Air Filter: The Definitive Guide

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Air filters are used in all spheres of life from homes, industries, to vehicles and construction equipment. In homes, high-efficiency HEPA filters are common devices. In the automotive industry, different filters clean the air for various purposes. Air filters for cars can be cabin air filters or engine air filters. When used in the passenger compartment, a car air filter traps pollutants for a healthy vehicle interior.

Apart from a filter’s air purifier benefits, car air filters help to protect the engine from contaminants. The air filter car performance relation is such that a good filter ensures efficiency, while a clogged one results in poor combustion.

This guide focuses on the air filter for vehicles- the type that catches debris before the air reaches the engine. In the guide, you will learn everything about this component, from its function to how it operates. You will get to know the different types of these filters, from diesel engine air filters to the types used in gasoline vehicles. To help you find a quality one, we also bring you a section on the average price of air filter, best brands, and how to check an air filter for quality.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: What is an Air Filter?

Do Cars Have Air Filters?

How an Air Filter Works in Cars

Does Air Filter Size Matter?

Are Air Filters Cleanable?

Chapter 2: What are the Different Types of Car Engine Air Filters?

Paper Air Filters

Foam Air Filters

Stainless Steel Air Filters

Cotton Gauze Air Filters

Oil Bath Air Filters

Water Bath Air Filters

Chapter 3: What are the Symptoms that An Air Filter is Failing?

Strange Engine Sounds

Check Engine Light Coming On

Gasoline Smell

Dirty Air Filter

Reduced Fuel Economy

Reduced Horsepower

Black Smoke or Flame at the Exhaust

Engine Misfires

Chapter 4: Can An Air Filter be Cleaned?

How to Clean the Air Filter in a Car

How to Clean a Dry Air Filter

How to Clean an Oiled Air Filter

How often Should an Air Filter be Cleaned?

What are the Benefits of Cleaning an Air Filter?

Chapter 5: When Should Air Filters be Replaced?

Why is Changing the Air Filter Essential?

How Often to Change the Air Filter in a Car?

Air Filter Changing Tips

How Long Does it Take to Replace a Car Air Filter?

How Much Should it Cost to Change an Air Filter?

Chapter 6: How to Tell a Quality Air Filter

Reusable Vs. Paper Air Filters

Chapter 1

What Is An Air Filter?

Air Filter Sample Image

An air filter refers to the device that traps contaminants from the air. Usually, the filter contains a porous material that allows air through but retains solid particles or gaseous substances. There are also air filters that use water or oil as the filtration medium. Some can remove odors to purify the air.

Pleated filter and foam are one of the most common air filter elements. Spun fiberglass and cotton materials are also popular. Air filters that eliminate gaseous pollutants mostly use treated charcoal, a material that works by absorbing the unwanted molecules of volatile chemicals.

Do Cars Have Air Filters?

Motor vehicles have cabin and engine air filters. A cabin air filter cleans the air circulating the vehicle’s HVAC, removing dust and allergens. An engine air filter removes dirt from the outside air before it goes to the engine. Although both trap pollutants from the air, the two types of car air filters differ in some ways. What are engine and cabin air filter differences?

Engine Air Filter Vs. Cabin Air Filter

Air VS Engine Filter

cabin air filter is a type of air filter for cars but that cleans air before it reaches the passenger compartment. The filter usually features a pleated paper material. Some cabin filters remove odors and harmful gases. They do so using mostly activated carbon or charcoal to help absorb gas molecules.

Engine air filters, on the other hand, trap particles that may damage the engine or contaminate the oil. These filters mostly use pleated paper elements. The filter shape can be a flat panel or cylindrical filter element. It depends on the type of engine. Engine air filter sizes vary from 4 to 16 inches. They are usually placed on the side or above the throttle body and connected to ducts.

How An Air Filter Works In Cars

Because the air filter purpose in a car is to trap contaminants, it contains a material that is porous or fibrous. How is an air filter in the car works? This stared when the pores are made small enough to block particulates but big enough to let in air molecules. As air is forced onto the filter material, particles remain on one side. With time, the material may contain so much debris that its function is greatly hampered. When that happens, the car air filter is no good and requires replacing.

How Air Filters Are Made?

