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Thread: Critial warning re fram filters

  1. #1

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    Critial warning re fram filters

    We recently had one of our Fortins Engines fail due to low oil pressure. Working with the customer we determined that the root cause of the failure was a new FRAM oil filter that had internally disintegrated and plugged off its ability to pass oil through it thus starving the bearings for oil. Needless to say the engine did not live long without oil pressure.

    On the upside the customer will be getting a new engine, at no cost to them but at considerable aggravation at having to re and re the engine. Going forward he will no longer use FRAM filters.

    For our part all future engines will be shipped with a LARGE note stating that the use of any filter other than Lubrifiner or K&N brand filters will void the warranty.

    In researching this failure we have become aware that FRAM has in the recent past shipped their manufacturing off shore and it is these off shore products that are causing the issue.

    Our advice generally would be to discontinue the use of FRAM oil filters on any engine that you place a value on keeping it alive.

    Call me on our toll free at 866 853-5835 If you would like to discuss this in person.

  2. #2
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    It's up to the engine builder backing the warranty, of course, but there are plenty of great filters out there. One issue I have with K&N is that Fram bought their maker, Champ Labs, if I have been informed correctly.

    I wasn't aware that they were now offshore, just that plants in North America that weren't based in the US were prone to exactly the same problem ten years ago. Fram was taken off the shelf by Autozone at the time, too. I not only lost a motor to one, but nearly lost it's replacement with exactly the same symptoms, erratic pressure that disappeared completely, at random. I didn't cut it open, I just screwed on a decent filter, and no more problems. You can't save enough on filters to replace the motor, you get what you pay for.

    The Fram construction philosophy has been to bond a pressed fiber endcap on the filter media, instead of a stamped metal one. It's glued to the folded pleats on the end, and they say that bond is more important than the cardboard falling apart. Moot point, it's their filters with the bad track record, and they are about the only ones on the market with it.

    They also make filters for house brands, too. Purolator lost the O'Reilly contract, and in the required training for the change, it was mentioned that the new supplier (two years ago) was Fram, and that the fiber end cap was highly reliable and a better design.

    Having spent $1,800 to replace a motor and nearly losing that one, nope. Sorry somebody didn't get the word. Seems to be an ongoing problem, again.

  3. #3
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    And, not just to reply to my own post, O'Reilly is no longer having their filters made by Fram. As of Monday, September 9, the existing stock is being relabled with Wix numbers and they are now the maker.

    O'Reilly is a much larger corporate structure than they were a few years ago. It could very well be a move based on dollars alone - with stores in more that 30 states, they are a volume buyer now. They have done the same with other major makers in the past 36 months, and it seems it happens about twice a year now. Previously, the product lineup was carved in stone and was most notable for only stocking cash cow items, not new impulse market flashy stuff. Things are changing.

    No mention of pulling Fram off the shelf, however, unlike the previous situation.

  4. #4
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    I appreciate the heads-up regarding the Fram filters! I use them on all the family's cars. I didn't buy the entry level filters, always the Tough Guard or whatever they are called. However, I should I say that I DID use them on my family's cars. Filter switch over will commence now...

    The K & N relationship was unknown to me. However, WIX seems to have always been a solid product.

    Thanks again! And, good luck to everyone-- here's hoping that none of you experience a filter failure!!

    Regards,

    Steve

  5. #5

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    There are a number of filter tests and reviews that have been posted on the web over the last decade or two. Fram always seems to come out near the bottom. I quit using them well over 15 years ago. I'v been using Purolater Pro-1 and Motorcraft filters since then.
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  6. #6
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    My previous use of Fram was terminated with the installation of a new reman motor at the cost of $1,800. I subsequently discovered that the new motor's oil pressure fluctuation was directly linked to another of Fram's low cost filters. I was much more aware of the problem and caught it. Months later I was working at Autozone, Fram wasn't on the shelf, but ironically, they negotiated their way back, and I had to reset the planogram for them. The irony wasn't lost on me then or now.

    When O'Reilly dropped Purolator and went Fram, I saw a noticeable flagging in the enthusiasm to recommend the house brand filter. If people asked, they would shy away from them. In terms of sales, I believe some corporate buyer shot themselves in the foot. The number of oil sale specials also seemed to increase - with the house brand filter.

    The important point I took away from the experience (of installling a new motor evenings during the first week of a new job,) you can't save enough money on the cost of a filter to rebuild the motor if that filter fails. It's a critical part of the oiling system, it has it's own pressure relief valve (another item of controversy now that I'm a Subaru owner,) and how it is made internally can and will cause a major engine failure. There is nothing to gain making one so cheap that it could perform on the ragged edge of failure.

