Air is a crucial ingredient in the combustion process used to power your car. Without it, the car just wouldn’t run. Just like your body needs clean air to keep you alive, your engine cannot work with dirty air. It must be cleaned first. The cleaning or filtration role is played by the air filter. It catches all the dirt and debris in the air before it is sucked into the engine.
There are so many air filters out there, you can get dizzy trying to figure out which one to buy. Some are specifically designed for certain vehicles and the materials used to make them differ significantly. On top of that, the price tags differ significantly and it is difficult to tell why one costs so much more than the other.
Here is a list of our favorite air filters along with brief descriptions of why we feel they deserve to be on our list of top air filters.
Best Auto Air Filter
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This is a genuine replacement part from Toyota. It can be used with all major engine oil brands so you don’t have to worry about buying an oil brand which may not be compatible with it. If you are comfortable with a bit of engine repair and replacement work, you can replace this part yourself. It slots into the engine quite easily, meaning you can save on the few dollars it would have cost you to have someone at the repair shop do it for you.
Why did this product sail up to the top spot of our list? The main aim of this listing is to consolidate products which ensure the best performance and offer the best value for money. This product stole the day in the latter. Toyota Genuine Parts Air Filter Elements come in a pack of 10 filters, all for a price below $20. You probably will not get this kind of deal anywhere else considering the filters are up to Toyota standards with no compromises on quality anywhere.
- Genuine Toyota part
- Comes in a pack of 10 filters
- Usable with all major engine oil brands
- Works effectively to remove contaminants
- Easily slots into engine
This is no doubt an impressive air filter. It has a 98.5% efficiency rating. It is however, specifically designed for Ford vehicles so if yours is not a Ford vehicle this product is not for you. If your car is a Ford, read on.
Some filters get damaged when they are exposed to moisture or oil. This one is designed to withstand these and continue to filter out contaminants in air with full efficiency.
Car engines produce tremendous amounts of heat which sometimes interfere with air filters’ performance. This filter is resistant to extreme temperatures therefore making it more durable. It can provide effective filtration for up to a year.
It is easy to install so owners with basic engine skills can install it for themselves.
- Ford Specific
- Resistant to extreme temperatures
- Lasts up to 1 year
- Heat resistant
- 5% efficiency rating
- Easy to install
- Oil and moisture resistant
FRAM Extra Guard CA10755 Replacement Engine Air Filter for Select Lexus, Toyota, Jeep and Dodge Models, Provides Up to 12 Months or 12,000 Miles Filter Protection
- VEHICLE APPLICATIONS: Dodge (2011-2022 Durango 3.6L & 5.7L, 2018-2022 Durango 6.4L), Jeep (2011-2021 Grand Cherokee 3.6L, 5.7L & 6.4L), Lexus (2013-2018 ES350 3.5L, 2015-2017 NX200T 2.0L, 2018-2021 NX300 2.0L, 2010-2022 RX350 3.5L).Material:Plastic
- ADDITIONAL APPLICATIONS: Toyota (2013-2018 Avalon 3.5L, 2012-2017 Camry 3.5L, 2014-2019 Highlander 2.7L & 3.5L, 2011-2013 Sienna
FRAM is a brand name known for construction of high quality air filters so it is no surprise that this product is on our list. According to the manufacturer, it is built using advanced material which enables it provide twice the filtration provided by other brands in the market.
Take a close look at this filter and you will notice deep, extensive pleats which help to provide the top quality filtration promised. FRAM recommends change intervals of about 12,000 miles to ensure acceleration never decreases and horsepower is maintained as normal. That said, it is still useful to follow recommended change intervals indicated in your vehicle owner’s manual.
The pack containing the filter has directions with illustrations to help you install the filter yourself. You don’t have to pay to have a professional install it for you.
This product weighs 7 ounces and fits into a 0.8 x 0.4 x 1.2 inches slot in your engine.