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Air filter manufacturing processes vary across manufacturers and for different air filter types. Here is how air filters are made.

A spool unrolls a roll of special filter paper. The unwound paper goes into a roller machine when it is indented to prepare it for pleating. Another machine rolled the paper to make pleats along the indents. The next step involves cutting the paper into pieces according to the required number of pleats.

To make flat panel filters, the pleated piece of paper is placed in moulds and sprayed with polyurethane material all around. The filter is then allowed to cool before workers manually trim the excess polyurethane off the edges. The final stage involves packaging the filter. Cylindrical filters are made in the same way. However, instead on rectangular moulds, the pleated paper pieces are inserted in circular moulds and either end bonded with fluid polyurethane.

Are Air Filters Safe?

When working efficiently, air filters are safe devices. Air filter efficiency depends on the level of porosity, which is mostly determined by the type of filtration material. Some applications require filter of higher efficiency than others. For engine air filters, a specific filtration level is required. It ensures the engine remains protected while not limiting the amount of air getting through. Cabin air filters have a more restrictive media. Some can even purify the air.

Where Is The Air Filter Located In A Car?

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In most cars, the engine air filter can be found in the engine compartment just under the hood. In modern fuel injected cars, the filter is housed in a rectangular or square box. The housing is usually located between the engine and the front grill. In older models, the filter housing is the large round part on the engine with a metal or plastic cover. The air filter compartment of some modern vehicles may not be easy to locate.

Where Is An Air Filter On Lawnmower?

In a lawnmower, the air filter usually sits near and just above the engine. The filter’s housing can be metal or plastic. To make it sturdy, the casing is fasted to the mower using several screws and snap fittings.

Which Way Should Air Filters Face?

Air filters are designed to be easy to install. Most will not fit unless you insert them the right way, which makes inserting them the wrong way impossible. Almost all filters have arrows to indicate the direction of airflow. This makes determining the intake side easy. When replacing these devices, it is essential to ensure a proper fit.

Does Air Filter Size Matter?

It does, especially if we are talking about a filter that is too small. At high speeds, a small-sized filter may become too restrictive, causing the engine to suffer. That said, a large filter size would not necessarily improve engine performance. Its main benefit would be a longer service life. With the increased effective surface area, such a filter would trap more debris than a smaller one.

In everyday use, the size of an air filter size should match the application and filtration requirements. Besides the longer service life, there would be no harm in using a large air filter in a vehicle. In fact, it would be better than having a small one that you have to clean or replace every so often.

Are Air Filters Cleanable?

Are they cleanable

Most air filters can be cleaned several times before changing them. Although replacing a dirty air filter is often more advisable, cleaning gives the filter a new lease of life and saves you money. It also ensures good engine performance before you finally install a new filter.

An air filter can be cleaned in a cleaning solution. This method removes most of the dirt, making the filter to last a little longer. One can also use a vacuum. Sucking up dirt from a clogged filter is quicker and easier. However, it may not remove embedded particles that are set deep in the fibers of the filter media.

Does Filter Size Affect Performance?

It can, but only when the filter size does not match the engine needs. If the filter is too small, it may not let in enough air. And in dusty environments, it may clog too quickly and make the engine to perform poorly. Using a large filter that what the engine requires may not produce a substantial increase of engine performance. Instead, you would have a filter that takes longer before it clogs with dirt. .

Does Air Filter Affect AC?

Yes, it does if covered by dirt. A clogged filter can cause uneven cooling, shorter on/off cycles, and a build-up of harmful particles. The AC is meant to improve comfort and make the air healthier to breathe. A dirty filter affects this function and makes the AC to lose its usefulness.

Chapter 2

What Are The Different Types Of Car Engine Air Filters?

Car Engine Air Filters Sample Image

Car air filters can be grouped according to the filtration material used. Based on this classification, air filter types vary greatly. Some air filter materials are better than others, and the application often dictates the type of filter used. Some materials were used years back. While the materials can still be found in some automobiles, their use has diminished considerably over the years.

The type of air filter material depends on various factors. Off-road vehicles need filters that can withstand the dusty environment without losing effectiveness. Vehicle manufacturers, on the other hand, prefer filters that are cost-effective. For normal everyday use and less severe conditions, a simple and inexpensive filter material would suffice. Here is a list of the different types of air filters for cars.

