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The oil filter debate !

Old 17-Feb-2011, 04:45 PM
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Exclamation The oil filter debate !

When people talk about oil filters, the name "Fram" usually pops up. Why? Because they've been available at every major retailer since the beginning of time. The bright orange can is hard to miss on the shelves and the barrage of marketing behind the product is inescapable. Frams are available in three major grades: the garden variety "Extra Guard", the upgraded "Tough Guard" and the pricey "Extended Guard" or "Synthetic" in Canada.

Here's the bottom-line: Except for the top-of-the-line "Synthetic", Fram's filters are over-priced compared to the available competition. The construction quality of the Extra & Tough Guard line is inferior to filters half their price. In most oil filters, a metallic endcap holds the media and anti-drainback valve in place. On these Frams, it is made of cardboard. Fram defends it's position and the use of cardboard, but why then does it also resort to a metal endcap on its "Synthetic" filter?

That brings us to the last fact: Most of Honda's OEM oil filters are manufactured by Honeywell (Fram's parent company). Now, they're not an exact replica of the Fram Extra Guard, but they are very similar to the Tough Guard and that filter has cardboard endcaps. If you purchase the Honda part number ending in "A02", you're getting a Fram. Look for, or ask for Honda part number ending in "A01" (harder to find) as these are manufactured by Filtech. On to the pics...

Honda "A01" (Filtech) on Left, Fram Tough Guard on Right:
http://img841.imageshack.us/img841/3622/fram1.jpg

Fram Extra Guard opened up. Notice the cardboard endcaps:
http://img717.imageshack.us/img717/537/fram3.jpg

Fram and competitors. Can you spot the Fram manufactured filters?:
http://img407.imageshack.us/img407/156/fram5.jpg

Do you really want this filter protecting your engine?: :shock:
http://img266.imageshack.us/img266/8871/fram2.jpg

--->My two cents: Will your engine blow up using a Fram? Probably not. There are probably millions of cars on the road right now blissfully driving around with Fram oil filters installed. Would Honda risk its reputation on this? Unknown. Car companies usually look for the most cost efficient parts suppliers. I used to use Fram on my CRX because I just didn't know any better. I paid top dollar for what I thought was the best oil filter. Thankfully the internet came around and has informed me otherwise. I don't use OEM unless I can find an "A01" filter. Right now, I have a US-spec Supertech (Walmart) brand filter on my CRX. Made by Champion Labs (not the spark plug company), built like a tank. I pickup a bunch when I'm in the US for $2.50 each. I also have used Hyundai OEM filters on the CRX because they fit perfect and are of incredible quality.

Here are the two available Honda OEM filters:

This is the one you want: "A01" by Filtech:

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5086/...0bd5465d_b.jpg

This is the one you don't want: "A02" by Honeywell / Fram:

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5128/...44ac06a7b4.jpg



Fram "engineers" can argue cardboard vs metal until they're blue-in-the-face. Here's a Fram that was on a Dodge pickup for 3000 miles. Judge for yourself:

http://img145.imageshack.us/img145/4662/39378621.jpg
http://img839.imageshack.us/img839/2149/72019589.jpg
http://img703.imageshack.us/img703/5875/61437833.jpg
http://img222.imageshack.us/img222/5926/35968939.jpg

Now, check out this Bosch with metal endcaps:

http://img37.imageshack.us/img37/5340/51473967.jpg
http://img228.imageshack.us/img228/6676/18872108.jpg
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Old 17-Feb-2011, 05:38 PM
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Wow, lots of work put into this and I really appreciate that. I always paid top dollar for Fram as well. Screw that!
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Old 17-Feb-2011, 07:58 PM
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then what would you say with regards to
Mobil 1 oil filters then?
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Old 17-Feb-2011, 10:00 PM
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Honda 15400-PLM-A01 ("blue can" introduced in 2003)


Labeled "Filtech, Inc." It is made by Dana, which also makes Wix. Frankly, I was extremely impressed when I cracked the can. It has a very different filter media from the rest, which appears to be more of a synthetic weave than a treated paper. It had the most filter area of our sample set - by far - at 151 square inches, the result of deep pleating. Only negative I could find was metal-to-metal contact on the bypass valve, which risks undesired trickle of bypass. I have to mention the minor drawback of a stamped tension spring, but it's a really good one, made out of tempered spring steel and not just bent sheet metal.

