Strapped to the bottom of your car like a colostomy bag full of dinosaur goo, oil filters are disgusting. Worse? They’re biohazards. Because they’re disposable, Americans go through Americans throw out more than 400 million oil filters every year, each still containing between 4 and 8 ounces of dirty oil that can leech into the soil or bleed into our water supply. “Oil filters are just biological nightmares,” says Dan Harden, president and principal designer of Whipsaw, a Silicon Valley-based industrial design and engineering firm.
The Hubb Lifetime Oil Filter is something different. Designed and engineered for mass production by Whipsaw based upon technology created by Hubb, the Lifetime Oil Filter is a stainless steel oil filter that you never have to throw out. It doubles the amount of time you can go between oil changes by maximizing both filter size and filtration efficiency, and it improves any car’s fuel efficiency by a minimum of 2%, according to Whipsaw. All with a sleek industrial design that looks like someone just broke a piece off a race car, and dropped it in your engine.
Oil Filters: A Necessary Evil
Oil filters have always been a necessary evil for the automotive industry. The earliest automobiles didn’t have them, which meant that impurities could build up in an engine over time and make it break down, sometimes catastrophically. In the 1920s, the first disposable oil filters were introduced, and today, most oil filters are made out of paper pulp, which we’re told to discard, on average, every 3,000 miles.
These filters have a lot of problems, though. Almost every filter on the market used what’s called a bypass filter. All oil filters need to have a bypass valve, to make sure that an engine is never starved for oil, even if the filter is having a hard time filtering the oil. In most filters, this bypass valve is open 90% of the time, blasting unfiltered oil right into your engine. So oil doesn’t get cleaned once every cycle; it’s only over a long period of time that your oil truly gets filtered.
Then there’s construction. Almost all oil filters are made out of paper pulp, which makes them cheap to produce, but also inefficient. You can’t control the size of the holes in a paper filter, leaving the size of the particles you catch up to chance.
Efficient, Convenient, And Beautiful
Hubb’s Lifetime Oil Filter is fiercely efficient. Made of a surgical stainless steel mesh that resists corrosion, the Hubb’s filtration holes are designed, through Whipsaw’s tests, to spec at the average size of the impurities that flow through your engine. That means it’s not only designed to sweep out more impurities per cycle than a regular filter, it’s also meant to prevent perfectly good filtration holes from getting clogged up.
The other benefit of holes that don’t clog up so quickly: less engine power is required to force oil through the holes. Whipsaw tested local police departments, delivery trucks, and other moving vehicles, and calculated that the new design allows for a fuel economy savings of 2.4%–not an insubstantial when gas prices average $2.39 per gallon.
The filter has a sleek, industrial look, which was pretty much just accidental. “The form follows function,” Harden says. “The beauty comes from the materials, the efficiency, the lack of embellishment. It’s a machine aesthetic that, in itself, is timeless, because it’s as efficient as we know how to make it.”
What all this means for consumers: The filter needs “replacing” less often–you can get away with 12,000 or more miles, compared to a regular oil filter’s 3,000 to 8,000 miles. Those air quotes are because it doesn’t need to be replaced: you can just wash it out with biodegradable soap, or–soon enough–get it swapped out at a Jiffy Lube or other oil changing station near you, in under half an hour.
But It’ll Cost You
The downside: Hubb Lifetime Filter costs $89, about four times as much as a regular oil filter now. Whipsaw insists that the filter will last 50 years–longer than the lifespan of your car, so you can just screw it out and bring it to your next vehicle. The Hubb Lifetime Oil Filter is available at select automotive centers.