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The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 180 million used oil filters are generated each year by "do-it-yourselfers". Residual oil remaining in automotive oil filters disposed by do-it-yourselfers is considerably greater than previously thought. The estimated range is 10-11 ounces per filter on average, compared to ranges of 3.5-8 ounces and 2-8 ounces commonly cited."

One pint of oil on surface water can produce a slick nearly one acre in size; one gallon can ruin 1 million gallons of drinking water -- a one year's supply for 50 people. Used motor oil can contain toxic substances such as benzene, lead, zinc, and cadmium, which could be removed in the recycling process.

Studies estimate that in California alone "23.9 million filters containing 2.09 million gallons of residual oil were disposed improperly by do-it-yourselfers in 2003-04. Only 85,852 gallons of residual oil were potentially recovered via proper disposal of used filters."

Recycling 1 ton of used oil filters recovers 1,700 pounds of steel and up to 60 gallons of used oil. The Filter Manufacturers Council estimates approximately 200,000 tons of steel would be recovered if all the filters sold in the United States annually were recycled.

Tighter implementation of oil filter disposal regulations are expected as it becomes more common to separate household wastes by material for recycling. This will reinforce the industry trend towards recyclable metal-free elements, and may see the growth in retrofitting services to replace spin-on filters in older vehicles without integrated housing oil filters.

Oil can be recovered from spin-on filters using special oil filter presses which squeeze out the oil and the remaining flattened metal filter can be recycled with other steel. Oil filter crushers are available for use on site at garages, although this is currently not common practice. Nevertheless, it is hoped that oil filter crushers will be increasingly introduced into civic amenity sites as an added service to the DIY car mechanic.

The attitude toward difficult-to-dispose wastes seems clear: If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Manufacturers of spin-on oil filters have been considered part of the problem.

The real reason for cartridge filters is that they are better for the environment, and yes they are less convenient to change. Like anything else in life, the prettiest flowers are always the farthest from the path.
 

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I disagree that the cartridge filter is any less convenient to change, just "different".

In any case when doing a change to a spin-on filter car (my wifes car and all my previous cars) I'm pretty crazy about draining the oil from the filter, I'll drain it overnight then literally stuff a couple paper towels into it before I toss it. With a cartridge in 20 minutes the filter is as empty as it's going to get.

Besides having the filter drain easier & faster there are other environmental type reasons why the cartridge is better, it requires less material (contains no steel and less other materials), requires less energy to produce and being lighter, requires less energy to transport.

Beyond that, you can inspect it at every oil change much easier (practially impossible with a spin-on, and it's a bit cheaper.
 

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[quote author=raitchison link=topic=69148.msg1198896#msg1198896 date=1171090828]
I disagree that the cartridge filter is any less convenient to change, just "different".

[/quote]

Clearly a cartridge filter is more messy than a spin-on to service, and easier for the ham-fisted to screw up, but if properly installed, also less likely to leak.

While cartridges are significantly cheaper to manufacture the consumer doesn't see this advantage because there is significantly less competition for cartridges compared with spin-ons. I am only aware of one company in India that makes replacement cartridge filters for the 3. Incidentally, my servicing dealer uses these Indian knock-offs with oil change specials that they advertise as supplying only "Genuine Mazda Parts". (Yet another reason to do your own oil changes.)
 

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I don't mind the concept of a cartridge filter, but why did they have to make the housing out of plastic? I'm converting to a spin-on once I'm off warranty for that reason. The plastic will become more brittle with time, and I don't trust it.

[quote author=teamsc10190 link=topic=69148.msg1199435#msg1199435 date=1171134561]
Incidentally, my servicing dealer uses these Indian knock-offs with oil change specials that they advertise as supplying only "Genuine Mazda Parts". (Yet another reason to do your own oil changes.)
[/quote]

I would contact Mazda on that - I'm sure they'll be really impressed - and never return to that dealership for anything.
 

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[quote author=rpn453 link=topic=69148.msg1199509#msg1199509 date=1171136638]
I don't mind the concept of a cartridge filter, but why did they have to make the housing out of plastic? I'm converting to a spin-on once I'm off warranty for that reason. The plastic will become more brittle with time, and I don't trust it. (quote)

While I understand your concern regarding the plastic cover, (the housing is actually made of aluminum), the capabilities of modern structural composites are really quite extraordinary. If you're concerned for the longevity and strength of composites, don't get on a modern airplane, because you bet your life on the strength and durability of composites every time you set foot on a modern aircraft.

