The MGA With An Attitude

Filter descriptions, original MGA type - - Filter Descriptions, original variations
Filter Cartridges - - Filter Seal Rings - - Spin-on adapters, Aftermarket
Spin-on adapters, MGB - - Filter types - - Frequently asked questions
Personal preferences

"Do you have a preference for a particular type of oil filter?"

Actually I do! I drive my MG a lot, and I change the oil often, sometimes as often as once a month, or even every two weeks on a LONG road trip, so convenience is a significant factor. As form follows function, I wouldn't be without a spin-on adapter. I used to have an inverted type spin-on adapter, and used it for several years before giving it up to a friend who wanted it for use in a race car. At that time I bought a hanging type spin-on filter adapter, and have been using that for a few more years. The hanging filter type adapter is cheaper to buy, and it works quite well. The inverted filter adapter makes it even easier to R&R the filter, and it also works well, as long as the filter has the built in anti-drain back check valve. These are sometimes available on eBay for reasonable price.

Comments on the hanging spin-on filter:

It's rather close quarters down there next to the frame rail, so it may be not quite as convenient as you would like when it comes to removing the old filter. If it's really tight you might have trouble swinging a band type filter wrench. An end-cap type filter wrench (big tin or plastic socket) that you work with a 3/8 inch socket extension can work from below, but you will probably also need to use a universal joint driver, which is a little less convenient. The hanging filters are fairly small in diameter, but still close to the frame rail. These filters are available in long or short canister sizes, with the short ones probably being a little easier for wrenching from below. Folks concerned about maximum flow capacity or total filter media area (like me) may prefer the longer filter. And if it should ever come to pass, you have to remove the hanging filter before you can remove the engine from the car, because it would otherwise hit the right side engine mount pedestal on the frame. You also have to remove the hanging filter in order to remove the starter motor. Filters from different manufacturers may have a different number of flutes (finger grips) on the end, so not every end cap wrench will fit every filter. The one significant advantage of the (non-offset) hanging type adapter is a low purchase price.

As convenient as a spin-off filter is, that still doesn't mean that you can change it without making a mess. The hanging filter adapter has the filter suspended at the same angle as the original filter canister, so when you start to unscrew the spin-off filter oil will escape and run down the outside of the filter. Before you can get it all the way unscrewed you will have a hand full of oil, maybe even dripping off your elbow. The canister becomes very slippery, and some oil may also be running down the side of the engine block and dripping off the sump support flange in unexpected locations, including behind the starter motor where it's difficult to clean up. The offset hanging filter adapter will hold the filter in a more vertical position, so the oil slobbering may be a bit less and not on the engine block, but it will still dribble some down the sides of the filter.

Comments on the inverted spin-on filter:

The inverted filter gets positioned on top of the adapter between the distributor and the generator. This is usually not a problem for access to the generator connection wires, particularly the later type with the push on connectors. It does however somewhat obstruct access to the distributor mounting bolt, so wrenching the dizzy pinch bolt will be a little less convenient. This is not impossible by any means, just a bit more bother. Advantages are easy access to change the filter from the top, plenty of space to swing the filter wrench, and not having to remove the filter to pull the engine or to R&R the starter motor. As a point of personal habit I like to write the date and mileage on the exposed top end of the filter with a felt pen. The one significant disadvantage is the initial purchase price of the inverted adapter, likely being three times the price of the straight hanging adapter.

Now you might think that the inverted spin-on filter would make a bigger mess when you have to change it. Ah, but there is a trick to make it a lot less messy. I start my oil change by punching two small holes in the top end of the inverted filter, one in the center and one near the edge outside of the filter media. This allows air to enter the canister and largely defeats the anti-drain back valve, allowing most of the oil to drain out of the filter back into the sump in just a few minutes. I then go drain the oil from the sump, and later return to R&R the spin-off filter, after it has had time to drain. It is surprising how little oil there is left in the filter by that time. It still dribbles a little, but you could catch the dribble with a rag held under the adapter as you remove the filter. When installing the new filter there is plenty of space up top to screw it on with your hands and no filter wrench required.

My personal preference, money aside, is the inverted spin-on adapter, for the convenience of changing the filter, being able to R&R the starter motor without removing the filter, and being able to R&R the engine to attend to clutch or gearbox problems without removing the filter.

Treat your oil filter properly, and give your engine a chance for a long life.

Barney Gaylord
1958 MGA with an attitude

NAPA filters are made by WIX, some of the best in the world.
Fram filters are (mostly) built to be cheap and are likely to be the worst in the world.

Filter quality varies widely, and is NOT necessarily commensurate with price. There is a nice web site where someone did a lot of research, cutting open various filters to investigate the inner construction and filter area and quality of the parts. Fram earned the place in the bottom of the bucket without question. See Oil Filter Study

Filter descriptions, original MGA type - - Filter Descriptions, original variations
Filter Cartridges - - Filter Seal Rings - - Spin-on adapters, Aftermarket
Spin-on adapters, MGB - - Filter types - - Frequently asked questions
Personal preferences

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