Even though their dominance is dwindling, internal combustion engines are still used to power the vast majority of cars. Large quantities of air are required for the combustion process and efficient operation in any engine that generates power by burning fuel.
When the car is driven normally, the engine consumes anywhere from 150 to 400 cubic meters of air each hour. However, that air contains abrasive particulate matter that can speed up engine wear and lead to early failure of components like bearings, cylinder walls, and piston rings. Vehicles use engine air filters to remove debris and dirt from the air before it may damage the engine.
With today’s electronic fuel injection systems, the old adage that dirty air filters reduce efficiency is no longer valid. This, however, does not negate the need to replace the engine air filter when it has served its purpose.
In this article, we’ll set the record straight on the function, construction, replacement frequency, and cost-savings potential of replacing your own engine air filter.
Top 10 Car Air filter Consumer Reports: Editor Recommended
The 10 Best Car Air filter Consumer Reports Review:
1. K&N Engine Air Filter High Performance
- ENGINEERED POWER: State-of-the-art air filter media is designed to increase...
- RUGGED CONSTRUCTION: K&N Air Filters are manufactured with durable, premium...
- 4 LAYERS OF PROTECTION: Multiple layers of premium cotton gauze treated with a...
- CLEAN ONCE EVERY 5 YEARS: Engine air filter only needs cleaning every 75,000...
- ULTIMATE LONGEVITY: No-hassle lifetime warranty on stock replacement K&N air...
The idea for K&N Air Filters originated in 1969 from the chagrin of two motorcycle racers who were dissatisfied with the available options for particle filtration. Since then, the majority of the aftermarket has adopted its washable oiled cotton filter. Most aftermarket air filters boast improved performance and fuel economy and some even throw in free advertising stickers.
Gains in performance will be negligible at best, requiring ultra-precise instruments to detect. Small particles will adhere to the oiled filtering material, resulting in slightly improved filtration efficacy, and you’ll only need to buy one filter for the life of your vehicle. Instead of tossing away a used paper filter, simply remove the K&N, spray it down with cleanser, hose it off, and re-oil it.
There are a number of similar oiled media filters available, but we recommend going with the pioneer in this field, who has invested countless man-hours and dollars into perfecting their product over the past fifty years. Numerous studies refute the common belief that mass airflow sensors are damaged by oiled filters.
- Million-mile warranty means it’s a lifetime purchase for your car
- With tens of thousands of applications, K&N has filters for almost all cars built
- Easily washable filter is better for the environment
- Oiled filter catches small particles a paper filter may not
- Upfront purchase price is significantly higher than paper
- Your required fit probably won’t be on the shelf at your local parts store
2. Bosch Workshop Air Filter 5123WS
- Protects your engine by stopping 98% of engine-threatening particles
- Prevention of unfiltered air entering engine intake with a high-quality seal
- Engineered with high-quality materials for flawless operation over the entire...
Bosch’s Workshop air filter is the ideal option if you need a replacement for the paper filter that came with your vehicle from the factory. It’s a known fact that some car lots will try to pin any malfunction on aftermarket components, regardless of their relevance.
If you happen to shop at one of these stores, it’s probably best to stick with OEM-level filters or at least those that get as close as feasible to them. Bosch provides high-quality, seemingly benign pleated paper without requiring you to pay any more to the dealership.
One of these might already be installed in your car’s air filter if you drive a German-made vehicle. However, if you want a more minimal look, you may still obtain the same high-quality polyurethane frame. In spite of the fact that this is an improvement over the filter that came with your automobile, you should still replace it at the interval suggested by the manufacturer.
- One of the leading parts manufacturers assures a good fit
- Seal is made of polyurethane to stop leaks
- Minimized frame design maximizes filtration area
- Only warrantied for the car’s original air filter service interval
- One-time use, then throw away
3. AEM 28-20385 DryFlow Air Filter
- DryFlow Air Filter
Some motorists choose not to re-oil their filters after washing them because of the extra work involved. In order to reduce maintenance time, AEM designed DryFlow Filters that can be cleaned by just washing them. Filter cleaner spray will still be a necessity, but users won’t have to use it as often. AEM asserts that their filters can go 50,000 miles before they need to be cleaned.
Obviously, the kinds of environments in which you typically drive and the nature of your driving are relevant to the fine print. There is some speculation that every 10,000 miles is a decent service interval for vehicles that only need oil changes.