I haven't looked closely at the oil filter cover to see what material it is formed of, I will look closely during my next oil change and provide feedback.

The primary risk for the plastic cover is for thread failure due to over torquing. If Mazda made the cap out of the right composite material, and you're careful to torque the cap properly during installation, I'm confident that the cap will outlive the car.

You actually have a lot more potential failure points with a spin on filter:

1) The mounting thread on the filter base needs to be machined perfectly perpendicular to the gasket surface during manufacture otherwise you wind up with point contact between the gasket and the engine mounting surface. Even that the gasket is made of a malleable rubber compound, and you tighten the filter you can have differential compression of the gasket that makes a risk for leakage. A properly designed thread on the filter can is intentionally oversized to permit a degree of 'float' to effectively cancel out a degree of thread misalignment to equalize gasket compression as you tighten the filter. Spin-on oil filters are not precision machined parts, they are inexpensive mass-produced components with wide sample variances.
2) The only thing that seals and retains a spin-on oil filter is the compression of the sealing gasket. Gasket compound specification is critical to the performance of the part over temperature and vibration conditions. Remember a little incident with the space shuttle Challenger and failed o-rings at low temperature? The sealing o-ring on your spin-on oil filter is no different other than the fact that your car won't explode if the gasket fails. What can happen is that the gasket can shrink and become brittle at low temperature increasing the possibility for leakage, lost oil pressure, and the filter becoming loose with vibration. This is of more consideration in winter weather climates.
3) The process where the metal can is crimped to the base is critical to the mechanical integrity of the filter and has everything to do with the burst pressure for the filter.
4) Your engine's useful life depends upon the performance of the check valve in the spin-on filter that prevents bleed-down when the engine is shut down to maintain oil pressure at rest. Some spin-on's don't even have a check valve, and the ones that do are all over the board in terms of how effective they are. Keep in mind that the spin-on is an inexpensive disposable part designed for a short useful life. In a cartridge filter, the check valve is a precision machined, robust component designed to last the life of the car because it doesn't get changed with the filter.

Th key point is that the many compromises of a spin-on oil filter are far more significant that any concern you might have for the integrity of the plastic cap on the canister. If it would make you feel better, replace the cap every couple of years, but keep the canister. It's a better filter solution and it's easier on our environment.
 

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[quote author=teamsc10190 link=topic=69148.msg1199715#msg1199715 date=1171142165]
While I understand your concern regarding the plastic cover, (the housing is actually made of aluminum), the capabilities of modern structural composites are really quite extraordinary. If you're concerned for the longevity and strength of composites, don't get on a modern airplane, because you bet your life on the strength and durability of composites every time you set foot on a modern aircraft.[/quote]

I'd be willing to call it a cap. Mazda calls it an "oil filter cover", but cover is a poor term that probably got messed up in Japanese-to-English translation since it is a pressurized component of the housing, and it's function is not to cover something. Enough semantics babble though; I really shouldn't have referred to it as the housing anyway. :)

I'm not concerned about composites involving thermoset plastics in general, just in this application. Unlike airplanes, this is not an application where the maintenance is always done by qualified people with proper tools; whether it's DIY, dealer, or Jiffy Lube. I don't have the proper filter wrench and Mazda here can't/won't get it for me. With the cost of ordering one from the States I could buy the conversion kit, which is easier to use and I trust it more.

Are you sure it's even a composite? What are the fibers made of?

[quote author=teamsc10190 link=topic=69148.msg1199715#msg1199715 date=1171142165]
You actually have a lot more potential failure points with a spin on filter:

1) The mounting thread on the filter base needs to be machined perfectly perpendicular to the gasket surface during manufacture otherwise you wind up with point contact between the gasket and the engine mounting surface. Even that the gasket is made of a malleable rubber compound, and you tighten the filter you can have differential compression of the gasket that makes a risk for leakage. A properly designed thread on the filter can is intentionally oversized to permit a degree of 'float' to effectively cancel out a degree of thread misalignment to equalize gasket compression as you tighten the filter. Spin-on oil filters are not precision machined parts, they are inexpensive mass-produced components with wide sample variances.[/quote]

And yet, they're reliable. I'll agree that a leak is more likely on a spin-on if both are properly installed, but it's not likely to be big enough to cause damage the way failure of the plastic cap can.

