Should You Use a Conventional or Synthetic Oil Filter for Your Volvo Cars?

The oil used in Volvos today is commonly a mix of synthetic oil and regular oil – a Castrol synthetic blend oil. However, you do not absolutely have to use synthetic oil in your Volvo. So, the filter for Volvo cars depends on whether or not you use synthetic oil, a blend, or regular oil.

And while we’re at it, we’re going to take a look at a couple of other popular questions regarding oil and oil filters.

Synthetic Oil Filter or Conventional?

For the best protection of your car's engine, filters made with synthetic media are recommended. Here's why:

Improved Durability – Resins hold the media in your filter together. These resins are slowly degraded by hot oil. Hot engine temperatures also degrade the base plate gasket and the anti-drain valve. A filter with media reinforcement is recommended (i.e., wire backing) to allow for longer drain intervals and to withstand increased heat. For maximum durability, your filter should have an anti-drain valve of silicone. This prevents next day dry starts because, even after the engine has been shut off, the oil stays in the filter.

Increased Capacity – What does capacity refer to? While still remaining effective, capacity refers to how many contaminants are held within the filter. Compared to conventional media, greater capacity is offered by full synthetic media. Please note that there is not actually an industry-standard capacity rating that applies to this topic. Synthetic media’s smaller fibers, without restricting flow, allow more room for contaminants to remain trapped.

Increased Efficiency – What does efficiency refer to? The ability of your filter to capture contaminants is its efficiency. The manufacturer's website or the package in which your filter comes should list the filter’s efficiency. A micron rating preceded by a percentage is used to signify the efficiency – i.e., 98.7% @20 µm (µm is the symbol for microns). The higher the percentage for a filter, the higher quality the filter is.

Can the Filter Differ from the Oil?

Can you use conventional oil with a synthetic filter, and vice versa? Bottom line… yes, that's fine. But know this: synthetic oil allows longer intervals between oil changes. The service life that would be required from a conventional oil filter may not be something that a conventional oil filter is capable of delivering. So, would you change out the filter while not changing out the oil? That would be difficult and impractical. 

What Makes up an Oil Filter?

Most oil filters have, on average, some pretty basic parts. They are as follows:

  • Gasket – Technically speaking, this is outside the filter but, critical to preventing oil leaks, the gasket creates a seal against the engine block.
  • Anti-Drain Valve – So that upon start up you have immediate oil pressure, even after you shut the engine off, this prevents oil from draining out of the filter.
  • Filter Media – This is the filter’s heart and soul. This is where all of the contaminants trapped by the filter remain and are stopped from causing further wear to your engine by recirculating.

Surrounding all of this is the filter housing which provides against pressure fatigue with superior strength.

Above all else, always use Volvo replacement parts in your Volvo. Other parts may hold claims by the manufacturer that they are generic and will work in any or many automobiles, but they may not. The wrong part can damage surrounding engine parts and threaten the life expectancy of your Volvo’s engine.