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Engine air filters are not the sexiest pieces of kit on your car. They look like tiny little accordions with all their pleats and folds, they are always a boring white color and… well, they’re just boring aren’t they.
But do you know what else they are? Bloody important! They play such a key role in keeping your car on the road, you should keep an picture of one up on the wall, right above the TV. Your engine needs air to operate, fact. Air filters ensure that air is as clean as possible, protecting your engine from getting gummed up with dust, dirt, debris – even flying insects, glass shards and all other kinds of crap that get kicked up from the road surface into your air intakes.
In this guide we’re going to take a look at some of the best air filters on the market today.
Best Rated Engine Air Filters in 2020:
Let’s kick off the list with this little number from EPAUTO. The first thing to note is that this is a Toyota specific air filter – however, you may end up picking up a Toyota just so you can buy this bad boy.
Ok, ok, that may be a bit of an exaggeration! But at the same this model boasts a number of very good features. First off just look at the thickness of this product. Whilst the most basic models of air filters are going to be of that concertina style of construction, that’s not the case with this air filter. It is nice and thick because it bringing a huge level of filtration material to the party.
That is going to provide a very high level of filtration, backing up the manufacturers claim that this product will seriously help to extend engine performance. You get all that for less than 10 bucks too.
Hmm… what was the number of that Toyota dealership again?
Extends Engine Performance
Great Protection From Dust & Dirt
- Weight5.6 Ounces
Ok, another Toyota specific air filter, and this one… hold up, does that say 10 pack? Of genuine Toyota air filters? And these are real, they’re not made of tissue paper and old elastic bands?
Ok look, here at Car Bibles we do out best to bring you some of the best bargains out there – but even by our standards this is crazy. This is a 10 pack of genuine Toyota parts, with a price tag of less than 15 bucks. That is insanely good value for such a clearly well put together product that will easily slot into your engine and go straight to work removing containments and raising engine effectiveness.
This is this kind of product that if you went to your Toyota dealership, they’d probably try to charge you about 100 bucks for. Honestly, I think we’re too good to you sometimes.
Genuine Toyota Replacement Part
Can be Used with all Major Engine Oil Brands
A 10 Pack of Filters!
- Weight6.6 Ounces
Our next product comes from FRAM who, lucky for us, are much better at making engine air filters than they are at coming up with names for their company. This is an air filter that boasts a few interesting points and claims, the stand out of which has to be the high level of engine protection this product provides.
It does in fact provide twice the engine protection, at least compared to a standard retail brand air filter. This is because these filters have been designed and built with an advanced filter media that has also been put thorough rigorous testing to ensure it is delivering the performance that they claim.
All in all this is a pretty interesting air filter then, clearly well designed to deliver top-level performance. At about 10 bucks or so per filter, it is not exactly the most expensive on the list either; so you are easily try out those claims for yourself.
Provides Double the Engine Protection
Easy Installation Instructions
12000-Mile Change Intervals
- Weight11.2 Ounces
This is our second air filter product from EPAUTO. Just like the first product we took a look at, it is a very good quality filter with some interesting features. It should be noted though that this is a product with wider applications that the last EPAUTO product, and this filter can be used not only in a number of Toyota vehicles but also in some Lexus, Jeep and Dodge vehicles too.
The big stand out with this product is those lovely deep pleats. They are great to see in an air filter as they are going to provide lots of surface area to trap containments and provide a really top level of filter to the air passing into the engine. That in turn is going to have a positive impact on engine performance.
This is another product rocking up with a price tag of about 10 bucks, so it’s by no means going to melt your credit card. Instead it’s a carefully designed, well-built auto air filter.
Wide Range of Models
- Weight12.8 Ounces
This is a replacement engine air filter designed for certain Honda models, so if you don’t drive a vehicle with that famous H carried on the front then feel free to move on to the next product on the list. If you are a Honda driver however then you may want to stick around.
This is, just as it proclaims on the box, a premium engine air filter. It has nice deep pleats to provide the maximum surface area on what is actually a pretty small filter. It is has also been specifically designed and engineered for use in Honda engines, ensuring an easy fit and perfect function during operation.
So to summarize, because of that specific engineering, this is not a product for non-Honda engines (and if you don’t drive a Honda, why are you still reading, huh?). This is however one of the best engine air filters for that model of car however, so if you drive one it could really pay off to check this product out.
Bespoke Honda Product
Factory Fit for Easy Install
High Quality Filtration
- Weight13.6 Ounces
This item here represents simply phenomenal good value. Once again, this is an item with a very set target audience, so if you don’t drive a Toyota feel free to mosey on down to another product.
If you do drive a Toyota however, this is a very interesting item. It is a Toyota OEM air filter. That means that this is the exact engine air filter that your car was packing when it rolled out of the factory. So what you are buying here is actually a direct replacement for the filter specifically designed to go into your vehicle. That means you know it’s going to do a good job, because it’s already doing one!