Paper Air Filters

Paper AF

Although these filters are said to be made from paper, it is not the usual kind. Instead, it is a special type of paper made from compacted wood pulp. The paper is bonded for strength as well as improve its performance. To increase the filter’s surface area, the paper is usually pleated. The number of pleats mostly depends on the filter size, quality, and the required effectiveness. More pleats mean more surface area and a higher capacity to trap contaminants.

Paper filters are preferred for being efficient, less costly, and easy to maintain. Based on the many benefits of paper air filters, they are almost the standard filter for automobiles. Most vehicles use this type of filter, from passenger cars to construction equipment vehicles. Auto manufacturers also prefer to use paper air filters in their factory cars.

Foam Air Filters

Foam Air Filter

Foam filters use polyurethane material to trap contaminants. Some manufacturers oil the filtration material to increase the ability to retain particles. Whether oiled or not, foam air filters generally have high dirt holding capacities. As a result, they have always been a popular option for off-road vehicles. In Motorsport vehicles, too, where the air contains a lot of dust.

Apart from the excellent dirt capacity, these filters are less restrictive. That means better flow rates, and the engine receives adequate air for optimal performance. One of the advantages of foam filters is that they are reusable. They can be washed in water to remove the trapped debris and used again as almost new.

Stainless Steel Air Filters

These air filters types are made from different layers of steel mesh. As a result, they offer different levels of filtration and can catch a lot dirt. Generally, steel mesh air filters are not too restrictive. This makes them adequately effective at ensuring enough clean air for better engine performance. But that also means some pollutants may find their way into the engine. However, the particles would be too small to cause worry. Steel mesh air filters do not need to be oiled.

Cotton Gauze Air Filters

Cotton Gauze AF

These filters are made up of layers of cotton material with aluminum mesh between them for structural support. Made of bigger openings, cotton gauze filters offer minimal restriction, and may not remove finer dirt. To get around that, manufacturers usually oil the filtration material so it can catch more debris.

A large number of vehicle owners prefer this type of material when replacing their standard air filters. One of the reasons is the longer lifespan, which can see the filter last the entire lifetime of a vehicle. Cotton filters are also washable. Being a washable air filter material, this filter type can be used again and again.

Oil Bath Air Filters

Oil bath air filters
Source: http://www.2040-parts

Oil filter air filters were originally used in the early vehicles. They can still be found in modern automotive engines, though, especially where conditions are too dusty. An oil bath air filter comprises a sump of oil and an insert. The insert can be mesh, foam, or fiber filled. A major advantage of these filters is that they can trap a lot of dust and not lose efficiency.

Oil bath air filters have their downsides. To prevent increased restriction, they have to be large. These filters can also cause higher emissions due to the aspiration of oil when used in spark-ignition engines. Another drawback is that they can be difficult to clean. With oil all over, the mess they create during cleaning is more than that of any other type of air filter.

Water Bath Air Filters

The working principle of water bath filters is no different from that of oil bath filters. Only that water is used instead of oil. Essentially, the filter consists of a reservoir, an inlet, and an outlet. Dirty air then enters from one side and comes out of the other, leaving most of the particles in the water.

Water bath filters were most common in the years between the early 1900s and up to the late 1930s. These filters were inefficient, and could not be used in severe conditions. Later, the filters became less popular when the oil bath filters came into use. That was in the 1960s. Compared to water, oil was more efficient at cleaning the air of particles.

Chapter 3

What Are The Symptoms That An Air Filter Is Failing?

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When your car air filter finally clogs with dirt, it will start to show signs. Bad air filter symptoms are varied. However, they all revolve around the engine and indicate an inadequate supply of clean air. Some problems such as engine wear that result from a broken air filters may also show. What are the symptoms to watch out for? They include:

Strange Engine Sounds

Car noises can be caused by different components. A dirty air filter is one of them. When your car is not moving and the engine is turned on, it should produce a smooth rotation with vibrations that are not easily noticeable. This happens when the car is performing normally. If the vibrations become unusually loud, it can mean a bad air filter. Also, if there are sounds like small explosions.

