Does it matter what air filter you use for your car?

Therefore, it makes sense that buying a higher quality air filter will greatly contribute to higher engine efficiency and longer engine life. Buying a premium air filter for your car will provide optimal airflow, maximum engine performance and best fuel efficiency. The Stack Exchange network consists of 180 communities from Q26A, including Stack Overflow, the largest and most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge and develop their careers. You'll get about 1BHP more from a good quality filter.

But unless you're the princess who slept in the pea, you won't notice. What better quality filters DO have is that they take longer to clog. So, they don't really GIVE you more power, they're better at AVOIDING energy loss once you've driven a couple of thousand miles. I think it depends on the application.

I paid good money for a K%26N air filter for my old traveler, an 18-year-old Subaru 4-cylinder. After installation, I heard a pretty clean grunt noise from the engine when accelerating, but the idle and mileage and gasoline performance were the same. On the other hand, a K%26N air filter installed on my Kawasaki Concours not only gave me that cold grunt noise when accelerating, but I noticed a smoother idle and a small, yes small, increase in top speed performance above 7,000 rpm. So there you go, I think they're worth the money and time spent cleaning them every few thousand miles if used in a performance application, but for a normal old car, the standard, cheap paper filter is the way to go.

With decades of combined experience covering the latest news, reviewing the best equipment and advising you on your next car purchase, The Drive is the leading authority on everything automotive. The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. air filters are your car's first line of defense to prevent dirt, dust and other debris from entering the engine. Once inside, these particles can wreak havoc with vital components and cost you thousands of dollars in repairs.

Take a look at our picks of best-performing air filters for cars to help keep your engine clean and running smoothly. As my audiologist can confirm, I have spent much of my career alongside noisy cars that run on chassis dynamometers. Air intake modifications are a favorite in the tuning industry, so I've tried every variety you can imagine; from simple filters to polished aluminum cold air induction kits, to custom-made carbon fiber airboxes. So, I have a good idea of what works and what doesn't stop performance.

Learn more about automotive parts %26 Tools If everything works as it should, there is no metal-to-metal contact during normal operation. Bearing surfaces have a thin layer of oil between them, the minimum expected, as you might guess, is just over 5 microns. When this is true, particles below 5 microns cannot be trapped between two surfaces, causing damage to the surface. However, as oil viscosities become thinner and thinner, tolerances tighten, and engines turn faster or use higher cylinder pressure than ever before, the latest data indicate that many oil film thicknesses are regularly in the 2 to 3 micron range.

Air filters stop particles in three different ways. The first and most obvious is impaction; this is when the inertia of the particle takes it to the individual elements of the filter medium and stops it as if it were paste in a strainer. The second is interception, here you have a particle that is small enough to be directed with the air stream and would normally pass through the middle, but it passes close enough to stick to it. Obviously, this captures smaller particles than the holes in the filter are designed for, but only a certain amount will get close enough to stick together.

This is for particles so small that they move in zigzagging patterns known as Brownian Motion. Similar to interception, particles that are so small that they would never be captured by impact, would hit the filter media and stick together. If there is no mechanism to cause the particle to adhere to the medium, such as in an oiled filter, the movement of the particles interrupted by interception and diffusion can be slowed but not stopped. The second measure of an air cleaner, which is of most interest to aftermarket tuners, is flow.

Vehicle manufacturers design airboxes so that more than enough air flows to supply the engine under all circumstances. Tuners will make you believe that engineers are incompetent or have some nefarious plan to limit the power of your car, but neither is true. I've seen some surprising claims of power gains from modified air filters and induction systems; while you can gain one or two horsepower at a very specific RPM, they never give power across the range. In summary, take filtration claims with a grain of salt, a grain less than 5 microns in diameter.

What the companies advertise could be the best case scenario with the filter loaded and only tested with the ideal particle size. Then take the flow rates and power gains with the entire salt shaker. Flow rates rarely occur with pressure and density, contributing to those numbers. The data shows that greased filters are likely to trap more smaller particles than dry filters, but are those particles so small that they won't cause damage anyway? Oil has been used to trap dust in air filters for almost the entire time that internal combustion engines have existed.