Why is it such good value? Well, you go to your local Toyota dealership to pick up one of these bad boys, and you will be paying a lot more than the sub 20-dollar price tag on this product here.
Toyota OEM Product
- Weight7.2 Ounces
Another entry from EPAUTO, and another engine air filter that is compatible over a fair few models of vehicle, mainly Hondas. Again, if this filter is a fit for your particular car then you’re getting a very good filter here.
It boasts the build quality you expect from EPAuto, along with a good set of pleated material for that all-important filtering power. What’s more, you are getting this at a substantial discount of what you would be paying your dealer or mechanic for an OEM product, with a price tag of around 10 bucks.
Of course, if you don’t drive a Honda that this model is built for, it’s pretty much useless to you. But we’re sure by now you’ve figured that out!
Lower Price Alternative to OEM
Quite Wide Vehicle Compatibility
Good Build Quality
- Weight12.8 Ounces
This product from ECOGARD is a little different to the bulk of models that we’ve seen on this list so far. As the observant amongst you will no doubt have noticed, this is a cone style engine air filter.
It is made bespoke for a number of engines across a range of Ford and Lincoln vehicles. If your engine needs a model of air filter of this style then, there is a lot to recommend this air filter. For one, it is really packing in a lot of pleats here, which are going to provide lots of surface area for efficient filtration.
In addition, and in common with air filters across the ECOGARD brand this model is specifically engineered and tested for use in the models it is designed for. That means an accurate fit to save you time during the changeover process, and a product designed to slot seamlessly straight into its role within the engine.
Factory Fit for Easy Install
Compatible with Multiple Models
- Weight12 Ounces
If you squint at the box this product comes in you will see a little Ford badge tucked away in the upper left corner. If you are therefore driving a Ford (and one of the models compatible with this product) then pull up a chair – if not then there’s not much here for you!
This is a premium engine air filter with a number of cool features, but the stand out really has to be the 98.5% efficiency as standard. That really is remarkable, and is the hallmark of a very well designed and manufactured product that will do a great job in your engine.
Again, just like any of the products on this list it’s only going to appeal if it fits your vehicle. If it does however then this is a very, very impressive engine air filter.
High Quality Filtration
Resistant to Temperature Extremes
- Weight1.2 Ounces
The final product to make the list brings back a manufacturer we saw earlier on – FRAM. They still have a stupid company name, but they are also still making high quality performance air filters.
This one boasts the same high quality construction as we saw on the previous model from FRAM. The filter is built of advanced material that is, according to FRAM, going to provide twice the filtration of the average retail brand air filter. It also, if you look closely, has both deep and extensive pleating that is going to throw a phenomenal amount of high quality filtration material in the way of all the air coming into your engine.
That’s very good news for you and your car – provided of course this model of filter fits your engine. Frankly, you kind of want to hope it does!
Advanced Filter Material
2x The Filtration of Standard Models
Very, Very Deep and Extensive Pleating
- Weight9.6 Ounces
Best Engine Air Filters Buying Guide & FAQ
What should you bear in mind when you’re selecting your new or replacement air filter then? Once you have got it, how do you install the thing – and how do you even know you need a new one in the first place?
In the next section we’ll answer those and many more questions to give you the knowledge you need to pick up the best engine air filter on the market today that meets your specific needs.
What to Consider When Buying Engine Air Filters
To be honest, these are pretty simple devices. There are no colors to choose from, broadly speaking materials are pretty limited too – and there is quite a bit of variation in terms of filter model design. That means that you have to choose a filter that fits your specific engine filter. That in turn means that you are quite limited in your options.
That being said, there are still some design features you should bear in mind when you are selecting the model of filter you want to purchase. They would be:
- Vehicle Manufacturer/Model – Perhaps more so than many other products we feature here at Car Bibles, you simply have to ensure you are getting a filter that is compatible with your vehicle. A good idea is to check out your filter before you go shopping for a replacement, so that you at least have an idea of its size and shape.
- Surface Area – Engine air filters have pleats, or folds, of material to act as their filter. It is pleated because the more surface area the filter provides the better as there is more material in place to form a barrier between the dirty air and the clean(ish) internal atmosphere of the engine. Bear in mind when you’re picking your model therefore that the more surface area the better, and the best way to squeeze in extra surface area is with lots of lovely pleats.
- Temperature Resistance – Some filters have higher temperature resistance than others. If you’re living in a part of the country where the mercury in your thermometer is constantly pushing upwards, perhaps look for a filter that boasts high temperature resistance amongst its features.
- Price – Air filters perform a vital function, but they are also pretty simple pieces of kit. To that end, don’t expect to have to drop upwards of 20 or 30 bucks max on a new one. The whole point of buying online and installing yourself is to save the high charges for a service & replacement parts from your dealership or mechanic.
Importance of Changing Engine Air Filters
Yes, they are cheap, but why go to the effort of tracking down the right model, then cracking open the trunk, opening up the filter housing and oh, what a pain in the backside, right?
