Do I Need a Performance Air Filter?

Performance filters are the ideal choice for drivers who want to get the most out of their vehicle. Investing in one of these filters can help increase power and performance. While high-performance filters offer performance benefits, they usually don't filter contaminants more effectively than standard, high-quality air filters. A real-world test showed that the best-performing air filter on the market, the K&N filter, only lets in 0.14% more air than a standard paper filter.

This means that aftermarket high-performance air filters do work, but don't expect a huge increase in power when you press the accelerator. One of the advantages of a high flow air filter is that it doesn't need to be changed as often as a standard filter. All you have to do is clean it every two years or so since they don't get clogged as quickly or easily. Plus, they offer better airflow and better filtration of the air entering the engine.

This can lead to an increase in horsepower by 3 to 5 HP and improved fuel efficiency. In some of the more expensive units, the filter comes with a cold air intake unit which extracts air from outside the car instead of using warm air from inside the engine compartment. Cold air is denser and therefore burns better, thus improving engine performance. When choosing the right filter, you need to consider its maximum debris holding capacity before it starts to restrict airflow to the engine and its efficiency in protecting the engine while allowing enough air to arrive.

Cotton air filters, reusable synthetic air filters and standard paper air filters all provide excellent protection for your engine, but you will have to consider other factors when selecting one. If you don't protect it, you'll get more airflow at high velocity, but off the line, it can actually be a little slower to soak up the heat. K&N purchased the original red oil air filter for the automotive market and continues to innovate industry-leading filtration technology for vehicles around the world. Car air filters are designed to prevent harmful debris from reaching the engine and changing it isn't part of regular maintenance unless you have a high-flow air filter.

In an independent test, aftermarket air filters improved performance compared to new and dirty OEM filters (9.01 seconds from 20-60 mph and 3.61 seconds from 45-60 mph). A damaged air filter could also allow road debris to reach the engine and cause serious damage if not replaced or cleaned regularly. Foam filters such as those produced by ITG maximize airflow without causing a corresponding pressure drop. Installing high-performance air filters won't affect your warranty or insurance if you still have the factory filter, but cold air intake may cause you to lose your car warranty.

Paper air filters are discarded and replaced which not only costs more money but leads to more waste. If you have an unshielded cone filter, you will only get a good cold air flow to the filter when you are going very fast so a lot of air enters the engine.

Robert Smisek
Robert Smisek

Total twitter nerd. Typical food trailblazer. Avid food practitioner. Unapologetic web junkie. Freelance twitter evangelist. Passionate food advocate.

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