The filter’s frame and seal are both made of molded rubber, making it similar to other aftermarket filters. These last much longer than the foam frames on most inexpensive paper filters in terms of maintaining a tight seal. But the tolerances are tighter, which can make the installation process more challenging than usual.
- Lifetime filter for car owners who don’t want to have to deal with oiling after every cleaning
- Lifetime warranty
- Made in the USA
- Dry filters aren’t as likely to capture particulates through interception and diffusion methods
- AEM is more expensive than competitors in some applications
4. BMC Carbon Racing Filter for Lamborghini Gallardo
- R8 5.2 V10 quattro / r-tronic (HP: 525 | Year: 09 >)
- R8 5.2 V10 quattro r-tronic GT (HP: 560 | Year: 10 >)
- GALLARDO LP570-4 SUPERLEGGERA (HP: 570 | Year: )
- GALLARDO SPYDER LP550-2 (HP: 550 | Year: 11 > )
- GALLARDO SPYDER LP560-4 (HP: 560 | Year: 08 > )
Parts for exotic cars are expensive and hard to come by. You may think it’s wasteful to spend $70 on a reusable air filter and service kit instead of $10 on a paper filter, but Lamborghini owners often question whether or not a car item that costs merely $800 is indeed of high quality.
In comparison to K&N, whose filters are made from oil-impregnated paper, BMC’s carbon fiber components are used extensively. Bologna, Italy, the mecca for high-performance automobiles, is also home to BMC’s headquarters. Fast filters that carefully curate what your exotic engine inhales are the work of skilled artisans who, from the engineer dreaming up new performance goods to the tech packing filters to be sent out to clients, are fueled by the world’s best cuisine.
BMC really does provide an excellent oiled cotton filter. Although the sticker price on a few apps may be higher than that of the competition, you won’t be let down by the product’s quality or functionality.
- Exotic car owners clearly have a lot of disposable income, so purchasing expensive parts helps subsidize the industry for normal car drivers
- Looks awesome and adds cool noises
- Manufacturer is very proud of the environmental benefits of air filters for super cars
- Nothing in the kit is gold plated
- Only a two-year warranty, but who keeps an exotic longer than that
5. FRAM CA8755A Extra Guard Flexible Panel Air Filter
- VEHICLE APPLICATIONS: Cadillac (Escalade 5.3L, 6.0L, 6.2L) & Chevrolet...
- ADDITIONAL APPLICATIONS: Fits these GMC model families (Sierra & Yukon 4.3L,...
- DOUBLE MAXIMUM PROTECTION: FRAM automotive replacement engine filter provides 2x...
- TRAPS DIRT AND FILTH: Various damaging particles and dust can collect over your...
- EASY INSTALLATION: A seamless DIY replacement that can be completed in minutes....
If you are looking for a filter that offers the best value for your money, you should consider a FRAM filter. They are not only very inexpensive, but also provide consistent functionality and performance.
They allow a great deal of airflow, and since there are many different types of filters, you should be able to find one that works with your car. Furthermore, FRAM has the filter you need, whether it’s a high-performance beast or a durable replacement for your vehicle’s current air filter.
Though they don’t carry a wide selection of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) filters, FRAM does offer a wide variety of aftermarket filters designed for a variety of vehicles, as well as universal filters that should fit most any vehicle. On the other hand, unless you cross-reference it with the OEM filter number, you shouldn’t assume that it will be an exact fit.
However, FRAM filters easily won the top spot because of their low cost and wide variety of applications. See if they have what you need for your car, and you just might find it there!
- Affordably priced
- Reliable performance
- Good airflow
- Outstanding selection
- Not many OEM options
6. EPAuto GP741 (CA10741) Replacement for Lexus
- Helps extend performance. Protect against dirt.
- Improve fuel millage, Recommended replacement every 12,000 miles
- Replacement for FRAM CA10741, Toyota Genuine part# 17801-37020, 17801-37021
- Compatible Auto List: Ford: Lexus: CT200h (2011-2017), NX300h (2015-2021);...
- Companion Cabin Air Filter: CP285 (CF10285)
EPAuto offers a variety of high-quality options for those who are on a tight budget but yet want to keep their cars running smoothly. Even though they are inexpensive air filters, they come in a wide variety and work as promised.