Check Engine Light Coming On

Check Engine

In the combustion cycle of many modern engines, a large volume of air is required to burn a small amount of fuel. If the air filter is clogged, there is little air available for each combustion cycle. This sends a signal to light up the dashboard check engine light. Because various other problems can cause the check engine light to come on, it is advisable to have a qualified person scan the car computer for error codes. The air filter should also be checked for clogging.

Gasoline Smell

Gasoline smell in the car can indicate unburnt fuel. This will usually happen when starting the car. If the filter is too dirty, it will not pass sufficient air to enable efficient combustion. As a result, gasoline fumes exit through the exhaust. The air around them smells of gasoline which includes inside the car.This means the air filter is damaged and urgently needs to be replaced.

Dirty Air Filter

Dirty Air Filter

A new filter is usually white or somewhere near white when new. Over time, it becomes darker due to a buildup of dust and debris on the filter material. You can easily tell a dirty filter by the way it looks. It will have accumulated so much dirt that its surface will look a lot dark. It is advisable to make air filter inspection a routine during every vehicle maintenance session. That way, you can know when the filter is nearing the end of its lifespan.

Reduced Fuel Economy

In the absence of enough air, carbureted engine systems burn more fuel. It can cost you a lot in fuel expenses when you have to refuel your car many times than usual. What is good gas mileage when you have a working air filter? You can tell that your car’s fuel economy is excellent if your visits to the gas station are less frequent. You can also use a gas mileage calculator or gas mileage comparison chart to see how your car is performing. If the results are dismal, the air filter could be the reason. Have it checked for clogging.

Reduced Horsepower

When the filter is dirty, it cannot allow enough air to flow to the engine. The vehicle then fails to respond adequately. When you step on the gas pedal, you may experience jerking movements. This shows the engine cannot cope with the increased demand for horsepower. While several failing components can cause these symptoms, the air filter is a major culprit. Should you notice this symptom, of is advisable to check the condition of the air filter.

Black Smoke Or Flame At The Exhaust

Black Smoke or Flame Image

If you notice sooty smoke or flames coming out of the exhaust pipe, it is a sign that the engine is not receiving enough air. The air filter is likely dirty and severely clogged. It is a risky and dangerous situation that must be dealt with immediately. The combustion cycle is unable to burn all the fuel due to inadequate air supply, causing unburnt fuel to exit through the exhaust.

As the fuel forces its way through the exhaust pipe, it may even produce some explosive sounds. The best thing is to have a mechanic look into the problem straight away. Or, you can open the hood and check the air filter condition yourself. If it appears too dirty, replace it.

Engine Misfires

Engine misfire symptoms are among the most common indicators of a bad air filter. When there is not enough air to burn fuel in the engine, the result can be soot. The sooty material may cover the spark plug. When that happens, the plug cannot produce the required spark that should ignite the fuel and air mixture. The result is a misfire of the engine.

You may feel the car jerk suddenly and without warning, or experience hard starts. There may also be an engine misfire sound. Should you notice these dirty air filter problems, it is about time did a replacement. Driving with a misfiring cylinder is a most uncomfortable experience.

From the car making noise when driving, reduced fuel economy, check engine light on/off, to a car making noise when starting, signs of a bad air filter are many and varied. To avoid all these problems, you can choose to clean the filter or replace it. Cleaning an air filter is recommended when not much dirt has accumulated. If most of the debris cannot be removed by cleaning, replacing the filter becomes the only option.

Chapter 4

Can An Air Filter Be Cleaned?

Dirty Filter

Car air filters can be cleaned. It is an essential part of vehicle maintenance practices, and one that ensures engine performance is not affected. Most air filters can be cleaned several times before replacing. When removing accumulated dirt from an air filter, it is important to determine if it is the dry type or oiled type. That is because the two need to be cleaned differently.

How To Clean The Air Filter In A Car

In this part of the air filter guide, we will look at the process to clean both a dry and oiled  filter.

Things to have with you:

A screwdriver, piece of cloth or towel, cleaning solution or mild soap and warm water, air filter oil

How To Clean A Dry Air Filter

How to clean air filter

Step 1.

Find the air filter on the car- the filter is usually located under the hood, above the engine. In direct-injection engines, it is underneath the rectangular or square housing. Carbureted vehicles have the filter encased in a round compartment. The dry air filters is also usually a pleated paper or cotton gauze material. Should you not find the filter in the engine bay, consult your car’s manual.