Yes, and no. Changing an air filter isn’t one of the more fun jobs when it comes to vehicle maintenance. On the other hand, it is fast, it is easy and it is cheap. It also has a number of useful advantages, such as:
- Increased Performance – A shiny new air filter is going in increase airflow into the engine itself. Poor airflow can really affect performance (more on that below), so if you are seeing a loss of engine performance, it could be an idea to check out the old air filters.
- Easy Improvement – Next to spark plugs, there is probably no element of the vehicle that is so easy to replace that also has such a huge positive impact on performance. So perhaps if you’re looking to sell your car, and want it to perform at the highest level it can, investing 10 bucks in a new performance air filter could make the car run that bit better, and get you that sale.
- Engine Life Span – Finally, the air filter is there to filter out all the crap that could otherwise find it’s way into the engine. This is not just to increase performance (though it does do that) but also to stop all that trash getting into the engine block where it can start to gum up the workings. It’s much easier to change an air filter to deep clean a filthy engine.
Common Symptoms of a Bad Air Filter
So, you’ve seen the best models of air filter on the market, and we’ve explained why to make sense to replace your old air filter. But, you may be asking yourself, how do I know when it’s time for a new filter?
Well, thankfully there are few telltale symptoms that you can keep an eye out that will tell you the filter is on its deathbed. These include:
High RPM – A vehicle with a poor air filter will run at a higher RPM as it struggles to get power out of each revolution. Keep an eye on the car’s RPM meter then, and if you feel or hear it revving more aggressively than usual it could be an idea to check out the air filter.
Poor Acceleration – Another tell tale sign is sluggish acceleration, again because the vehicle will be struggling to get a useful supply of good, clean air. If you’re being beaten off the mark by your 90 year neighbor in her electric Rascal, do yourself a favor and pull out the air filter for a look see what’s going on.
Visual Inspection – If you’ve noticed either of the above, or even if you haven’t but want to see what’s going on, just pull out the filter for a visual inspection. See below for some tips on how to get the filter out of the engine, but broadly speaking it’s pretty straightforward. Remember that even if it’s pretty new, the filter will probably look quite dirty. The trick is to hold it up to a bright light source (the sun, a bulb in you garage, etc). If light is coming through, the filter is still fine. If little or no light can get through however, then it’s time for a new filter.
Best Engine Air Filter FAQ:
So, do you have any questions about air filters? Of course you do! Well roll up and take a peak at this section of our article. Right here we’re going to tackle some of the most frequently asked questions bout these useful little products, so sit, down, crack a beer and prepare to get educated.
Q: What is an engine air filter?
A: This is going to sound really weird, yes. But if you want to know what an engine air filter is then stop reading this for a second and stick your finger up your nose. Don’t worry; we’ll wait for you.
Done? Cool, well first of all congratulations on being a dumbass, but thank you for allowing us to demonstrate out point. Did you feel those hairs up your nose? They are your own, all organic engine air filters.
This all comes down to the way engines work. Just like you, an engine needs air and just like you it has ports to let that air in. You have nostrils, the car has cold air intakes. The hairs in your nostrils filter the air you breathe so it’s the first line of defense against particles in the air like dirt and dust. They help to keep your airways and lungs clean and clear so they operate better without being clogged with crap.
Engine air filters do exactly the same job for your car.
Q: How do I change an engine air filter?
A: The process of changing an engine air filter is actually very simple. From car to car there will be a few small differences. For example, in some models of car the housing that contains the filter will be secured with simple clips, in others you will need a screwdriver – broadly speaking though there is nothing here that will see you digging too deep into your tool chest.
Take out the filter and either discard it or try to clean it, then replace, seal up the housing and you’re all done.
Q: How frequently do I need to change engine air filters?
A: Your first step it to check out your vehicle’s user guide, which should give you a good idea of how often you need to change the filter.
The second recommendation is to keep an eye on the various ways we gave you above on how to look an air filter that is on its way out.
Finally there’s the golden old rule of thumb method, which states that most air filters are going to need replacing around the 15,000-mile mark. That is a very, very broad average of course, and certain conditions will have more of a negative impact on the filter’s condition – if you drive somewhere with frequent dust storms for example.
Changing out the filter is pretty easy, as is checking its condition though, so if you’re in doubt, crack the hood open and take the filter out for a quick look-see.
Our Top Pick
Our top picks usually combine both value for money with great performance, and using that criteria to judge, there can really only be one winner here – the EP AUTO GP171 Advanced Engine Air Filter. All that padding, a really premium build quality and a pretty long life span and, to top it all off, you even get change from a 10 dollar bill.
We did joke in the review that this product was so good it might make you go out and buy a Toyota just so you could use this product. Obviously, that’s crazy but if you are lucky enough to already own a Toyota, and it is a model that is compatible with this air filter, then frankly it would be crazy to not take advantage and pick up this air filter for yourself.