The fact that they are cheap air filters is obvious in two ways. The first problem is that they restrict airflow to your engine. Although they do a fantastic job of keeping debris out of your engine, where it belongs, filters also have a negative effect on your vehicle’s overall performance.
EPAuto has excellent options if you’re shopping on a small budget but still want a high-quality air filter for your car. They are cheap air filters, to be sure, but they come in a wide variety and do the job well.
The fact that they are cheap air filters is obvious in two ways. In the first place, they don’t exactly promote optimal airflow to your engine. While they do a fantastic job of keeping debris out of your engine, where it belongs, filters also have a negative effect on your vehicle’s overall performance.
- Affordably priced
- Reliable performance
- Large selection
- Not the best airflow
- It doesn’t last very long
7. Motorcraft – Element Asy Air Cleaner
- Package Dimensions: 15.75 L x 23.37 H x 16.26 W (centimeters)
- Package Weight : 14.4 ounces
- Fit type: Vehicle Specific
- Country of Origin : United States
In most cases, knowing whether or not you drive a Ford will suffice to determine whether or not you need a Motorcraft air filter. Because Motorcraft is a Ford-exclusive brand, their air filters can be used in any Ford on the road.
But if your car isn’t a Ford, Motorcraft probably doesn’t make the filter you need, and it’s probably not the best choice for your ride anyhow. The filters sold by Motorcraft are OEM replacements because the company is a Ford subsidiary.
If your car is still under warranty, this is the ideal option because it is a tried-and-true product that won’t void your coverage. This is because they are Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) replacement components for Ford cars, which means they cost a little more than equivalent aftermarket parts.
Additionally, if you’re trying to upgrade your vehicle to the next level with a performance air filter, you won’t find what you’re searching for at Motorcraft. Additionally, they lack a basic filter setting. Instead, they only provide a single original equipment manufacturer (OEM) air filter for each vehicle model.
As far as functionality and performance go, it’s on par with what you’d get straight from the factory, but you won’t be able to make any changes or add any new features.
- Very effective and reliable
- OEM replacement part (Ford only)
- Vehicle specific parts (Ford only)
- Slightly more expensive
- Only offers Ford specific filters
8. ACDelco GM Original Equipment A3202C Air Filter
- Some ACDelco GM Original Equipment parts may have formerly appeared as GM...
- ACDelco GM Original Equipment parts are designed, engineered and tested to...
- GM Engineers design and validate OE parts specifically for your Chevrolet,...
- GM regularly updates production and service part designs to integrate new...
ACDelco produces OEM replacement air filters for GM vehicles, same as Motorcraft does for Fords. All the Chevrolets, Buicks, GMCs, Cadillacs, and Pontiacs are included! Simply put, if you drive a General Motors car, and that vehicle employs ACDelco filters, then ACDelco makes a filter for your vehicle.
They are designed specifically for your car, so you can rest assured that you’ll always enjoy the same great performance that came with your car when you first drove it. However, not every vehicle has as many options as others when it comes to OEM replacement parts.
To sum up, ACDelco is not the brand to go with if you need a low-cost option that lasts or a high-performance one that doesn’t break the bank. However, ACDelco is a great option if you need a dependable air filter for your General Motors car.
But, like most original equipment manufacturer (OEM) replacement components, they are a tad more expensive than a comparable aftermarket option and don’t last quite as long. However, ACDelco is the way to go if your GM car is still under warranty or if you prefer to use factory-original equipment (OEM) parts.
- Vehicle specific parts (GM only)
- OEM replacement part (GM only)
- Very effective and reliable
- Slightly more expensive
- Not the longest-lasting
9. Wix Air Filter Panel – 49009
- Package Dimensions: 6.604 cms (L) x 19.304 cms (W) x 33.02 cms (H)
- Product Type: Engine Air Filter
- Package Quantity: 1
- Country Of Origin: China
WIX is a well-known brand in the market for air filters, so naturally they have a wide variety of options. It’s not only that they stock a wide variety of alternatives that work with a wide variety of automobiles; they also stock a variety of filtration levels for those vehicles.
WIX provides a variety of filter options to help you find exactly what you’re looking for, whether that’s the cheapest, most durable, or something else entirely. Priced competitively with other filters of similar quality, all of their options give more than enough airflow and protection for your engine.