- Built using advanced material
- Deep, extensive pleats
- Weighs 7 ounces ; Dimensions: 0.8 x 0.4 x 1.2 inches
- 2X engine protection
- 12,000 mile change interval
- On-pack directions with illustrations
K&N 33-2031-2 Performance Air Filter with Filter Care Service Kit
- Designed to increase horsepower and acceleration
- Washable and reusable lifetime air filter
- High air flow with excellent filtration
- Includes 6.5 oz. air filter oil, 12 oz. filter cleaner
- Air filter oil prevents dirt from entering your engine and works to dissolve the dirt build up and oil
This K & N product is a high-performance air filter specifically designed to increase acceleration and horsepower. It is unique primarily because it is made with desert motocross racing in mind. This type of racing exposes the filter to large quantities and a many kinds of dirt, dust and debris. Any filter designed for it must be a lot more efficient than regular brands.
The air filter is reusable and it comes with the K & N 1 million mile or 10 year limited warranty. The filter media used is made of cotton which allows for high flow of air. There are 6 layers which are held in position in between two layers of epoxy-coated wire mesh. Also included is 6.5 oz. of air filter oil and 12 oz. of filter cleaner. The oil serves to prevent dirt from entering the engine and dissolves some dirt.
Another unique feature is that the cotton used is washable so it can be used over and over again with little deterioration in quality.
- Cotton filter media, six layers deep
- 5 oz. air filter oil; 12 oz. filter cleaner
- Washable cotton – lifetime air filter
- 1 million mile or 10 year limited warranty.
- Boosts horsepower and acceleration
- High air flow
AEM 28 – 20304 Dry Flow Air Filter
This is an American-made air filter designed with increased engine performance in mind. It is made using durable material which can be reused. AEM assures you that this will be the last filer you will ever need to buy. The product even comes with a limited warranty just to show users how confident the manufacturer is that it will last you through the life of your car.
This filter’s media is made of synthetic, washable material. It utilizes an intricate web of carbon fibers which capture 99% of all harmful contaminants while ensuring smooth flow of air.
Despite its impeccable performance, it is important to note that a significant number of users have complained about these filters failing to fit into the vehicles they are designed for. In many cases the rubber edging fits too snug in the filter cabin. In rare cases the media in a new filter is found to be cracked or torn.
- Washable, synthetic media
- Intricate web of carbon fibers
- Manufactured in the United States
- Increases engine performance and acceleration
- Comes with limited warranty
- Captures 99% of harmful contaminants
Mann Filter C 3698/3-2 Air Filter Element, (Set of 2)
- Specially embossed paper for good pleat stability
- Filters harmful particles such as dust, pollen, sand, soot or even drops of water out of the intake air
- is attached
- Balances the air flowing towards the air flow meter and seals off adjacent components
This air filter is made from premium, specially embossed paper which gives good pleat stability and thus increased filtration efficiency. The pleats work to bar even the smallest particles such as dust, sand and soot from entering the engine.
Each filter has a frame made from flexible plastic to allow for easy installation. The plastic is strong enough to ensure stability of the part as well as withstand pressure well enough to avoid cracking and tarnishing. A patented foam seal is used to ensure an airtight fit.
Intake noise is significantly reduced despite achievement of a perfect balance of air flowing towards the air flow meter. If you are wondering about weight and dimensions to know if it will be appropriate for your vehicle, this air filter weighs 1.2 pounds.
Its dimensions are 14 x 5.3 x 2 inches. It is designed to fit in the filter housing of any vehicle although it is always advisable to compare the specific dimensions of a product to the filter compartment in your engine before purchasing.
- Made from premium, specially embossed paper
- Flexible, plastic frame
- Patented foam seal
- Weight: 1.2 pounds; dimensions: 14 x 5.3 x 2 inches.
- Protects from unwanted moisture
- Reduced intake noise
- Designed for any make of vehicle
- All weather product
Purolator Auto Air Filters
Purolator A15669 PurolatorONE Advanced Engine Air Filter
- Provides high volumes of clean air for efficient operation and reduced engine wear
- Multi-fiber, high-density media traps 99% of harmful contaminants to protect the engine
- Gaskets provide a tight seal to ensure that only filtered air reaches the engine
- Improves acceleration and boosts overall engine efficiency
- Does not
Purolator is a well-known brand which has made a name for high-quality filters sold at reasonable prices. This filter is one of their most popular units.
