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Mazda 3 Oil Filter Conversion

I have a 2005 Mazda 3s with the 2.3l engine. It uses a ‘cartridge’ filter rather than the standard spin-on type. Changing the cartridge is messy plus it is in a plastic cover that can crack and leak oil. Several M3 2.3 owners suggest installing a conversion kit to switch to a conventional filter used on the Mazda 3 2.0l engine. A local dealer sells the kit but it is not actually from Mazda. What do you think? Will the filter for the 2.0l engine meet the oil needs of the 2.3? Thanks

Changing a cartridge filter is no more messy than changing a standard type filter. Also the plastic will not crack or be otherwise damaged unless it is improperly handled. I assume you do your own oil changes since you are concerned with what type of oil filter your car has on it. If you use the proper socket to open and close the cartridge holder, and don’t over tighten, you won’t ever have a problem with it. Save your money for eventual repairs.

The question I have is: Is the move to cartridge oil filters at the behest of the EPA to reduce the enviornmental hazard of oil filled conventional can filters going to land fills? Is there a mechanical or longevity advantage to using the cartridge over the can filter?

One advantage I can see of the cartridge is that you can inspect the element to spot any chronic engine problems before they become critical and cause an engine failure.

The current conversion to cartridge filters no doubt has advantages regarding reduced material usage as well as reduced manufacturing cost. When engine oil filters appeared (my college student type car, a 1947 Chevrolet had one), they were cartridges. Later the spin-on filters appeared. They were faster and easier to change, a convenience for mechanics and the material cost increase was probably considered minor and the environmental waste and natural resource usage concerns were not in anyone’s mind.

Researcher, you can very easily open a spin-on filter with a hammer and a cold chisel, applying the cut adjacent to the thick metal end cap in order to inspect the filtration element. A cold chisel will not interfere with your inspection with unintended metallic debris. I can have a disposable spin-on filter housing open in less than a minute. Open it on a few layers of newspaper to contain the small mess.

Do you know for a fact that the original equipment cartridge filter can crack or leak oil? If this is your lay person engineering judgement working overtime or hearsay from others, just relax and put your faith in those who professionally design filters. If you are correct and I am wrong, you can be sure that improvements in the filter design will be forthcoming.

Regarding the alternate filter, I would want to at least measure the filtration areas to compare. Even that might not be conclusive as filtering media can have different degrees of porosity.

" What do you think? Will the filter for the 2.0l engine meet the oil needs of the 2.3? Thanks"

The conversion should work just fine…

Thanks all for the good feedback. I’ve done a variety of oil changes over 40 years of car maintenance from V-dubs, Corvairs and Sunbeams to today’s iron. I’m getting ready for the first oil change on this recently purchased used Mazda and I’ll give the cartridge a try for now and consider a switch to the spin-on next time.

In a related question, our Mazda 3, 2.3 just lost 3.5 quarts of oil when the ‘cartridge’ apparently broke. My oldest child drives the car and didnt notice anything until the oil and check engine lights came on. Luckily, we towed it to a dealer and they discovered it only had 1.5 quarts…and was close to siezing. No obvious leaks anywhere…the only damp spots were on the skid plate. The dealer changed the cartridge, refilled the oil and it appears to be saved. Any recommendations?

My wifes lexus ES350 has this cartridge filter. I don’t find it much more difficult to change then a canister filter. It’s far easier then the canister filter on her 4-cylinder Accords…mainly because of location.

Drive on, but monitor the oil level closely for the next couple of months. If you don’t hear any new noises coming from the engine and the oil useage hasn’t increased then you caught the low oil condition before significant engine damage occured.

If you convert it to a spin-on,you will void the powertrain warranty (I work for a mazda dealer)