filter is listed for the vehicle that is on sale. I’ve used AC, Wicks, Purolator, and Motorcraft and have never had a problem. I’ve never paid much attention to the physical size of the filter.

The brand of filter that you buy has more to do with quality than size.

There are many good brands out there, but Fram is not one of them.

Frams are made cheaply. They use cardboard on the end caps of the filter material and it is glued on. I saw a video on YouTube by a guy who opened a new Fram filter and it had
holes in the filter material.

Weigh a Fram in your hand and compare it with other brands.
The Fram is constructed with a thinner case (and less metal, inside).

I like Motorcraft, Purolator and Bosch.

Do some research on line. It won’t take you long to come to a conclusion.

I think Ford Motorcraft filters are made by Purolator. I usually use them since right now I have two Fords and they’re cheap at Wal-Mart. On my other stuff, I usually used Purolator or NAPA Gold, which is made by Wix. NAPA Gold is pricey, so if I get them, I get them when they’re on sale. I used to get 99c coupons regularly and collect them from neighbors so I could stock up. When I was working at the shop, I often used Valvoline filters because that is what we stocked and they didn’t have a problem with me using them on my personal vehicles.