If you’ve been to a Carquest or Advanced Auto recently, you may have noticed something much different about their oil section. More specifically, the part of the oil shelves where the Carquest in-house brand of oil used to sit. That’s all gone now, replaced by none other than “Fram” oil containers. If you are about as confused as we were when we first saw this, well you’re not alone.
I mean, we never found anything wrong with Carquest oil before, it was decent oil. I suppose that Advance Auto just thought that the brand name wasn’t recognized enough to be as popular as they want it to be.
So Who Actually Makes Fram Oil?
Could it be that Fram oil is distributed by the usual inexpensive oil suspects at Warren Oil Company? This is what we had originally thought, but as it turns out, “Fram oil” is not the same as Amazon Basics, STP and SuperTech oil (which varies depending on region.)
Some eagle-eyed readers of Bob Is The Oil Guy have trainspotted the shapes of the containers and found them to be exactly the same as the old Carquest ones. This means that the oil is very likely to be the same formula and ingredients that it was before, with just a new label slapped on it. Carquest oil was packaged and distributed by Amalie, and with them reusing the same containers, we would assume with high confidence that the new Fram oil is the exact same stuff.
Is Fram Motor Oil Any Good?
We would for sure be comfortable running this oil in any of our daily drivers, however it may not be the best choice for say a picky european car that specs a certain caliber of oil.
Amalie uses 100% synthetic base stock along with their special blend of herbs and spices additive packs in their oils. They meet the minimum requirements to comply with API SP, SN PLUS/SN, and ILSAC GF-6. They claim to exceed the TEOST MHT (Thermal Engine Oil Stability Test) and meet the Ford M2C 930-A spec, which supersedes the old M2C153-H specification. Dexos 2 is covered as well, on the bottles that specify it.
They also say that it is a low-phosphorous oil, which will help protect your expensive catalytic converter. However, if you’re planning to use this in an ancient engine with flat tappets, you’ll definitely want to add a zinc additive.
What Additives Are In Fram Oil?
Amalie seems to be on top of which additives they use in their formulas. They have made sure to include a shear stable viscosity modifier, along with additives to protect your engine from LSPI (low-speed pre-ignition) which is of high concern with today’s tight engine tolerances.
They say that the additives and synthetic base stock that they use are specifically formulated to deal with the harsh environment of newer turbo and GDI (gasoline direct injection) engines.
To read more, check out this TDS (technical data sheet) that they have provided.
Who Owns The Fram Brand Now?
This is where things get interesting. The Fram brand has been gobbled up by a huge automotive conglomerate, which of course is just the regular ol’ American dream nowadays. An extremely common story for these big corporations; buy familiar brands and run the name recognition game for everything it’s worth, until it’s not.
First Brands is the one running the Fram name now. First Brands themselves have been rebranded, they used to be Trico.
First Brands also owns Champion, Raybestos, AutoLite, Carter, Centric and I believe STP. This is just a list of the ones that I am aware of, I’m sure there are many more brands that they have bought. I am quite sure that they will most certainly uphold the highest level of quality for all of these various automotive brands, and will most definitely not siphon them from the inside for profits. Ahem, excuse me! I misspoke there, of course I meant to say “optimize vertically for maximum efficiency.”
Should you use Fram oil? I can say that I would have no problem running this oil in most of the cars in my fleet, save from the picky european cars that I torture myself by owning.
The main deciding factor for me to buy this oil would be if there was an attractive sale that I just couldn’t pass up. Maybe an oil change combo that comes with the filter. Otherwise, I would just go right to the source and buy Amalie Elixir directly.
Hope this has been helpful, feel free to drop us a comment below with any other questions (or inside information about the oil industry) that you may have. Thanks for reading!
Doug is our resident mechanic and automotive expert. With over 20 years of wrenching under his belt, he is our go-to for any question we have about additives and cars.
15 thoughts on “Fram Now Makes Oil! Or So They Would Have You Believe…”
If you want to know who makes it… since it’s not a speciality oil. Do an oil sample and send it off to an Oil Analysis Lab. The signature of the additive pack will most likely point you to the manufacturer.
Oh great idea JW, that’s an excellent way to know for sure.
“Suitable for most recent ACEA applications” ???? Yeah well. I would interpret that to mean A1/B1.
My Family has owned a CarQuest store for 30 years, same oil we sold 1000’s of gallons of in the CarQuest bottle but it now says Fram. My problem is about 30% of our customers run from the Fram name. Several shops stopped buying from us because they don’t want their customers to see the Fram name in the building. I think it was a bad move for AAP/CarQuest but thats my 2 cents worth.
After working with carquest/ advance auto I can see where that would be an issue, almost want to go back and work with the company great place to work.
I have to agree 100 % . My father in law would swear by carquest filters and oil . If he was still around and I showed up with the fram oil and filters he would have a fit .
I worked for Trico for about a year. I have never seen a better example of a slumlord. The owner’s business model is to siphon cash out of a business and deliver the least possible product the customer will tolerate. I would be highly suspect of the integrity of any product produced by First Brands as I know they have no desire to maintain quality.
Thanks for sharing your experience Darrell, it’s always good to get an inside scoop on these things. Unfortunately, degrading quality to chase profits seems to be a common story when automotive brands are gobbled up by conglomerates.
I have an ‘08 Chevy Impala, 107,000 on a 3.9 L what would you recommend I use , next oil change ??
For your Impala I would use Fram 5w-30 synthetic in your next oil change. I’m showing that your car takes 4 quarts, unless it is a retired police interceptor, in which case you need to use 5.1 quarts because of the extended oil capacity.
I currently drive an ’09 Buick Lucerne CXL that I really like with 128K miles. I have used store brands extensively & now use High Mileage oil. I topped off with a FRAM 5w30 just before a trip because I have trusted Advance Auto for many years. I hope I am still justified to maintain this same trust.
I would have no concerns running fram oil in your Buick. It can handle everything that engine needs, they’re very stout engines as long as you take care of the weak points – such as the coolant elbows and intake manifold gaskets.
One time I used supertech, which is a walmart rebrand oil of warren oil I think, the thing is that I started to feel hard starts with my toyota corolla 2006 in which I have been using mobil 1 5w30 high mileage and Denso Oil filter with no issues. As I can read on the post, is warren oil that make supertech, stp and fram oil, well is the same, the main issue with supertech I think the high mileage is just TOO THICK, and the oil engine pump and oil filter is not pumping and letting the oil go through that fast to irrigate the engine in a repeating process. I am not saying is good or bad oil.
Those are some interesting results from changing oil brands. As it turns out, Fram oil is not made by Warren, it’s actually made by Amalie.
Did you change filter brands at the same time as well?
It’s difficult to say whether or not the oil has made a difference in starting, for something like that sort of issue I would take a look at the fuel trims and how the car is running overall. One of the biggest causes of hard starts on an older car like that is either ignition related, or possibly a gunked up throttle body.
I wish you luck, and let us know if you switch oils and it resolves the issue!
Doug, any concerns running Fram 0W30 on BMW i3 REX or should I stick better with the original BMW oil?