    When the changeover to Fram was announced! in OReilly, mandatory "training" about the wholesomeness of Fram filters and their quality was required. Nothing of the sort this time - if there hadn't been a relabel I wouldn't have caught on yet. Apparently we don't need educating that Wix is a quality filter.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Boz1911's Avatar
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    I went to Summit racing last week and they had hundreds of Fram filters on the bargain tables for a buck a piece. Sorta tells you something.

  8. #8
    Senior Member STLMARSHALL's Avatar
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    There have been multiple tests out there for years and all have said that the fram filters were substandard. I am surprised that anyone uses them. Sorry you had to lose an engine to find out. I have not bought one in over 10 years.

    http://www.300cforums.com/forums/gen...dissected.html

    http://www.s10forum.com/forum/f105/i...ctures-414839/

    http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r218...-FILTER-REVIEW
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    Some savvy customers have actually asked who made the house brand filter. Telling them, I could see a clearly negative reaction.

    In my experience the issue was limited to the Ford standard length. And, in another facet of irony, when I sold that specific truck years later from tornado damage, the new owner needed the engine. His Ford truck suddenly lost oil pressure and spun a bearing. I asked what color the filter was, he looked puzzled and said "orange." The resulting discussion was he'd been a happy Fram user up until I mentioned it, the back story, and why I won't ever again.

    I asked at work why the changeover and was told it was the normal two year cycle, and Wix was low bidder this time. Which means over the years, it can and will bounce around from one to the other, will you be buying the old Fram off the shelf, or the incoming new one?

    The say that consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. I guess big minds have big wallets and it's all the cost of living to them.

  10. #10
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    tirod-

    That's way I have always stayed away from the store brands. I knew that they simply get theirs made by the low bidder, which can change periodically based on the "new" low bidder. It's unfortunate, but it is also just business. There really isn't much brand loyalty when it comes to filters-- at least not like oil, as near as I can tell. Most people don't generally have a preference when it comes to filters, so the parts houses have no reason to pay more for their house brands. Same things is true for the quicky oil change places; I never use any of them...

    I've always felt that a good quality oil and filter are really cheap insurance to keeping an engine working for a long life. However, I wasn't aware of the issues with Fram, so I am grateful that this information was shared!

    Good luck with your oil and filter choices!!

    Regards,

    Steve

  11. #11
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    Thank for the heads up on the Fram filters guys, I checked the oil on my Mustang today before heading off to a car show and noticed I had a one on the car. I generally use a Ford filter (FL1A) when I change the oil, they must have been out of them picked up the oil and filter at the local parts store. I will be changing it out on the weekend.

    Thanks John

  12. #12
    Senior Member riptide motorsport's Avatar
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    What about the bypass? I don't understand, if you capped off the oil filter mount the oil will just bypass it, just as it should if the filter failed as you said. perhaps its just as likely it was another reason..................just sayin.
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  13. #13
    Junior Member idoxlr8's Avatar
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    Don't have an opinion on Fram filters one way or another but it turns out this particular failure wasn't related to a filter issue. Appears his injection system went wacky and dumped a bunch of raw fuel into the crankcase.

    http://www.ffcars.com/forums/31-cana...ines-rock.html

    Dean

  14. #14
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    I'll stick to my experience - one blown motor, one saved by the simple solution of replacing the filter, and the #1 auto parts supplier in American showing Fram the door. Add in the professionals who have also chimed in, again, to state their decision.

    It also goes to how much we don't know about the oiling system on cars - the answer to why does it lose all the pressure should be as commonly known as how rocker arms work.

    So, why does it lose pressure? It does, that is a fact.

  15. #15
    Senior Member STLMARSHALL's Avatar
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    I found another test that shows how lousy the el-cheapo Frams are.....but also shows that the higher quality Fram Xtended Guard is one of the best filters out there.

    http://www.gmtruckcentral.com/articl...gradesheet.htm

    POS Fram
    http://www.gmtruckcentral.com/articl...ilter/ph5.html

    Good Fram
    http://www.gmtruckcentral.com/articl...ilter/Xg5.html

    Pretty cool list of the after filter showing how much dirt got by the oil filter. The $8 Fram is #3 which is pretty good!
    http://www.gmtruckcentral.com/articl...omparison.html

    He actually rates the AC Delco, STP, and Shell filters as much worse than the Fram!
    Mike......FFR Coupe #340, 2003 LS1 350 RWHP, TKO 500, QT BH, Champ 10 QT pan, 5 Lug and AC, Cobra Disc, SAI mod, Nitto NT-01 275/315 ..Licensed for 28k..Just over 30k w/race tires and many mods
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