Changing with the Times: Why Toyota Uses Cartridge Oil Filters
Early engine oil filters were of the cartridge variety, in which a metal housing permanently affixed to the engine contained a replaceable filter element, or cartridge.
These so-called cartridge filters eventually gave way to the newer, more convenient “spin-on” filters—in which a self-contained housing and filter assembly is unscrewed from its mount, discarded, and replaced with an all-new assembly. Both types of oil filters are designed to be disposable, but the spin-on filter is easier to change. Therefore, its widespread popularity.
All of this, of course, was before the environmental movement implored us to rethink how we disposed of our garbage and hazardous waste materials. Not only does the spin-on oil filter qualify as both, but if California were to recycle every one of the estimated 70 million spin-on filters sold annually in the state, it could recover enough steel to build three sports stadiums. (Source: Ecogard)
To curb such massive waste, several auto companies—including Toyota—have reverted to using cartridge oil filters again, as their use results in less waste which is easier to dispose of properly. Plus, from a technology standpoint, today’s cartridge oil filters are much better made, using advanced materials that can remove much smaller contaminants while maintaining the high-flow rate required by today’s high-functioning engines. Not the perfect solution, but one that creates substantially less waste as the automobile industry moves with deliberate speed toward its goal of an all-electric future.
For you automotive do-it-yourselfers, the general procedure for changing the oil and replacing the filter cartridge on your Toyota is relatively easy—provided you have the proper tools and safe access to your car’s underside. But speaking for those of us who should never even think of crawling beneath a car, it is best to leave the job to a trusted mechanic or authorized Toyota service technician.