K%26N was the first to popularize the use of oiled cotton in the 1960s, unlike the oil bath method invented decades earlier. K%26N cotton medium and other brands is the most popular, but greased foam is also common. Experimental data have shown that these types of filters offer greater efficiency for smaller particles, since, for lack of a better term, they are sticky. That filtering efficiency is present from installation to maintenance, making them at least predictable.

The vast majority of oiled cotton filters are considered parts for life, which is always a good thing. By far the most common type of filter you'll find in the automotive world. They're cheap, good at filtering particles, and you can change them quickly. The last point is particularly important for service centers, where washing a filter and waiting for it to dry would leave a car sitting in an elevator longer than necessary.

Maximum filter efficiency is achieved sometime after initial installation, which means that the first part of the service could include inhalation of particles considered harmful. Depending on the filter, this charging phase may be only a few hundred miles, so it may be irrelevant. This is the best option for the average homeowner who never wants to think about an air filter. When using anything from woven polymers to expanded foam, they work the same way as paper.

The medium is made with holes of various sizes that correspond to the size of the particles to be stopped. Like paper filters, these often require a charging phase to achieve maximum efficiency. Good quality dry filters are considered parts for life. At the very least, they have lives in tens of thousands of miles.

Reusable models will require washing and drying, so they are not easy to fit and work like a paper filter. They will save homeowners the sometimes messy task of re-greasing. The main structure of an air cleaner is called a frame. Not only does it hold the medium in place, but it also acts as a seal between the upstream and downstream parts of the air box.

These can be made of soft foam with very little stiffness and rely on the air box to maintain its shape. They can also be made of a stiffer rubber or polyurethane material that maintains the shape of the filter and is much more durable, important for long-life filters. Most lifetime filters require you to purchase specialized products to clean the filter. Greased filters obviously also require oil.

While a reusable filter can cost you two to five times the cost of a paper filter, plan to spend an additional $15-20 on the service kit. Seems like a hefty expense, they usually provide enough products for several years of service. It's worth noting that not only are some oils not compatible between different filter brands for optimal performance, but some dissolve competing filters. For this reason, it pays to stay true to the brand when buying air filters.

If you plan to conserve your car for the long term, a reusable filter is a good investment that will pay for itself. However, if you rent your car for just a few years, you won't get that money in terms of paying for disposable filters or longer engine life. Renting a car, sticking with the paper. Technology, Performance and Design in Your Inbox.

Car air filters are not universal, they are model specific. However, some manufacturers may share power plants and therefore service parts will be identical. Inspect the air filter by holding it to a strong light, if you can't see the light through the pleated paper, it's time to change it. So you might not have to think twice, as the brand has a wide range of quality air filters at an affordable price.

The durability of ACDelco engine air filters further ensures cost savings, unlike other conventional products. This brand of aftermarket air filters offers high-performance solutions that ensure that the engine remains protected and free of dust and dirt. It is noteworthy that thicker versions of the air cleaner perform better, accompanied by longer replacement intervals. Some manufacturers will even install an airbox without tools, making checking and replacing the filter a breeze.

This filter is usually located behind the glove compartment and cleans the air as it moves through the vehicle's HVAC system. The filtration industry is made up of several brands that supply consumers with air filters for automotive engines. You can find some of the brands mentioned below that supply high-quality aftermarket air filters that would improve the performance of your car. Another great thing that most people like about ACDelco air filters is that they seem quite easy to install.

Therefore, it seems to be the best choice for those looking for a suitable car air filter “replacement” option. An engine air filter can offer a bit of safety for your engine, as it protects vital components from dirt and other contaminants that could otherwise cause significant damage. AEM Air filters prevent dirt and other particles from accumulating in the car's engine as a primary function. If you notice that your car has an unpleasant odor or that airflow has decreased, consider replacing the cabin filter to give the system and yourself a breath of fresh air.

In addition, Mann air filters are quite affordable and, although they seem a little expensive compared to conventional options, they are great value for money. With a K%26N air filter in use, it would improve engine performance, improve throttle response, and increase fuel consumption. . .

Janice Kampman
Janice Kampman

Subtly charming musicaholic. Zombie evangelist. Incurable travel lover. Devoted beer enthusiast. Passionate zombie specialist.

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