Step 2.

Remove the filter- use a screwdriver and your fingers to remove the clamps that may be holding the cover of the filter housing. It can be another type of fastener, too. After removing the lid, gently pull out the filter.

Step 3.

Clean the filter- Using a vacuum, remove the dust and debris covering the filter. Ensure the vacuum’s cleaning head covers every surface of the filter material, especially along the pleats. Finally, gently wipe off the filter using a piece of clean and dry cloth. You may vacuum the filter housing to ensure no dirt remains.

Step 4.

Re-install the filter- carefully insert the filter back in the housing. Ensure a proper fit, or the filter will not function as expected. Replace the housing cover.

How To Clean An Oiled Air Filter

How to clean an oiled air filter

Oiled filters are more difficult to clean. The filter material contains oil, which requires to be removed alongside the trapped dirt and debris. To clean this type of filter, these are the steps to follow.

Step 1.

Locate the filter- oiled air filters are located in the same position that of dry filters. The only difference between them is the oil in the filtering material.

Step 2.

Remove the filter- remove the cover of the filter housing. Use a screwdriver to remove the fasteners used. Then, pull out the filter.

Step 3.

Clean the filter- for this, you may use a cleaning solution made specifically for filters. If that is not available, use normal soap and water. The soap should be mild to avoid damaging the filter material. Spray the filter with the cleaner and let it soak for 10-15 minutes. Rinse the filter under running water, ensuring the debris between the pleats gets removed.

Step 4.

Leave the filter to dry- place the filter on a clean surface and let it dry. To shorten the time it takes to dry up, shake it a few times to remove excess water. You may need to wait for not less than 24 hours. Avoid using it while still wet.

Step 5.

Oil the filter- once the filter has dried, it is time to re-oil it. Use the recommended amount of oil. Allow the oil to soak in for about 10 minutes. Be sure to use filter oil. You can obtain this from an auto parts shop.

Step 6.

Replace the filter- place the oiled filter in its housing, taking care not to install it loosely. Replace the cover and the fasteners.

How Often Should An Air Filter Be Cleaned?

It is recommended to clean the engine air filter regularly. While the cleaning frequency may vary depending on driving conditions, auto experts advise the interval to be after every 15 000 miles. If conditions are too dusty, consider checking a service interval of 5 000 miles. A vehicle owner can also make it a routine to clean the filter during every major maintenance session.

What Are The Benefits Of Cleaning An Air Filter?

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Cleaning a car’s air filter offers many benefits. A dirty filter restricts the flow of air through it. That, in turn, impacts on the engine. The engine performance drops, and you will find that you have to use more fuel than usual. Apart from the reduced mileage, a dirty air filter causes your car to produce more emissions.

Engine air filters are easy to access as well as easy to clean. In the case you cannot clean the filter, it is recommended to replace it as soon as you notice signs of clogging. That way, you will have saved yourself the stresses of a poorly performing engine and other bad filter problems.

Can Air Filters be Recycled?
Some air filters can be recycled. Having said that, air filters are among the most inexpensive auto components. Besides, a filter that has served it lifespan is likely to be embedded with dirt. Recycling such a filter would not, therefore, be a good idea. Foam and cotton filters are reusable. They only need to be washed and one can use them for a long long time before they need replacing.

Chapter 5

When Should Air Filters Be Replaced?

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A filter will eventually become clogged and inefficient. At that time, cleaning cannot restore its effectiveness. The only option then becomes purchasing and installing a new filter. The filter is the engine’s breathing system. When clogged, the quality of air going to the engine is affected. This prevents the fuel from burning efficiently and causes bad air filter problems.

It is recommended that an air filter be replaced when it has become too dirty and restrictive. Usually, you will know when to replace the air filter. The car often starts to show signs of reduced performance, increased emissions, and other symptoms. Because most of these signs are noticeable, you can know when to take prompt action.

But you do not have to wait for that. It is better to replace the air filter at the right time even before the engine becomes affected. That way, you can protect the engine, save on fuel, and several other benefits. Let us see why should change the filter on time.

Why Is Changing The Air Filter Essential?