This filter doesn't have traditional end caps. What it does have is a felt-like polyester material which seals the ends of the pleating enough to prevent bypass. The base gasket is special to Honda. It is a half-round design, with a flat surface against the baseplate but a curved surface against the block. Another unique feature is a semi-labyrinth seal between the anti-drainback valve and the filter core - best seal of the bunch.

This filter may be made by Filtech/Dana/Wix, but nothing about it resembles the off-the-shelf Wix. Consider it a completely custom design.

This is clearly the best filter of the lot by an immense margin. I sincerely hope that Honda is not planning on discontinuing this excellent design given the introduction of the next filter.

(Some of you might recall the "old old" Honda filter. It had a larger can and was made by Fram. It's been out of production since mid-2003 and I was unable to get a sample.)


Honda 15400-PLM-A02 (newest "blue can")

Labeled "Honeywell", which is the new owner of Fram. This filter embodies nearly everything that is bad about a Fram filter - cardboard end caps, a stamped "outie" nipple receptor (harder to "aim" and easier to crossthread), filter material that looks cheap, and spacer instead of a tension spring. It just appears cheap in nearly every construction detail. Only positive was a silicone anti-drainback valve.

This filter has 106 sq. in. of filter area, which is about 15 more than its Fram sibling. Bypass valve is hard plastic. This filter also has the custom Honda baseplate gasket, half-round instead of a standard rectangular cross-section.

Not recommended. To limit your exposure, do not exceed 5K oil change intervals if your dealer gives you no choice but to install this filter.

Advance Auto "totalgrip" AA7317

Made by Purolator, or the same OEM who makes Purolator. This is the same filter as the Purolator PureOne, except with a nitrile rubber anti-drainback valve, and adds a can coating of rubbery grip material. Best feature of this filter was the price: $2.50, half of the next least expensive. See PureOne comments for other details.

Conditionally recommended (see Purolator PureOne).

Purolator PureOne PL14610

This represents "the middle of the road" of the sample group. Filter cartridge construction is good quality, with metal end caps. Filter area is 108 sq. in. Stamped tension spring.

Bypass valve is an area of major concern. It uses a stamped, fingered spring design that doesn't appear to open very far. My perception is that this filter could be a very risky bet with extended oil change intervals. Clogged filter media would exercise the bypass valve, but I perceive the valve to be too restrictive, and would starve the engine of lubrication at high RPM.

Conditionally recommended, and then only because it's tied for #2 in the survey for total filter area. Do not use this filter if you are following the 10,000 mile oil change schedule.

Fram Extra Guard PH7317

The orange can.

Oh, where do I begin? Cardboard end caps, nitrile rubber anti-drainback valve, "outie" nipple receptor, 39 pleats (20% less than nearly every other filter), hard plastic bypass valve with little contact area (leak-prone), rubber-to-cardboard "seals", tensioner that's not a spring, just a spacer. In other words - and in my opinion - in every possible engineering decision between "a little better" and "cheap", the choice was "cheap". 91 square inches of filter surface.

I know that Fram has great marketing and that people still swear by the product. However, it did my heart good to cut this one apart, knowing that it will never live a single day of its life putting someone's engine at risk due to either internal collapse or constantly leaking dirty oil past the filter element.

Not recommended. Ever.

(PS - Keep an eye on this space. Fram's lawyers have harrassed previous reviewers attempting to get the word out; it seems that unless you hold a PhD in oil filter engineering and parse your words very carefully you are not permitted to comment on their product)

Bosch Premium 3323

This is a well-made filter using quality materials. Bypass valve is of excellent construction, with a rubber seal and coil-spring action with wide opening. Filter cartridge is of good construction, with metal end caps. Downsides of the Bosch are nitrile rubber anti-drainback valve and small filter area, 3rd from the bottom at 90 square inches. Tension spring is stamped metal; seems to be nicely "springy", but it could be better.

