Cotton, Reusable Synthetic and Paper Air Filters
In order for you to know which type of air filter is right for you, it is necessary to have a basic understanding of each type air filter and how each one can benefit you. Reusable cotton air filters, reusable performance synthetic air filters and paper air filters each serve a purpose when used under the hood of your vehicle. They all filter the air to keep your engine life long and reputable brands do a good job filtering engine air. How do you learn more about air filter manufacturers? The Filter Manufacturers Council is a great start. It represents North American manufacturers of vehicular and industrial filtration products. Below are a few brands with aftermarket replacement air filters:
K&N Air Filters - Cotton Reusable Performance Filters
AEM Air Filters - Synthetic Reusable Performance Filters
Spectre Performance Air Filters - Oiled Synthetic Performance & Paper Disposable Filters
AIRAID Drop-in Replacement Air Filters
Filtros de Aire de Reemplazo K&N
Let's answer a few common air filter questions which may help clear up some of the confusion the next time you are faced with choosing the right aftermarket air filter for your vehicle.
What does a gas or diesel powered car, truck, SUV, motorcycle, ATV, UTV, personal water craft, RV, snowmobile, Semi-truck, lawn mower, generator and an RC car all have in common?
All of these vehicles require some type of air filter, whose purpose is to protect the engine from particulates that would otherwise damage it.
As mentioned above, your automotive air filter has the important responsibility of protecting your engine so it can continue to perform as expected. An air filter should allow air to pass through its filtering media while stopping harmful dirt and debris from entering the engine. Selecting the right air filter for your needs is critical.
Do all air filters accomplish the same thing?
No. There are several types of air filter materials such as paper, cotton, synthetic, foam and more. Each air filter media serves a specific purpose and performs well for that purpose. No matter which type of air filter material is used, it must be porous enough to allow the proper amount of air flow into the vehicle's engine so that it can ingest oxygen to function properly.
Air filter efficiency, air filter capacity, air filter price and air filter performance are some things to keep in mind when trying to differentiate one air filter type from another.
Air Filter Efficiency
The efficiency of an air filter can simply be explained as a measurement of filtration provided by the filter. Put another way, an air filter's efficiency determines how well the filter keeps particles out of your engine. Most air filter manufacturers try to achieve an efficiency that meets or exceeds OEM specifications. Much more than that can be overkill. As an air filter gets toward 100% efficiency it becomes difficult for air to flow which can rob your engine of power. An air filter with a higher than needed efficiency can rob your engine of power while not providing any extra benefit.
Air Filter Capacity
The capacity of an air filter is another crucial characteristic to understand. An air filter can only hold a certain amount of dirt and debris before it becomes clogged or too restrictive. A dirty air filter robs the vehicle's engine from the air flow it needs to perform properly. Some may experience negative effects in fuel economy or engine power loss. This is why air filters come with recommended service intervals or in some cases restriction gauges.
The simple definition of air filter capacity is the amount of dirt and/or debris an air filter can hold before it restricts air flow by a measured amount. An air filters recommended service interval is a good method for determining the filter capacity. A longer service interval indicates the air filter can hold more dirt therefore lasts longer before it needs to be serviced. In contrast, a shorter service interval indicates the air filter holds less dirt so service is needed more often.
Aftermarket Performance Air Filters
One characteristic quite valuable to high performance aftermarket air filter companies like K&N Air Filters, AEM Air Filters, Spectre Performance and AIRAID is air flow. Typically the less restrictive an air filter is, the better the engine will perform. An engine requires a specific amount of air flow and that is why you will see larger air filters used on larger engines. Typically the more surface area an air filter has the higher level of air flow it can achieve although the air filter material used plays an important role in air flow also. Restriction is not a friend to the combustion engine as it robs an engine of power by thinning otherwise dense oxygen rich air.
Air Filter Price
Price is another factor consumers look at when it is time to service an air filter. The long term cost of a filter with a long service life or one that is reusable may be far cheaper than that of a disposable filter which costs less initially. Quality is also a characteristic that goes hand in hand with price.