It is made using tightly pleated, high density, high fiber paper which ensures the engine is protected from all sorts of dirt, dust and debris. A flexible, rubber frame helps it fit into the filter compartment quickly and easily.
You can easily install it for yourself even if you have no professional expertise. Once properly installed, the frame is also completely airtight to make sure no particles can pass through the openings.
After installation, you don’t have to worry about air filters for about 12,000 miles or for about a year. If you drive on very rough or duty roads, you may have to change filters a bit more often. The Purolator air filter’s dimensions are 10.6 x 2.6 x 12.8 inches and it weighs 1.2 pounds. It is designed to fit into any vehicle’s air filter housing.
With an impressive efficiency rating of 99%, this air filter boosts acceleration and improves overall engine efficiency. Most users also report improved gas mileage after installing this filter.
- High density, high fiber paper
- Flexible, rubber airtight frame
- 12,000 mile change interval
- Weight: 1.2 pounds; Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.6 x 12.8 inches
- Easy to install, even for amateurs
- 99% efficiency rating
- Does not void your new car warranty
- Durable – 12,000 mile change interval
Ecogard Premium Air Filter
ECOGARD XA10579 Premium Engine Air Filter Fits Ford F-250 Super Duty 6.2L 2017-2019, F-350 Super Duty 6.2L 2017-2019, F-450 Super Duty 6.8L 2017-2019, F-550 Super Duty 6.8L 2017-2019
- COMPATIBLE with Ford F-250 Super Duty 6.2L 2017-2019, F-350 Super Duty 6.2L 2017-2019, F-450 Super Duty 6.8L 2017-2019, F-550 Super Duty 6.8L 2017-2019
- REPLACES FORD HC3Z-9601B, FRAM CA12183, PUROLATOR A48220, WIX WA10697
- IMPROVE PERFORMANCE by changing your vehicle's air filter at least every 12,000 miles (or as recommended
This product is a little different from the other filters we have looked at. It is cone shaped when the bulk of similar products in the market are rectangular.
Like many other filters made by Ecogard, it fits perfectly into the engines it is designed for. This makes removal and installation of new filters a quick and easy process. As expected, you never have to deal with irritating sounds caused by lose fitting parts because it is always an accurate fit.
It is designed specifically for a number of engines across a range of Ford and Lincoln vehicles. If your car falls in this category, this is definitely something to take a second look at. It boasts of a large surface area thanks to lots of pleats packed into the length of the filter. With these you are assured of efficient air filtration.
This filter is compatible with the 2017 Ford F – 350 Super Duty, , 2017 Ford F – 550 Super Duty, 2017 Ford F – 250 Super Duty and 2017 Ford F – 450 Super Duty. The recommended change interval is 12,000 miles though it is always best to check what is recommended in your car owner’s manual.
- Cone shaped
- Compatible with multiple models in the Ford and Lincoln range
- Weight: 1.48 pounds ; dimensions: 9.9 x 6.8 x 9.5 inches
- Easy to install
- Ford OE (original equipment) part
- Improves acceleration and general engine performance
Factors to Consider When Buying an Auto Air Filter
This is a detail you really cannot afford to ignore. You must always buy an air filter which fits the specifications of your vehicle. Although a majority of air filters in the market can be used in any vehicle, some are vehicle specific. You don’t want to end up with a Ford specific air filter for your Honda.
When you can, always go for air filters which are originally manufactured for your vehicle. This way, the filter fits into the housing compartment perfectly. A perfectly tight fit is also good because it prevents those irritating noises which are produced when a part is a little bit too lose.
Air filters work by the pleats or folds of material trapping particles in the air as it gets sucked into the engine. The more pleats and folds, the more surface area available to trap even the smallest particles. When selecting an air filter for your car, keep in mind that the more pleats it has, the more surface area and the more efficient it will be.
Some air filters are hardier than others in terms of temperature resistance. If you live in a particularly warm part of the world, this will be something for you to consider when buying an air filter.