[quote author=teamsc10190 link=topic=69148.msg1199715#msg1199715 date=1171142165]
2) The only thing that seals and retains a spin-on oil filter is the compression of the sealing gasket. Gasket compound specification is critical to the performance of the part over temperature and vibration conditions. Remember a little incident with the space shuttle Challenger and failed o-rings at low temperature? The sealing o-ring on your spin-on oil filter is no different other than the fact that your car won't explode if the gasket fails. What can happen is that the gasket can shrink and become brittle at low temperature increasing the possibility for leakage, lost oil pressure, and the filter becoming loose with vibration. This is of more consideration in winter weather climates.[/quote]

We see -40F every winter, and I've never heard of that happening. The Challenger had a known design flaw that they chose to ignore, and went ahead with the mission in untested conditions, while spin-on filters have proven themselves reliable in cold climates for decades.

[quote author=teamsc10190 link=topic=69148.msg1199715#msg1199715 date=1171142165]
3) The process where the metal can is crimped to the base is critical to the mechanical integrity of the filter and has everything to do with the burst pressure for the filter.[/quote]

Once again, I've never heard of one failing.

[quote author=teamsc10190 link=topic=69148.msg1199715#msg1199715 date=1171142165]
4) Your engine's useful life depends upon the performance of the check valve in the spin-on filter that prevents bleed-down when the engine is shut down to maintain oil pressure at rest. Some spin-on's don't even have a check valve, and the ones that do are all over the board in terms of how effective they are. Keep in mind that the spin-on is an inexpensive disposable part designed for a short useful life. In a cartridge filter, the check valve is a precision machined, robust component designed to last the life of the car because it doesn't get changed with the filter.[/quote]

The anti-drainback valve on a spin-on filter is not necessarily there to prevent drainage of the filter. It is there to prevent the backflow from happening quickly enough that it flushes the contaminants collected in the filter media out of the filter. There are many vehicles where the filter will always be empty at startup regardless. The 2.0 in the Mazda MX-6/626 is an example of this, and many with those vehicles have gotten good life out of the engine. The engine manufacturer can just as easily put a high quality check valve on a spin-on setup if it's critical anyway.

[quote author=teamsc10190 link=topic=69148.msg1199715#msg1199715 date=1171142165]
The key point is that the many compromises of a spin-on oil filter are far more significant that any concern you might have for the integrity of the plastic cap on the canister. If it would make you feel better, replace the cap every couple of years, but keep the canister. It's a better filter solution and it's easier on our environment.
[/quote]

If you're concerned about the environment, the oil filters are not even significant compared to the fact that you're driving a car in the first place; have you ever worked on a drilling rig, or in a refinery or a mine? I take all my filters to the local drop-off for proper disposal/recycling anyway.

I liked the idea of the cartridge filter when I first got the car, since I could look at the filter each time I changed it and easily see the differences in filter construction between brands without the messy process of cutting the filter open - for example, Mazda OEM had 50% more filter pleats than NAPA when I looked at them 2 years ago and I could see that without even buying it - but I just don't trust it anymore after all the horror stories, and they can only get worse with age.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I don't have the proper filter wrench and Mazda here can't/won't get it for me.
I don't have a special tool from Mazda either. I took the cover down to my local car parts store, and matched it up with an off-the-shelf oil filter tool for $4.00. Prior to this, I used a rubber strap wrench that worked just fine.

I disagree that the cartridge filter is any less convenient to change, just "different".
I could buy the conversion kit, which is easier to use and I trust it more.
You disagree with my statement that cartridge filters are less convenient to change, at the same time advising that you want to convert to a spin-on because it's easier to use? I'm confused.

Are you sure it's even a composite? What are the fibers made of?
As I stated, I hadn't examined the cover critically to determine it's composition because I wasn't concerned with premature mortality of the part. Most molded OEM parts contain a molded stamp to indicate the material composition of the part, and I will look for the marking during my next oil change.

I'll agree that a leak is more likely on a spin-on if both are properly installed, but it's not likely to be big enough to cause damage the way failure of the plastic cap can.
I can't see the foundation for your opinion that the plastic cap of the cartridge filter is inherently more prone to catastrophic failure.

Once again, I've never heard of one failing.
And that means that spin-on filters don't fail?

The anti-drainback valve on a spin-on filter is not necessarily there to prevent drainage of the filter.
Sorry, but the primary function of a filter's anti-drainback valve is just that; to prevent the oil from draining back into the crankcase on shutdown, so that the engine has ready oil pressure on start-up.

If you're concerned about the environment, the oil filters are not even significant compared to the fact that you're driving a car in the first place; have you ever worked on a drilling rig, or in a refinery or a mine?
And your point is that my driving a car disqualifies me to be concerned with the environment? In my opinion, we all have a responsibility to the planet and to our children who will inherit this earth to make the best choices we can to minimize damage to the environment. The entire premise of my posting was that cartridge filters are a better choice for the environment than spin-ons.