WIX is a filter manufacturer worth looking into if you need industrial equipment, since they produce air filters for heavy machinery and larger cars.
However, you can’t always locate a vehicle-specific filter to fit your car, and they don’t last as long as others unless you pay a little extra for one of their long-lasting models. But if you need an air filter on a huge scale at a reasonable price, they have a product you can count on, mile after mile.
- Large selection
- Provides great airflow
- Affordably priced
- Not always vehicle specific
- Not the longest-lasting
10. Spectre Essentials Engine Air Filter
- SEE PRODUCT DESCRIPITON FOR FULL LIST OF COMPATIBLE VEHICLES
- LESS MAINTENANCE: 18,000 mile change interval lasts longer than stock engine air...
- 50% LONGER LIFE: High-Capacity filter technology traps more dirt and debris in...
- OVER 99% EFFICIENCY: Premium Engine Protection: Dirty, clogged, or ineffiecient...
- SAVE $50: Over the life of your vehicle
If you’re looking for a high-quality air filter at a reasonable price or a budget-friendly alternative that still does a good job, remember the name Spectre Essentials. In addition to providing cheap air filters, they also have a longer service life, which more than makes up for the initial investment.
While they don’t have a huge inventory, especially when it comes to alternatives for your specific make and model of car, they do sell universal air filters that can be used in any vehicle. To further enhance performance, you can upgrade to one of their performance air filters for a little fee.
Although it’s an improvement over the stock air filter, it can’t compare to the performance gains you’d get with a K&N filter. While they do offer reusable solutions, they often don’t hold up as well as the K&N alternatives.
It’s possible that with proper care and maintenance it might last the lifetime of your vehicle, but it’s also possible that you’ll need to replace it sometime around 100,000 miles. However, a Spectre Essentials air filter doesn’t cost anything near as much as a K&N air filter, and it doesn’t work quite as well.
You should check out Spectre Essentials before deciding on an air filter since you might be pleasantly pleased.
- Both affordable and premium options
- Longer lasting life
- They have universal options
- Limited selection
- Not as good as K&N
Buying Guide: What to Consider When Select a Car Air filter
Filter media can be made from a variety of different things, either individually or in different combinations. Some typical types of filter media are listed below.
Cellulose, the fibrous material that makes up the tough exterior of plant cells and from which most paper is manufactured, is by far the most often used filter material. Air filter media made of cellulose is essentially a specialty paper that traps dust and other particles in the air as it passes through. Cellulose is often combined with nanofibers or another substance to increase its efficiency.
Cotton is also commonly used in high-performance air filters for engines, such as those made by K&N. Layers of cotton gauze are sandwiched between wire screen for strength, pleated, then coated with a unique, sticky oil that retains particulates for these purposes.
Most gasoline-powered lawn and garden tools, as well as high-performance and off-road vehicles, use foam air filters. Neither original equipment manufacturer (OEM) nor OEM replacement is typically mentioned.
i) What air filter fits my car?
Even though some manufacturers do share filter sizes among models in the same family, filters are not standard. Use your vehicle’s part number to locate the appropriate filter on the manufacturer’s website. There are times when you need to know the model year, manufacturer, series, trim level, and engine type of a vehicle.
ii) When should I change my air filter?
If you want a quick solution, look in your car’s manual. The service interval is specified, and special service intervals for vehicles used in harsh environments may also be included.
iii) Air paper air filters recyclable?
Unfortunately, most paper auto filters cannot be recycled. Because the paper is frequently coated, it is necessary to isolate the medium from the picture frame.
iv) Can an air filter void my warranty?
The warranty provider must show that the failure was due to a defect in the aftermarket item in order to collect on the warranty under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, as is the case with any product.
v) Will I get more power from a better air filter?
A small increase in power is possible under certain conditions, but it won’t be noticeable during normal driving.
It might be challenging to determine which brand of air filter is best for your car among the many available. Be sure to check the terms of your warranty and only use OEM filters in your device until the warranty expires.
Most aftermarket parts work just fine, but if something happens to your car, the manufacturer will hunt for any excuse not to pay. However, after the warranty has expired, you can upgrade to a higher-quality air filter and further enhance your car’s performance.
To avoid ordering the wrong air filter, check back here first. That way, you can rest assured that you are obtaining the best price and quality the very first time around.