FRAM Filters Informative - FRAM filters are still poorly made
I had not used a FRAM oil filter since the mid-1970s, when a friend's Chevelle SS motor seized after a FRAM filter separated at a seam and drained every ounce of oil in a second or two at 70mph. Another buddy of mine spent several hours trying to remove a FRAM filter after the cannister separated from the base of the filter, leaving nothing to 'grab' when trying to remove the old filter.
Three months ago, I changed my oil. My local NAPA store was out of stock on both the NAPA Gold and K&N filters for my vehicle. I reluctantly went to Wal-Mart, where I found a solid wall of FRAM filters. "Get-done-itis" infected me and, despite the warning bells in the back of my head, I purchased a FRAM 'premium' oil filter and went home and did the oil change.
Yesterday, I bought my oil and a NAPA Gold filter. I set to work on changing the oil for cold weather. Normally, I can twist off the old filter with a solid, two-hand grip on it. The FRAM would not budge. I fitted a spiral-type filter wench onto my torque wrench and tried to remove the filter. At around 15-20ft-lbs of torque, the FRAM filter collapsed. It looked like a 'wrung-out' beer can. I used a band-type filter wrench at the top of the cannister and was able to rock the filter loose. I thought it odd, as I am careful to never over-tighten the filters. I wiped the gasket seat down, applied oil to the new filter gasket, spun it down, and tightened it 3/4 of a turn. I re-filled the crankcase with oil.
I always leak check after doing an oil change. I started the vehicle. The oil pressure climbed to about 60psi when there was a gurgling under the engine. I immediately shut down the engine and looked underneath. About 3qts of oil was underneath (it took only about 2-seconds to blow out this much!!). The drain plug was properly torqued, so I pulled off the new filter. I heard a 'plop' of something falling into the drain pan. It was a 1-inch long piece of the FRAM gasket which had stuck to the filter mount where it could not be seen. Had I done what many drivers would have done and simply driven off without checking for a leak, my engine could have been toast by the end of the block.
FRAM has not improved in over thirty years. Their cannisters are very thin (aluminum?) compared to thicker steel used in more expensive filters. Their gaskets are flimsy, stick to mounts, and tear easily. I will never buy another FRAM filter. Wix (NAPA) and K&N are made of far heavier materials and I've never had a gasket stick to the mount. (DIYSers...cut open a FRAM and another brand and compare them. You'd never buy another FRAM filter. My parts guy showed me one today. WOW!)
Finally, for those who change their own oil...always look underneath before you drive. It's a pretty good idea even if you let someone else change the oil to do your own check for leaks and be sure the tech actually put oil back after draining it!