One area that got my attention was the extra-thick baseplate - roughly double the thickness of the others. Not quite sure what this accomplishes.

Recommended as a third choice, mindful of change intervals.


Mobil1 M1-110

This is the same filter as the Bosch, but with 20% less filter area, at a miniscule 72 square inches - the worst on our list. Only other difference is a silicone anti-drainback valve. This filter is of quality construction, but at less than half the filtering capacity of the Honda -A01, there is simply no reason to bother with it.

Not recommended, especially for $11!
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Old 17-Feb-2011, 10:14 PM
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i prefer my genuine ac delco filter for $3 i can't go wrong!
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Old 18-Feb-2011, 12:07 AM
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Well, Robb, you certainly did your homework on this.

Thanks very much for sharing the detailed description of each filter and it's components, and materials. I love looking deeper at the engineering behind any automotive component and this is no exception. To be honest, I've never given much thought into oil filters. They all look the same sitting on the shelf and I figured they'd all be of similar construction and materials as they all must have to meet specific regulations of some kind. I've used fram filters for well over 10 years now, and mostly in my civic which now has 260k and climbing. I've never had a problem, but that's not to say I never will... It seems I've been lucky. Especially since I've always used full synthetic oil and often go 10-15,000kms between oil changes.

I don't know where all you are getting your fram filters from, but I usually buy them from crapy tire and certainly don't pay a premium for them. Usually between $5-$8, about the middle of the field. I tend to avoid the cheapest filters and didn't think the expensive filters were worth it.

My next oil change interval is coming up soon. I'm going to cut that sucker open and I'll post up pics. If it looks anything like that filter off that dodge, I can say with certainty I will never use one of those filters again.

A few years ago I heard a few bad things about fram and the cardboard, but thought it was just a rumor ****** from some forum. Turns out this is true.

You can't argue with hard evidence and proof. Thanks again for posting this. Very informative and eye-opening. Much appreciated!

Last edited by MPR; 18-Feb-2011 at 12:12 AM.
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Old 18-Feb-2011, 08:12 AM
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Good info. Here's another good video to check out. Mind the guy's eloquent use of words, lol.


I'm personally using the K&N Gold oil filters. Does it help? Judging by the video and the design of the filter in comparison to others, it would be fair to say yes.
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Old 18-Feb-2011, 10:46 AM
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Im gonna be using the Bosch or Quaker state from now on. No more Honda OEM 'A02' !
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Old 18-Feb-2011, 12:33 PM
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That vid Kaval posted... Great vid. Shows you what's inside each filter. But that guy is HILARIOUS!!!! Lmao! It's worth it just to listen to his commentary! lol

After seeing that, I don't mind spending a couple extra dollars for a bosch or K&N.
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Old 18-Feb-2011, 02:25 PM
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Did some digging and found this thread: Fram @ 14K miles - cut open (pics) - Bob Is The Oil Guy

If you change your oil regularly, you shouldn't really have anything to worry about. But really, it comes down to what you're getting for your money. Bottom line, the fram filter still does it's job, it's just a low-quality filter made with low-quality materials. You're better off buying a higher-quality filter for the same price or less.

Just out of curiosity, has anyone actually seen or heard of a fram filter actually fail or cause a problem?
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Old 19-Feb-2011, 02:06 AM
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Now if anyone cant tell the difference in quality between the Fram and Amsoil, they need to get thier eyes checked !

CRAP !
Name:  FramPH8A.jpg
Views: 1598
Size:  50.4 KB


SWEETNESS !
Name:  AmsoilEaO15.jpg
Views: 1585
Size:  48.4 KB


Amsoil is my next oil filter I'm gonna stock up on !
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Old 19-Feb-2011, 07:12 PM
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Just today, did an oil change on my parent's 04 pontiac grand-prix. Decided to cut open the AC delco filter that was on it...

To my surprise, what do I find?

