Oil filters

I’d also suggest that more Fram filters probably fail than any other, simply because more are sold.

Hey OK4450,

I’m happy to try and answer your question. I should point out again that I have not had any recent experience with Fram, because after a while I tend to just give up on something never to look back. So I can’t say I’ve dealt with them recently. It may be time to look into them again. In my experience it’s not so much failures, but defects that have caught my eyes years ago. Gaskets falling off, glue everywhere both externally and internally, and some poor machining of the threads. I didn’t like what I saw when they were cut open and the construction just didn’t seem solid, or some of the pleats were wedged and stuck together which means less filter capacity. I wish I had some of the articles I had read years ago where Fram came up. Outside of defects I can’t say how they did long-term because I simply wouldn’t put them on cars. Any cars with trouble from oil starvation or filter failures I can’t speak to with proof a Fram was the cause. I did have people tell me they had trouble with the Fram filters (Leaks, blow-off, internals came loose), but other than that it’s been what people have shared personally on message boards.

Usually I know better than to dismiss products from word-of-mouth experience or what I read on the Internet, but my own observation of their quality control back then (mid 1990’s) bothered me enough to consider it. I used to feel the same way about Champion spark plugs in the late 80’s early 90’s when the cermamic on the plugs seemed to have poor quality or I would see cracked plugs. Who knows how they do now-I know that they make plugs for Formula 1 teams, but it just stuck with me (By the way I’ve been a fan of NGK plugs over the years). There’s so many options out there for a particular item that sometimes you go with your gut feeling. Oh well, I don’t want to make any enemies over this and really hate putting products down (I wish most were great-it makes it easy to just tell someone to go down to the local parts place and grab whatever they have).

I generally stay away from Fram. I last used a Fram about 10 years ago, at the time I had a 1992 Ford T-Bird SC. The valve clatter it made after installing the Fram upon startup didn’t sit well with me (car had about 70k ish miles on it at that point). Since then I’ve used Motorcraft and Purolater filters almost exclusively. I use K&N oil fiters when I take my vehicles in to a garage for tire rotations, since there is always a chance that they will over tighten the filter and the nut on the end of the K&N makes is much easier to get an over tightened fiter off (I change my own oil, but it’s worth it to me to have someone else with a lift rotate the tires, and have them change the oil while I’m there).

I only use AC filters on my GM cars and Honda on the Acura. The AC’s are about $5 locally and the Honda filters are available on line for about $6. I just don’t see why anyone would want to try something different on an O6.

Only one person has brought up more than simple fit- flow rate AND bypass pressure are both significant factors. My VW uses a filter with a 33psi bypass, but many other cars use an 8-11psi bypass. Were I to use the latter in my VW, I might encounter situations where oil is not being filtered despite the oil operating at design pressure.

So, if you can match up fit, flow rate, and bypass rate, you can use any filter you want (preferably larger, of course).

Totally non-scientific here, but I say any modern filter that will physically fit on your car and not leak will work. This is how the quick-lube places do it. They can’t possibly stock the proper filter for every car that rolls through their joint.

I used to drive a ford escort (years ago!). The small 4 cyl engine used a Motorcraft FL-400-A filter - about the size of a can of soup. But the gasket and mounting threads were the same size as the FL-1-A a much larger filter, capacity of about a quart. I did this for years with no apparent problems.

I know this has turned into a Fram filter shouting match, but it bears repeating for the original poster-

Oil filter is more than just mere fit. You must also match the flow rate and bypass pressure. Many filters run 8-11psi bypasses, and some like the one in my VW, run a 30 PSI bypass. Should I put a lower pressure filter in my car, I’m likely to encounter situations where the bypass comes into play due to the normal operating parameters of the oil, thus not filtering my oil. This would obviously be a bad thing.

If you can get your hands on the spec sheet for all the oil filters a manufacturer offers, you can find the right one. For example, VW a few years back specced a new filter for their 1.8T engines when mounted in a longitudinal powertrain. A larger filter was needed to hold more oil and increase the overall oil capacity of the engine, so they went to the parts bin and declared that the oil filter for a '78-'84 diesel Rabbit would fit the bill, as it was significantly larger and the filter’s specs were proper for the engine.

I have seen gaskets fall off OEM filters.  I have not looking inside many filters, but I have to ask.  Have you even seen damage to the engine due to "glue everywhere both externally and internally, and some poor machining of the threads. .. or some of the pleats were wedged and stuck together which means less filter capacity" or from "construction just didn't  [b] seem [/b] solid".

Joe I already answered this in detail and specifically addressed that in my post. I don’t know what else you’re looking for-you’ve got what I have to offer on the topic.

“You get what you pay for” is somewhat true. I have cut many filters and concluded that most of the discounted brands are lacking in quality. Some combination of thin walls, thin base plates, minimal filtering media, poor quality media, poor construction and lack of check valves allows for making a profit at the low price. It seems safest for me to use OE whenever possible. When OE is not readily available WIX and Hastings filters are second choice. I have seen filters blow off, stripping threads on the base, collapse and plug the engine galleys, split open and seperate at the base. All these failures were “discoounted” filters. For a couple of dollars more for the filter compared to the potential damage it just doesn’t seem worth taking the chance, so I don’t.