The advantages of changing a dirty car air filter include:

Improved fuel efficiency– a clean filter means more air going to the engine. The fuel burns more efficiently and your car does not consume more fuel than necessary. It means saving on gas and the associated expenses.

Reduced emissions– insufficient air leads to inefficient combustion. The engine runs too rich and causes higher emissions. Apart from harming the environment, the emissions can mean your car’s exhaust producing thick, black smoke.

An extended engine life– a dirty and old filter may get torn. This allows abrasive particles to find their way to the engine. The engine parts then wear down rapidly, shortening the engine’s lifespan considerably.

How Often To Change The Air Filter In A Car?

You can replace the filter at least once every year. In terms of mileage, that is about 15 000 to 30 000 miles. The wide range arises from the fact that driving conditions are different. If you drive in dusty environments, you may need to replace the air filter earlier, after 15 000 miles. Those who drive in cleaner conditions will have their air filters lasting a little longer.

How to Change Engine Air Filter

How to change an Engine Air Filter

Here is the procedure to change a dirty and old air filter.

Step 1.

With the vehicle safely parked on level ground and the engine switched off, open the hood and prop it.

Step 2.

Find the filter housing. In carbureted engines, it is a round shape and atop the engine. If the vehicle is a modern direct-injection engine, the filter housing is a rectangular or square compartment.

Step 3.

Remove the fasteners on the filter housing cover. They can be wing nuts, screws, or snap one.

Step 4.

Take out the filter by pulling it with the hands.

Step 5.

Use a vacuum or compressed air to clean out the filter housing.

Step 6.

Take your new air filter and insert it in the opening in the housing. Do so gently, ensuring that it fits correctly. Ensure, too, that the filter faces the right way up.

Air Filter Changing Tips

To make replacing the air filter both safe and simple, follow these tips

Ensure the vehicle is secured. Start by driving to a level ground where there are no risks of the wheels rolling

Always ensure the engine is turned off before you can start working under the hood. Some parts may be still hot if you have been driving. Allow them to cool

Have the right air filter with you. It should be the right size and made from a type of material that suits your driving conditions.

If you cannot locate the air filter in your car, consult the car’s manual. It may be hidden and not easy to find

Ensure the filter is firmly and properly installed, or you will have an engine that is not performing as it should. Worse still, you could cause your engine if particles go past the filter.

How Long Does It Take To Replace A Car Air Filter?

Replacing the engine air filter is a simple and basic car servicing procedure. It should not take more than 10 minutes even without prior experience. You can change the air filter almost anywhere, and you do not need any special tools. The only tools required are a screw driver to remove the housing cover, and vacuum to clean the housing.

The only time you may take time to replace the air filter is when you have the filter in a tricky location. Some manufacturers today are locating the air filter in hard-to-reach places, making filter replacement a less straightforward process.

How Much Should It Cost To Change An Air Filter?

Aie=r Filter Cost

The cost to replace an air filter ranges from $20 to $50. This amount includes both labor and cost to purchase the component. Air filters are inexpensive auto parts, with some costing as low as $10. The variation in the cost to replace the filter arises from differences in car models and makes, filter accessibility, and the different labor rates of mechanics.

Should you decide to install the filter yourself, you can expect to spend as low as ten dollars. This is what makes the components better to replace than clean. Also, why a vehicle owner should not drive around with a dirty filter.

Are All Filters The Same?

No, they are not. These auto parts vary in terms of purpose, filter material used, size, and more. The materials range from paper, cotton gauze, to steel mesh. Some off-road vehicles use oil bath air filters, which trap particles using a different method when compared to the other air filters. Engine air filters also vary in sizes. The kind used in a vehicle depends on the vehicles model and make.

The engine air filter is not the only filter that cleans the air coming from the outside environment. There is also the cabin air filter that removes dust and other allergens from the air that passes through the HVAC system. Both trap contaminants from the air. However, they mostly work differently and can be made from different materials.

Chapter 6

How To Tell A Quality Air Filter

The Air Filter

Just like any other auto part, there are many variations of the engine air filter. This can make choosing the right one for your car tricky. With the engine requiring a lot of air to burn just a little amount of fuel, you need a filter that can cope. The filter needs to allow as much air as possible while blocking as many contaminants. It should also be able to stand up to the driving conditions. To help you find the most quality air filter, here is a buying guide showing the factors to consider.