I liked the idea of the cartridge filter when I first got the car.... but I just don't trust it anymore after all the horror stories, and they can only get worse with age.
Feelings, opinions, and handed down 'horror stories' often help to propogate half-truths and rumors that can't be substantiated given objective scrutiny. If putting a spin-on filter will make you feel better - by all means, go for it!
As you go through this forum there is lots of advice concerning the demon tweek of the week that folks feel makes the car better suited for them and that's what individualization is all about and thats why we have a robust speciality automotive industry.
 

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[quote author=teamsc10190 link=topic=69148.msg1200223#msg1200223 date=1171167341]
I disagree that the cartridge filter is any less convenient to change, just "different".
I could buy the conversion kit, which is easier to use and I trust it more.
You disagree with my statement that cartridge filters are less convenient to change, at the same time advising that you want to convert to a spin-on because it's easier to use? I'm confused.
[/quote]

That was some other guy.

[quote author=teamsc10190 link=topic=69148.msg1200223#msg1200223 date=1171167341]
I'll agree that a leak is more likely on a spin-on if both are properly installed, but it's not likely to be big enough to cause damage the way failure of the plastic cap can.
I can't see the foundation for your opinion that the plastic cap of the cartridge filter is inherently more prone to catastrophic failure. [/quote]

The failure of the cap seems to dump the oil out quickly, while a gasket leak is usually slow enough that you could catch it before it's a serious problem, IMHO.

[quote author=teamsc10190 link=topic=69148.msg1200223#msg1200223 date=1171167341]
The anti-drainback valve on a spin-on filter is not necessarily there to prevent drainage of the filter.
Sorry, but the primary function of a filter's anti-drainback valve is just that; to prevent the oil from draining back into the crankcase on shutdown, so that the engine has ready oil pressure on start-up.[/quote]

I agree to disagree.

[quote author=teamsc10190 link=topic=69148.msg1200223#msg1200223 date=1171167341]
If you're concerned about the environment, the oil filters are not even significant compared to the fact that you're driving a car in the first place; have you ever worked on a drilling rig, or in a refinery or a mine?
And your point is that my driving a car disqualifies me to be concerned with the environment? In my opinion, we all have a responsibility to the planet and to our children who will inherit this earth to make the best choices we can to minimize damage to the environment. The entire premise of my posting was that cartridge filters are a better choice for the environment than spin-ons. [/quote]

It's better for the environment for me to take my spin-ons to the proper disposal location than for someone to throw their cartridge in the trash. Proper disposal of oil and filters is more of an issue than the oil filter construction. But yes, there is a little less material involved in a cartridge filter. If you do a few oil changes so that the metal saved in filters overcomes the extra amount in the cartridge housing, then you can be happy that you're reducing your personal environmental impact by 0.000000000000001%. I'm not saying that we shouldn't be environmentally conscious; I'm just saying that the tiny bit better that a cartridge filter is for the environment is not worth it in this case. If Mazda had used a more robust design, I'd be all for it.

[quote author=teamsc10190 link=topic=69148.msg1200223#msg1200223 date=1171167341]
I liked the idea of the cartridge filter when I first got the car.... but I just don't trust it anymore after all the horror stories, and they can only get worse with age.
Feelings, opinions, and handed down 'horror stories' often help to propogate half-truths and rumors that can't be substantiated given objective scrutiny. If putting a spin-on filter will make you feel better - by all means, go for it!
[/quote]

Mazda is even accepting responsibility for the failure in one case here:

http://www.mazda3forums.com/index.php?topic=67599.0

There are links on there to others who've had problems too. I'm sure that it is due to poor practice some of the time, but I can't confirm that it always is. Maybe I'm just paranoid, but that's not exactly confidence-inspiring. I've been a member of a motor oil/lubrication forum for 5 years and never heard of a spin-on filter causing catastrophic failure, yet I've heard of many cartridge system failures here. I haven't heard of anyone with a 2.0L here having a filter problem either, and they've more than made up for their spin-on filters by getting 10% better fuel economy!

I apologize for steering us off-topic a little, but manufacturing new engines is also quite wasteful and hard on the environment!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I get it that you have an axe to grind with Mazda's execution for their cartridge filter, but this is pretty far afield of the basic premise for this thread that was all about environmental considerations underlying cartridge filters.
 
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