Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Fram oil filters

Fram oil filters — what you should know

Fram gets an undeserved bad rap

There are lots of Internet oil filter “tear down studies” on the Internet and Youtube. Most of them down rate Fram oil filters. But not a single one of those studies is based on actual testing. They’re just visual observations which have no bearing on how the filters actually perform.

Does pleat count have any bearing on a filter’s performance?

Pleat count is totally irrelevant to oil filter efficiency or quality. There are over 80 different best oil filter brandtypes of filter media in use today and a smaller filter with fewer pleats can easily out-filter a less efficient filter made from less efficient filtering media.

Does end-cap material choice have any effect on an oil filter’s performance?

End cap material is irrelevant. The sole purpose of the end cap is to prevent oil from flowing around the ends of the pleats and back into the engine without being filtered. That’s it—ends caps have no other job. As long as the pleats remain bonded to the end cap, and the end cap isn’t porous, it has done its job.

Some filter manufacturers construct their economy filters using resin impregnated fiber board. It’s less costly than metal and bonds easier to the filter media. In fact, it bonds better than a metal end cap!

As long as the filter pleats stay bonded to the end cap, there’s no difference in the filter’s performance in the real world. So judging a filter based on end cap material is a red herring because it has no relationship to the filter’s actual performance.

Also, even if a filter manufacturer uses resin-impregnated fiber board in their economy filters, they often use different materials in their higher end filters to improve longevity in extended oil change applications.

Particulate capacity isn’t as important as you think

Some filter companies rate their filters based on the number of grams of particulate matter they capture. Unfortunately, that’s just one aspect of proper oil filtration. If you compare brands based on just on particulate matter capacity, you’re missing the bigger picture.

Just as important as the particulate capacity is the filter media’s ability to filter out oil breakdown contaminates, sludge and acids. That’s why so many filter manufacturers have turned to a blend of cellulose and synthetic glass fibers. It does a much better job of capturing sludge and standing up to acid.

Bypass valve construction is important, but keep it relevant to the filter’s projected use

The choice of the bypass valve material is important. There are two materials used to construct the valve; nitrile or silicone. Filter price and oil change intervals determines which material the manufacturer uses.

Economy filters that are built for 3,000 mile oil changes usually use a nitrile bypass valve. However, since nitrile is less resistant to heat and acid, ti can harden and crack after 3,000 miles. Silicone remains flexible for the longer oil change intervals used with synthetic oil.

If you are doing 3,000 mile oil changes, the nitrile check valves will work just fine. If you’re doing extended oil change intervals, you shouldn’t be installing an economy filter rated for 3,000 miles.

End plate thickness — give me a break!

Many of the tear-down testers berate Fram for using thinner metal in their end plates (also called a tapping plate). End plate thickness is irrelevant. The thickness of the plate, the number of holes, and size of the holes is completely meaningless to filtration performance.

The only fact that’s relevant is whether the total area of the intake holes equals the total area of the drain hole. More holes or larger holes doesn’t improve performance at all. And, as long as the end plate is sturdy enough to hold the filter onto the mounting boss, it’s good enough. More is not better

Oil filter can design is also irrelevant

Some filters are made from thicker metal, but that’s just because they include a welded-on hex nut for removal. The purpose of the hex nut is for quicker oil filter changes when the vehicle is used for off roading. Period. As long as the can withstands normal oil pressure, thicker is not better.

So which is the best oil filter brand?

Fram gets a bad rap from make-believe reviewers. But if all the claims were true, we’d be seeing class action lawsuits every day. The truth is, Fram isn’t owned by either Allied Signal or Honeywell. They’re now owned by First Brands LLC which also owns filter manufacturer Champion Labs.

First Brands and Fram and Champion Labs are Tier 1 suppliers to major carmakers

Fram makes more oil and air filters than almost any other filter manufacturer in the world. In fact, many of the “best” oil filters in the bogus tear-down studies are actually manufactured by Fram or Champion Labs.

Most filter manufacturers make several quality levels of oil filters; one for the price conscious crowd and one for engines rated for extended oil changes. The high end filters from all filter manufacturers are built to go the distance. If you buy the high end filter from Bosch, Purolator, Fram, Wix, Hastings, and Mann, you’re getting a great filter. All the other brands, to the best of my knowledge are made by these same companies.

For a more detailed rebuttal of those oil filter studies, read this post

NOTE: I do not work for Fram and have absolutely no affiliation with Fram or any other filter manufacturer. I have no horse in this race.

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

Custom Wordpress Website created by Wizzy Wig Web Design, Minneapolis MN