Paper end caps just like fram, and no by-pass valve. The element and end-caps came apart in my hands pretty easily. The center tube was a thin plastic matrix design instead of a perforated steel tube... Pretty cheap filter, imo...

I think there are more filter manufacturers using this same type of design than we think. And since this filter was for a pontiac, makes you wonder how many other filters for other vehicles out there are made like this...

Last edited by MPR; 19-Feb-2011 at 07:16 PM.
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Old 23-Apr-2011, 12:14 PM
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Great info! And damnit, I bought a whole bunch of A02s before reading this, although if Honda's newer oil service intervals are 8K and dealers are okay with this, perhaps the filters are good enough to meet warranty requirements regardless of their scary similarity to Fram oranges?

I also own a Nissan, and the Nissan oil filter for their VQ series engines fit Civics, TSXs and TLs too (they are like the PH7317 size). Has anyone tried another OEM filter? I still have a bunch of Made in Japan ones that I've never tried installing on my 05 Civic, but the newer Nissan oil filters are now made in China, and I'm not yet sure if they are the same quality or not (probably not).
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Old 23-Apr-2011, 04:08 PM
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The new oil filters barely meet regulations... LOL
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Old 23-Apr-2011, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Robb View Post
The new oil filters barely meet regulations... LOL
That's pretty sh!tty. I suspected no good when I noticed the Honeywell name on the filters actually; I just didn't think that the insides would be just like a Fram. I always believed OEM was good, but maybe not anymore in such a competitive Parts market where revenues matter more than quality. The kicker is that it's $10 before taxes for one at the stealership if you're just a lowly walk-in customer, and then the guys try to sneak in a $1.50 drain plug gasket.

Nice CRX Robb! A little pocket rocket that's a classic.

What oil filter do you personally use for your Hondas, or what do you recommend as the best alternative???
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Old 23-Apr-2011, 05:17 PM
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My mechanic who I go to when a repair is beyond my skills installs Defense oil filters by Honeywell. I feel sorry for his unknowing customers' cars. I think those Defense filters are even worse, and probably only costs indie shops $2 a pop. They used to sell them years ago at WalMart.
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Old 23-Apr-2011, 08:59 PM
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Thanks. Im using the Napa Gold filters.
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Old 23-Apr-2011, 11:19 PM
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i just used mobil 1 oil filters

now im trying K&N
everythings looking good so far
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Old 11-Jun-2011, 05:59 PM
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Great thread, yeah I just got screwed. Was at Honda picking up oil pan crush washers, while I was there, figured I would grab a filter. I even asked what kind they were, they said Fram. I looked at it, and noticed the gasket was very small (half round) instead of flat, and what looked like rust on the top. $7.45. I still bought the damn thing, thinking I would save an extra trip, plus it must be fine if that's what they stock for OEM. Well I just put it in, hand-tightened it to close to 3/4 tight, and the friggin thing bottoms out, metal-to-metal. Well, I didn't like the feel of that. Come back inside, check out some threads, and my invoice. I have a A02 filter on my car now. Son of a. Needless to say, I don't have much confidence in it, and I'm pretty pissed.
I usually buy Carquest premium (Wix) or Napa Gold (Wix).

Once this one is finished, I'm going to cut it open, and see what I find.

Last edited by Coupe; 11-Jun-2011 at 06:06 PM.
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Old 11-Jun-2011, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by MPR View Post
Just today, did an oil change on my parent's 04 pontiac grand-prix. Decided to cut open the AC delco filter that was on it...

To my surprise, what do I find?

Paper end caps just like fram, and no by-pass valve. The element and end-caps came apart in my hands pretty easily. The center tube was a thin plastic matrix design instead of a perforated steel tube... Pretty cheap filter, imo...

I think there are more filter manufacturers using this same type of design than we think. And since this filter was for a pontiac, makes you wonder how many other filters for other vehicles out there are made like this...
Yeah, I was big into GM a while back, and AC Delco switched how they made the oil filter, around 08-09? They used to be the best, but now nobody in many GM car clubs use them.
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