Filter Media Capacity

This refers to the amount of dirt that a given filter can hold before it becomes too clogged to perform its function. Dirt capacity varies from one filter to another. Some filter materials have higher capacities than others which makes choosing the right type essential. If you drive in dusty conditions, the filter’s capacity is something you will want to consider. Higher capacity also means a longer filter lifespan.

Premium air filters usually hold more dirt. Choose them if you do not want to replace the filter too soon. Such filters can have a lifespan of 50 000 if you drive in city roads. The filters are also suitable if yours is an off-road vehicle and you do not want to purchase a new one after every few thousand miles.


Efficiency of Filters

An air filter’s efficiency is evaluated using the standard ISO 5011 test and expressed as a percentage. The higher the efficiency, the better the filter’s ability to trap particles. To determine this efficiency, an air filter test is performed and the restriction measured. It is usually recommended to purchase a filter with a high-efficiency level. Over time, the efficiency rises as the filter clogs.


Some filters are more restrictive than others. Depending on the needs of your engine, you may choose a filter that allows more air through, or one that offers restricted flow. Usually, large filters provide bigger effective surface areas. That enables them to have a higher capacity to hold dirt while also allowing more air through. The amount of surface area varies depending on the filter size as well as the number of pleats. It is, therefore, advisable to choose an air filter with closely packed pleats.

Presence Or Absence Of A Sealing Gasket

A quality air filter should form a seal all around. Openings on the edges can result in dirt particles going to the engine. Apart from causing wear to the engine parts, the particles would lead to oil contamination. Therefore, ensure the filter that you opt for has a gasket sealing that attaches the filter to the flat surfaces firmly for an air-tight seal. It can go a long way toward protecting your engine.

Restriction Gauges

Restrcition Gauge Image

Some manufacturers fit air restriction gauges to their air filters. An air restriction gauge monitors the airflow through the filter and allows you to tell when it clogs. That way, you can take action to clean or replace the filter on time. To ensure the engine’s performance is not affected by a dirty filter at any one time, you may choose to purchase these filters that come with an air restriction gauge.

Vehicle Make And Model

Most auto components are meant to fit specific vehicles. When choosing an air filter, it is essential to consider the model and make of your car. This is to avoid a situation where the filter does not fit properly. It can affect the performance of the engine or even lead to damage when particles find openings to passes through and reach the engine parts. Whether shopping online or offline, have these car details with you.


Choose a brand that has excelled when it comes to quality. It will save you money in the long run. You will not be replacing the filter too soon, which is what every car owner wishes for. The best air filter brand will likely be popular everywhere, both offline and online. If previous customers are happy with a particular air filter, chances are that you will also find it satisfactory.

Reusable Vs. Paper Air Filters

Reusable VS Paper Air Filter

It is essential that you choose between these filter types. Paper air filters cost less. However, they cannot be cleaned and reused many times. Eventually, you have to through them away. Foam and cotton gauze air filters can be washed and reused numerous times. However, they are more expensive. These reusable filters also make maintaining the air filter such hard work. You have to wash and re-oil them quite often, especially if there is a lot of dist being filtered.

Compared to the reusable filters, paper filters are simpler to use plus they are more effective at trapping smaller particles. Reusable foam and cotton air filters are only good at trapping the larger debris. Each type suits particular environments, though. For really dusty conditions, you may want to opt for reusable filters. For city roads, the paper filter would be an excellent choice.

Whether buying a standard or performance air filter, a careful consideration of these factors can help you make the right choice. You will end up with the best air filter for your engine needs, your type of car, and driving conditions. Remember, it is better to pay a higher price for your air filter than have to replace it too soon, or even have to repair a damaged engine.


The air filter determines the quality of the air that goes to the engine. A poorly performing or dirty filter, and the engine runs less efficiently. Most performance problems of the engine can be traced to the air filter. By reading this guide, you should have become knowledgeable enough to take care of the important part of a vehicle’s air system.

You can now tell the signs that a that the fuel filter is bad, what to do, and the advantages and disadvantages of the action that you opt to take. You understand the different types of air filters there are in a vehicle, and how each one of them works. Best of all, you know when you need to change the engine air filter and how to choose a quality one.

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