Don’t forget that engines produce a significant amount of heat even when they are operating normally, extra heat from the environment may be too much for some air filters to withstand.
Air filters are simple parts which generally shouldn’t cost much. You should be able to get a decent air filter for between $20 and $30. Even then, some brands come in packs containing multiple pieces.
If you are comfortable working under the hood of your car, you can look out for a filter which comes with instructions so you can install it yourself and avoid paying a professional mechanic to do the installation.
Type: Reusable vs. Disposable
Disposable air filters
These are usually a lot cheaper than reusable filters but they must be changed regularly. Change intervals generally fall in the range of 12,000 miles or after a year. Disposables are made using resin or a durable paper which is pleated to capture impurities.
If you drive on rough and dusty roads often, then you may need to change your filters more often. Make a point to check your air filter regularly to make sure it doesn’t break. When this happens your engine is left exposed to all sorts of dirt in the air.
These are more expensive than disposable ones at the point of purchase but if you do the math, they are actually an investment. They are made using washable cotton material. When you have used it for 12,000 miles or for a year, all you need to do is remove the cotton material, wash out all the dirt, dry it and replace it.
You can use a reusable filter for 3 or 4 washes. The main precautions with these filters is to ensure that the material is completely dry before reinstalling it. Also ensure that it has no holes or even light tears because this will reduce its efficiency.
Air filters are designed lock out airborne particles from the engine. However, it is useful to have an air filter which also protects from water. This is usually done by introducing oil to the surface of the filter. If you have an oil based filter, make sure the oil is thick enough so that it doesn’t get sucked into the engine along with dirt and dust.
Air filters are small but very crucial parts of a car’s engine. You would not like to be forced to inhale air filled with dust and dirt particles. Neither does your car. This part helps to clean the air going into the engine making sure all other parts continue to operate optimally.
The Toyota Genuine Parts Air Filter Element topped out list because it is the product which gives most value for money. You get 10 high-quality filters for under $20. This filter is easy to install and can be used with any major brand of engine oil.
Does an old air filter affect fuel consumption?
Yes. When the air filter is dirty, it becomes more difficult to get air into the engine. This means the engine has to work harder and use more fuel to produce the same power. It may not be evident in the beginning but as the filter gets more clogged, you will notice an increase in fuel consumption.
Replacing a dirty filter with a new, clean one can improve gas mileage by up to 10%.
Is it safe to drive a car without an air filter?
This can be quite risky because it leaves the engine exposed to dirt, dust and debris which may find its way into the system. When these are sucked in, they can cause damage to the internal parts of the engine such as cylinder walls, pistons and valves.
How often should I change my engine filter?
There is no period of time set in stone for all vehicles. Check your owner’s manual to find out what frequency is recommended by the manufacturer. Also do some research to find out what frequency is recommended by the manufacturer of the filter currently installed in your car.
Aside from these details, remember that if you often drive on rough or dusty roads, you may need to change the filter more frequently than recommended.
How do I know if my air filter is due for a change?
The most noticeable change is a reduction in engine power. You will also experience weaker acceleration and decreased throttle. Ignition problems might also be experienced. When you start the car it rolls over but very sluggishly.
How should reusable air filters be washed?
Use ordinary soap and water to wash the material than rinse it thoroughly. If it is extremely dirty use a degreaser to get rid of excess oil and dirt. Once it is clean let it air dry. Make sure it is completely dry before reinstalling it.
What are engine air filters made of?
They could be made of a variety of materials. These are paper, cotton, metal or foam.
Paper filters are what you often find in a new car. They are not durable so need to be changed over a short time.
A cotton filter is a piece of gauze with oil on it. Dirt and debris stick onto the oil so they cannot find their way into the engine. These are very durable.
Foam filters are made from foam material which is soaked in oil. They are commonly used in extremely dusty areas.
Metal air filters are made from stainless steel mesh material which is tightly woven so as to form a barrier where dirt and debris is caught. Metal filters are not as efficient as cotton filters because they cannot filter out very small particles.