Most people know the importance of getting their oil changed and other regular maintenance. One often overlooked part, however, is the air filter. The filter in your car plays an incredibly important role in keeping things working well, and replacing it frequently is just as important as regular oil changes. With this in mind, we set out to find the best air filter for your car on the market.
Below you’ll find our reviews of several different filters, as well as a small guide to help you pick the right one.
Best Air Filters
|Spectre 9132||Custom Intakes Only||8x8x6 inches||1.1 pounds||Check Price|
|K&N Drop In Air Filter||Ford Focus, Volvo C30, S40, V40, and V50, Mazda 3, and Mazda 5||2.4 x 2.7 x 4.6 inches||1 pound||Check Price|
|Mann-Filter C25||BMW||7.1 x 9.7 x 2.7 inches||9.6 ounces||Check Price|
|EPAuto GP918||Toyota, Lexus, 4 Runner, Land Cruiser, Sequoia, GX470, LX470||12.7 x 9.4 x 2.2 inches||1.05 pounds||Check Price|
|EPAuto CP285||Toyota, Lexus, Scion, Subaru||8.2 x 7.6 x 1.3 inches||6.4 ounces||Check Price|
Table of Contents:
- Spectre 9132 Universal Clamp-On – Maximum Performance for Custom Intakes
- K&N Drop – Excellent Long Lasting
- Mann-Filter C25 – Powerful Filtration for Maximum Engine Life
- EPAuto GP 918 – Most Affordable
- EPAuo CP285 – For Cleaner Air Inside your Vehicle
- Things to Know About Car Air Filters
- Best Air Filter for Your Car
Spectre 9132 Universal Clamp-On – Maximum Performance for Custom Intakes
If you have or are planning to set up aftermarket intakes for your engine, then this is the kind of filter you probably want to be looking at. These Spectre are easy to install and simply clamp onto any engine intakes that are smaller than three inches in diameter.
They draw air in from all directions and are designed to offer top of the line performance. Their design allows them to draw in tons of air, making them great for powerful motors. The 9132 is made from washable synthetic materials which makes it a great long term investment.
Also, since many custom intake systems position the filter in a place where it is visible, the Spectre 9132 comes in four different colors. It’s available in either white, black, blue, or red. The Spectre even comes factory oiled to make installation just a little easier and performance that much higher.
If your car has a custom intake, then this is the best one available. Washable, pre-oiled, and high performance.
Our Rating: 9/10
- Incredibly high air-flow
- Available in three colors
- Must be put on custom intakes
- Must be oiled after washing
- Requires washing more frequently than traditional filters
- Very high-performanced designed to easily fit custom intakes
- Looks great and is even available in four different colors
- Washable, making it a great value over time, and comes pre-oiled
K&N Drop – Excellent Long Lasting
If you own a Ford Focus, Volvo, or Mazda then you need to check this out. It’s a little on the pricey side of things, but it’s absolutely worth it.
Usually, air filters need to be replaced, or cleaned if they are washable, every 12,000 miles. The K&N drop in lasts 50,000 miles before it even needs to be washed. Then, it’s just a matter of taking it out, washing it off with water, letting it dry, and dropping it back in. In many of the vehicles, it fits you don’t even need tools to take the filter out.
With just a few washes, it will most likely last you the entire life of your vehicle. In fact, it comes with a one million mile warranty. That’s right, K&N backs them for a million miles.
The filter itself runs very well too. It is made from a cotton medium that offers great airflow and increases horsepower and fuel efficiency over standard ones. It also boasts a custom engineered airtight seal around the edge that prevents any particles of dust from slipping their way around it and into the engine.
Our Rating: 9/10
- One million mile warranty
- Cotton media for high airflow
- Only fits very specific makes and models
- Slightly difficult installation for some due to relatively large size
- Frame can wear out before filter
- Incredible washable one that will likely last you the entire lifetime of your vehicle
- Custom made airtight gasket around the frame to offer excellent filtration
- Cotton filter media offers excellent performance and can improve horsepower and efficiency
The last pair of we looked at were oriented towards performance. They use cotton filtration media that makes them washable, and also allows them to take in lots of air very quickly. This is awesome when it comes to performance and even fuel efficiency, but cotton doesn’t have the greatest filtration properties.
If you’re looking for something that focuses on filtration quality over tons of intake, then the Mann-Filter C25 is ideal for you. This is made from paper, as odd as that sounds, and boasts dense and thick pleats to offer optimal filtration performance.
A filter like this can help extend the overall life of your vehicle by preventing the ingress of outside particles such as dust and dirt. By doing an exceptional job of keeping these foreign objects out of your car’s engine and other parts this can help reduce everyday wear and tear from building up over time.
These filters fit most models of BMW, and is actually th one that most BMWs will come up with straight from the factory.
