5 Common Fram Oil Filter Problems (Explained)

Oil filters keep the engine clean by ensuring contaminants from fuel, metal particles or dirt don’t invade the engine chambers.

Without a filter, these contaminants can wear your engine surfaces and cause it to malfunction. And if there is one thing all car owners can agree on when servicing their vehicles is that we pay more attention to the oil we use more than the filter.

You need to understand the critical role of oil filters in preserving the proper functioning of our car engines.

The quality of an oil filter heavily depends on the brand you get it from. There are many oil filter brands in the market and today, we are going to focus on Fram oil filters.

If you look around, Fram has been listed amongst the worst oil filter brands to avoid. Several websites have done so and if you seek the opinions of a couple of professional mechanics, they definitely will tell you the same.

Other than having a reputation for making inferior oil filters, Fram, in general, receives many negative reviews. For instance, their oil filters have been criticized heavily for having an inferior construction that is not resilient to dirt.

This is just one of the many problems that Fram oil filters have. Below we are going to look at some of the common issues that have been reported against Fram oil filters so that you can decide whether they are the right brand for you.

Before we list the problems that Fram oil filters have, there is one issue we have to address. Many car owners make the mistake of buying an oil filter just because it’s the cheapest.

With car products, you get what you pay for. If you opt for a cheaper air filter, then expect sub-par services which may lead to huge problems later on that can be quite costly. Let’s dive into the common Fram oil filter problems.

fram oil filter problems
“DSCN1883” by Greg Gjerdingen, Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0

1. They Sell Defective Oil Filters

There have been a couple of complaints that Fram packages and distributes defective oil filters. That is, their oil filters are defective as soon as they come right off the box.

This is very dangerous because a defective oil filter will give dirt direct entry into your engine. And with days, your engine can suffer a huge blow leading to expensive repair costs.

2. Initially, their Oil Filters Come without a Drain Back Valve

The team that creates Fram oil filters is either inexperienced or simply does not care about their reputation. There have been complaints in the past that their oil filters lack a drain-back valve.

The role of this valve is to prevent oil from flowing back. When you use such a filter, your engine will always have a dry start.

And as you know, mechanical parts require oil because the results of the friction between metals can have adverse effects. Is it worth risking cranking an engine with no oil just because you want to save on an oil filter?

And even if you get a filter with a valve, Fram doesn’t use a spring to enhance its function. They use a cheap stamped metal instead.

3. Fram Oil Filters have a Thin Media

The filter media is the part that separates the substance being filtered and the unwanted particles.

It goes without saying, a good oil filter should have an adequately sized filter media so that particles can’t find their way into the engine.

Fram has ultra-thin filter media. And as you may have guessed, the thin media is incapable of holding dirt and other fine impurities from entering your car engine.

And as if the thinness isn’t enough, Fram oil filters are made of poor quality paper resins that aren’t even allowed to cure properly.

4. The Construction Build is Very Inferior

If you hand the Fram oil filter to an expert mechanic, they will point out so many faults with this product. First, they use cardboards as end caps, these can’t last very long.

Secondly, the seam of the media lacks a metal clip to prevent it from splitting open. If this should happen to your Fram oil filter, impurities and contaminants will easily flow inside your engine.

5. Fram Oil Filters aren’t Compatible with High Flow Oil Pumps

There are car brands such as Audi that feature very high flow pumps. If you happen to have an oil filter such as Fram, it won’t be able to accommodate that heavy flow of oil.

Who Makes These Filters?

After reading the above, it doesn’t come as a surprise that you would like to know who makes these filters. Well, initially, Fram oil filters were made by a division of Allied Signal which was later acquired in 2011 by Honeywell.

What are the Experiences People Have Had with Fram Oil Filters?

After going through comments on various forums, people have undergone varying experiences with this filter and most of them are negative.

To kick things off, Fram oil filters have had a bad reputation for a while, therefore not many people use or recommend them. Those who still do, either don’t know about this company’s reputation or prefer to use an affordable filter.

However, you need to know that regarding oil filters and other accessories, it’s more of a preference on which brand you should use.

There are people who have been using Fram filters for years and they haven’t had any bad experiences.

At the same time, some swear not to use Fram oil filters because of the damage they caused to their vehicles. Before you make a choice, research is important. This will help you identify which filter brand is ideal for you.

Why Do Fram Oil Filters Cause Tapping at Startup?

There are a couple of things that cause tapping noises when you start an engine. It could be damaged parts, excessive valve lash, or low oil pressure.

Referring back to the above problems of Fram oil filters, especially the one where some of their filters lack a drain back valve, this problem could be what’s causing your engine to make tapping noises upon start-up.

Not unless your engine’s oil levels are low, replacing the Fram oil filter with a more superior brand could put a stop to this issue.

Has Fram Ever Led to Engine Damage?

If an oil filter lets impurities into your engine, the parts are going to be worn out after a while. And what comes after that is massive engine damage.

There have been complaints amongst car owners that their engines suffered a significant amount of damage only when they had Fram oil filters. We however can’t rely on such allegations because they lack tangible proof.

What we do know for a fact is that Fram oil filters are of low quality and you are better off using other brands.

Are There Other Oil Filter Brands that I Should Avoid?

Fram isn’t the only oil filter company you should avoid but there are several more. They include;

  • Astrofilters – These have a cheap quality and design. They are often very bulky and don’t easily fit most engine compartments.


  • Bosch – They can last for a couple of miles but their biggest downside is that they don’t efficiently prevent impurities from getting into the engine.


  • Motorcraft – Their flow rate is far from impressive.


  • Supertech – There is nothing super about these low-quality air filters. They have the same elements as Fram.

Which Brands are Better?

Now that you know Fram oil filters aren’t ideal for use on your car, as well as the brands we have listed above. So, which companies should you go for when looking for an oil filter?

There are several good oil filter brands, examples include;

  • Hastings and Napa Gold – Without a doubt, this is one of the best oil filter brands you can ever get your hands on. They are made using quality materials, have a significantly sized oil filter media and though expensive, they last longer than Fram.


  • Royal Purple – Other than being made by a reputable brand, oil filters from this company are ideal for all types of engines.

What Makes a Good Oil Filter?

If we decide to compare all oil filter brands, we will spend days listing the pros and cons of each. That’s why we decided to share with you tips on how to identify a quality oil filter.

Using this information, you can easily determine whether an oil filter is right for you or not. Before we can list these features, you should know that Fram isn’t such a terrible oil filter.

Some car owners have used this brand for years and haven’t had negative experiences. However, reputation and quality matter a lot when buying an oil filter.

You’d rather go with an expensive option but get better quality and premium filtration than a cheaper filter and put your engine at risk.

What should I look for in an oil filter?

  • A good oil filter should have a bigger filter media. This ensures that the filtration levels provided are higher. A thin media will easily let contaminants flow.


  • It is a must for an oil filter to have an anti-drain back valve. This feature ensures that oil doesn’t drain from the motor when the car stops running. Therefore, when you crank the engine, it won’t experience a dry start.


  • Finally, a good oil filter should last up to 10,000 miles.