Choosing The Right Oil Filter

Comparing the FRAM® HP1 to the popular PH8A.


    If you're already running, or planning to run a full-flow oil system on your VW, utilizing a spin-on filter, you need to be aware of some of the differences in your choices.  Most folks who use an aftermarket spin-on adapter use a FRAM® filter or other equivalent brand since they are available everywhere.  Most may have been warned NOT to use the FRAM PH8A because "it might blow out", or you've been told a tenth-hand story of how one blew out on Billy-Bobs single-cab last winter, but yet you still run one because, they are CHEAP.  I've been there and I've done it, 'cause I know the pain of shelling out between $10 & $15 for the HP1 when there is an "equal looking" PH8A sitting right below it for $2.50.  You may think, they look the same, surely they must be and the price difference must just be for the fancier box, the cool silver stripes on the filter and of course, just for price gouging the rich, racing crowd.  Well to that I say WRONG!!!

    The PH8A is a fine filter for a Ford or Mercury, but it has NO PLACE in a FF oil system on your VW.  I've taken some comparison shots of just the obvious thing different and have them below for you to draw your own conclusions and decide for yourself.

fram-compare1.jpg (27450 bytes)

    Here is a side by side comparison of a PH8A (left) and the HP1 (right).  Note that the HP1 is a full 1/2" taller so without even knowing the internal differences, it already has approx. 15% more area in which to filter your oil.  

fram-casing.jpg (21228 bytes)

    Next, note the difference in the casing thicknesses between the HP1 (left) and the PH8A (right).  Since I'm NOT going to cut a new HP1 to see the actual cross section, you will have to just notice how much thicker the crimp on the top of the HP1 is compared to the PH8A.  Plus, the weight difference between the two filters is quite noticeable too.  The thicker casing on the HP1 will NOT blow out or deform like the PH8A's casing will.  

fram-bulging.jpg (42021 bytes)

    This used PH8A was (I hate to admit it) used on my motor that's on my engine build-up pages.  Note the black grip-paint flaked away from the bottom 1/2".  This was because the high pressure right off the pump on cool mornings, caused the oil filter to actually bulge OUT the knurls that the oil filler wrench fit into!!  I figure I was only a few PSI from a big mess and a disaster.  I'm just glad that I live in a mild climate in the winter where the temps don't normally get much below 40 deg. F or that thing could have blown out.  Gene Berg recorded oil pressures right off the pump at over 250 PSI(!) on cold engines during his years of research.  Don't even think that a PH8A will stand up to that.

fram-compare2.jpg (44077 bytes)

   Finally, if this doesn't change your mind about using the HP1 instead of the PH8A then probably nothing will.  Note the differences in the oil holes between the PH8A (left) and the HP1 (right).  They each have 8 holes, but the PH8A has tiny 3/16" holes where the HP1 has monster 5/16" holes making for a WAY higher flowing filter.  You wouldn't want your engine to starve for oil would you??

   Like I mentioned before, I don't know what the INTERNAL differences are between the two so if you just had to know , I would recommend calling FRAM® and asking the experts. 

   The HP1 is a much more expensive filter, but the quality and construction make it the ideal, worry-free spin-on replacement for your FF system.  DON'T SKIMP ON YOUR FILTER.  YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!!  You may be able to get a deal on them if you buy a case of 6 at a time.  That's what I did and saved a bundle!!


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Revised: August 27, 2003 .