Our Rating: 8/10
- Optimum filtration
- Help improve engine life
- OEM filter for many BMWs
- Not washable
- Must be replaced every 12000 miles
- Only fits some makes and models
- Paper designed for powerful filtration and keeping as much of the dust and dirt that your vehicle goes through every day out of the components
- Offers decent airflow, but is not washable and should be replaced every 12,000 miles
- Helps extend the life of your engine by keeping the internal components as clean as possible
EPAuto GP 918 – Most Affordable
If you’re someone who’s responsible enough to make sure to change your filter every 12000 miles, but doesn’t want to break the bank with the constant replacements, then the EPAuto GP918 is for you.
This is the most affordable one on our list and fits into a variety of vehicles. While inexpensive, this filter is one of the highest rated ones you’ll find on Amazon. It uses a basic paper style construction with a medium density of surface area.
The frame makes a decent seal to prevent small particles from being sucked in from around the filter. Replacing your filter with one of these regularly will not only be affordable, but will also improve your vehicle’s performance.
If you’re running on an older ones right now, then switching to a clean filter like this one will likely make a noticeable difference in acceleration and efficiency.
Our Rating: 8/10
- Highly rated
- Fits many vehicles
- Not washable
- Must be replaced every 12000 miles
- Not the greatest airflow
- Most affordable on our list, making it great for those who regularly change their filter but want to save money
- Simple construction performs decently well
- Can improve performance on vehicles with old gunked up filters
EPAuto CP285 – For Cleaner Air Inside you Vehicle
While most of them we looked at are to keep the air going into the engine clean, there is another kind of filters. One that is designed to keep the air going into you clean!
These are typically stowed away somewhere in the vehicle, usually the glove compartment, rather than under the hood. They filter the air going through the car’s HVAC system and ensure that it is fresh and easy to breath. These kinds also need occasional replacement, and can also offer performance improvements.
This filter uses activated carbon to offer premium filtration to keep allergens out of the air you breathe in your vehicle. It also fits a ton of different vehicles and is even highly affordable.
As a vehicles ages and you begin to notice that your car’s heating or conditioning aren’t working quite like they used to then this is one possible solution. If the air inside your vehicle feels stale and the vents aren’t blowing very hard, then this is something you should definitely check out.
If you want to make the inside of your car feel fresh and almost like new, then forego the smelly freshener and try out one of these.
Our Rating: 8/10
- Offers clean air for driver and passengers
- Very inexpensive
- Easy to replace
- Not washable
- Most likely won’t improve engine performance
- Won’t fit most larger vehicles
- Keeps the air inside your vehicle crisp and easy to breath thanks to activated carbon filtration
- Very inexpensive way to make the interior of your vehicle more comfortable
- Might not improve engine performance but will make your interior feel fresh
Things to Know About Car Air Filters
There are several types of filters and a few things you should know before you dive in and make a purchase. First, we’ll look at the two major types, then discuss the all-important aspect of making sure you get the right one to suit your needs.
Washable vs. Paper
The first thing to know about car air filters is what kind you actually want. These days there are two types of them, washable ones and paper ones. Washable like the first two on our list are generally more expensive.
However, this is in terms of upfront cost. Paying more now for a washables can save you big time in the future. Paper filters need to be replaced frequently and although they cost less, the cost can stack up quickly.
The second thing to consider is performance. Filters allow clean fresh air to pass through into your engine while keeping out particles of dust and dirt. Papers actually do a better job of keeping things out of your engine, while washable, which are typically made of cotton, are better at letting gas through.
What this means for you is that washables technically have superior performance. More air into the engine means greater horsepower, better fuel economy, and overall better performance for your vehicle.
However, the superior filtration of paper filters can improve the actual life of your engine. Small particles working their way into the engine can quickly wear down key components. By keeping these particles out more efficiently, papers present an advantage for engine lifespan.
Making Sure the Filter Will Fit
Arguably the most important part of buying a new air filter for your vehicle is making sure it will actually fit your vehicle. Unfortunately, there is no standardized shape and size of items that will fit all vehicles, making purchasing the right one confusing at times.
Luckily, if you head over to the Amazon page for any of these filters you’ll find that they have an easy to use tool to help you out. At the top of the page is a drop-down menu that lets you select the year, make, and model of your car.
This tool can then tell you whether the filter you are looking at will fit your vehicle or not. We urge you to check with this tool even if this article lists your vehicle as a compatible model. Depending on the year, sometimes even supported cars and models won’t work with certain types.
How often do I need to replace my car air filter?
Most manufacturers will suggest that you replace your filter every 12000 miles. Check your vehicles manual and the box of the air filter that is currently in your car to make sure, but 12000 is the general suggestion offered for most car owners. Some, however, can go as long as 50000 miles without needing to be replaced or cleaned, like the K&N drop in filter we looked at.
Why do some filters have oil?
Some, such as the Spectre we looked at, have an oil coating. The oil helps particles adhere to the filter before they get sucked into the engine. This offers better performance that simply cotton alone while still being washable.
Best Air Filter for Your Car
Changing out the air filter in your car regularly is a commonly overlooked piece of maintenance. Putting in a fresh one is easy and only takes a few minutes, and sometimes doesn’t even require tools.
We hope our reviews have been helpful, and the included guide has given you a clear idea of what to look for in your next air filter.