Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Is Fram a good oil filter brand

What’s the best oil filter brand?

Before anyone can decide whether an oil filter brand is good or bad, you first have to define the characteristics of a good oil filter. There are lots of Internet oil filter “studies” on the Internet and Youtube. Not one of them is based on any science. Here’s why those “studies” are worthless:

1. 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.

2. End cap construction 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. No manufacturer uses plain cardboard as all the “studies” say. It’s always resin impregnated cardboard. Filter makers like that material because it bonds much easier to the filter medial. In fact, it’s hard to bond filter media to a metal end cap. In the real world of oil filtration it makes no absolutely no difference whether the end cap is made from metal or a resin impregnated cardboard.

3. 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. Outside air is sucked into the crankcase to replace the blowby gasses that are pulled out by the PVC system. Modern fuel injected engines have much tighter air intake systems than engines that had carburetors, so that “make up” air is filtered much better and contains far fewer particulates. That’s true as long as you change the air filter.

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.

4. Bypass valve material is critical to its operation. But it really comes down to two choices; nitrile or silicone. Filter price determines which material the manufacturer uses. Cheap filters designed for 3,000 mile oil changes usually contain a nitrile bypass valve. Nitrile is fine for a 3,000 mile oil change. 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 life of synthetic oil.

5. End plate construction is irrelevant. The thickness of the plate, number of holes, and size of the holes is completely meaningless. 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

6. Can design is 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. Together, Champ labs and Fram make 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 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

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