“They can’t possibly stock the proper filter for every car that rolls through their joint.”

Good reason to stay the he!! away from the quick-lube places!

Thank you for the answer. Like any production line item maybe Fram had a few bad ones get through the process. I was only pointing out that it’s something I’ve never seen nor heard of.
Funny you should mention the Champion plugs. I ran into a batch of bad ones back in the late 80s also and they caused me a lot of grief (a.k.a. money) and after about 4 go-arounds I quit using Champions and have not used them since.

As to your post about becoming upset with MikeinNH, do not allow this to cause you to leave the forum. Any and all technical advice is appreciated (hopefully) not only by car owners but techs also.
Heck, I’ve been crossways with Mike on a bi-weekly basis for years and he doesn’t make me mad or even irritate me. I agree with him on some issues and disagree on a few others mainly because I feel he generalizes too much.
Matter of fact, if I was ever in NH I’d even buy him a cup of coffee, cold beer, or a whiskey on the rocks to show him no hard feelings.

Your response was clear, but I was just checking to see if you had any additional data. Thanks.

Dave G:
Please, as OK4450 noted, do not let a bad reply cause you to leave this forum. We will never all agree and sometimes it takes extra effort to respect each others’ opinions.

I really value what I learn from this forum, and many times I need to say “oops, I was wrong”. A key feature that makes it great is the diverse backgrounds of all the contributors.

To OK4450, JoeMario: Thanks for your positive replies. I suppose I got a bit irritated about Mike although I’m not angry with him. He has a reasonable argument to make unlike lots of the off-the-wall posts that get made here. I don’t think I’ll be leaving the forums anytime soon, as it serves as a place where I can learn too. I think the alignment thread we had not too long ago where a certain poster was suggesting that cars don’t need alignments left me a bit sour, but I’m good now haha.

Beware the presence of an anti drain back and bypass valves if required by your vehicle.

I’ve had two bad experiences in using filters that were not the same brand as called for in the owner’s manual, but did match on the cross-reference charts. The first experience was the filter for the transmission fluid in the hydrostatic unit on an MTD lawn tractor. It’s been too long ago to remember the make of filter recomended by MTD, but it was an automobile oil filter. I couldn’t find the correct filter in the brand called for in the manual, so I substituted another make from the cross reference chart. Everything seemed to work at first and then the tractor wouldn’t move. What happened is that when I would raise the mower deck, part of the assembly hit the oil filter and eventually knocked a hole in the filter causing the loss in the transmission fluid. The substitute filter was about 1/2" longer than the one specified in the manual. My second bad experience was with a 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass with the 260 cubic inch V-8. The manual calls for an AC PF 45 filter. There isn’t much room to work, so I bought an end wrench to remove the filter. I substituted another make of filter from the cross-reference chart, and the end wrench wouldn’t fit this filter when I needed to change it. I’ve had the car since 1978 and I still use the AC filter for this reason.

I can’t testify to the filtration properties among the different brand of filters, but there are times where the physical size makes a difference

Its not that Fram filters have failures, ist just that they fail to filter out sediment and particles completely.

Did you make sure that the old gasket came off with the old filter and that you did not double gasket it? Did you wet the flat sides of the new gasket with oil before you installed the new filter? If one Honda or Toyota broke would you forever swear off Hondas and Toyotas?

I use Fram filters a lot and have had no problem with them. Coming from an engineering background, my view is that you, as a layman, can not judge the performance of almost any item by simply looking at it. An engineer’s job is to make the best with the least.

No problem. I’ve probably been crossways with Mike more than anyone on this forum and odds are will be crossways again before the end of the month. :slight_smile: (Hate to even say it but there’s a reason why I even have a certain amount of respect for him.

I think what causes some of the disagreement sometimes is that an automotive problem can be looked at in several ways; from the DIYer/car owner perspective and the auto tech perspective.
Look at the alignment issue you mention. Some think an alignment will never change no matter how many potholes and suspension settlings a car goes through and of course, I disagree with that premise.

Just got back from a trip to CO visiting my son and daughter in law and took a ride in their 07 Dodge Caliber with 15k miles on it. The car suffers from a tire whine caused by feather edging on inside of the front tires. Apparently neither my wife or the other two could hear this whine or feel it in the car. (Non techs all of them of course and yet I’m the guy with a 50% hearing loss in both ears!)
Back at the house later a tape measure showed the front wheels towed out 1/8" so now they have some slightly damaged expensive 18" tires. Of course, if they had rotated them as they should have at 6k mile intervals this may have been caught.
So they all get upset with me for pointing out this problem, go figture. Who says the tires have to be rotated at 6k miles they say; as I’m reaching for the owners manual in the glove box.

You’ll also hear other fallacies about disc brake rotors not warping, rotors not needing to be replaced/machined while doing a brake job, forget changing trans fluid, fuel filters, etc. on a regular basis, etc. About all you can do is voice an opinion and debate the issue as much as you care to.
Anyhoo, stick around; your input is valued.

There’s also a tendency to take any complaint at face value and I constantly point out on here that often there is “the rest of the story” as Paul Harvey would say. Being in the field you know what I’m talking about.