The 10 Best Engine Air Filters for Cars to Buy 2020


Getting your first car is probably the best feeling in the world, right? Maintaining your car might not be as fun but it is necessary. Getting your first car also comes with a learning curve on what to do and what not to do in order to keep it running efficiently.

For the amateur, you might think that an engine air filter isn’t something you should worry about. However, it’s as important as the engine itself. Not having the correct engine air filter could actually damage your engine permanently.

The basic function of an engine air filter is to prevent debris and harmful contaminants from entering your engine. Without this, your engine could get damaged and your car will no longer be able to run.

These filters need to be changed regularly, but what are the signs to tell you when it’s time to get a new filter? Take a look at the tell-tale signs in this next section.

Features to Consider in Good Engine Air Filters for Cars

Signs You Should Replace Your Engine Air Filter

It’s recommended that you should change your engine air filter every 10,000 to 15,000 miles. However, if you’re driving in an environment with a lot of dust and air pollution, you should change your filter more frequently.

Sometimes when your car starts acting up it can be difficult to tell what the problem is. There are a few signs to look out for indicating that it might be time to replace components.

Strange Engine Sounds

If your engine starts producing sounds that it never did before, it might be something to look into. The engine should have a subtle sound and low vibration. If your car has a heavy rumble and there are loud noises coming from your engine, it might be dirt clogging your filter.

Check Engine Light

Cars are designed to tell us when something is wrong. The most common indication that your engine isn’t running smoothly is when the ‘check engine light’ turns on. However, this light turns on for various reasons. Check that your air filter doesn’t need replacing first before you assume the worst.


If your air filter is dirty, chances are you’ll experience engine misfiring. A dirty air filter restricts air supply resulting in some fuel not burning up. This causes a dirty residue that accumulates on your spark plugs resulting in incomplete combustion inside the engine.

When this occurs you’ll experience engine misfire, jerking and your car might not start up easily.

Reduced Acceleration

Sometimes when your car isn’t accelerating properly and the horsepower has been reduced, it could be that the engine isn’t receiving enough air flow. A blockage in the air filter can cause your car to jerk roughly when you try accelerating.

A clean air filter will increase acceleration and horsepower as it improves airflow to the engine.

The Smell of Fuel

Do you smell gasoline every time you start your car? This happens when there isn’t enough air entering the fuel injection or (carburetor for older cars) when you start the ignition. You’ll experience this when the fuel that hasn’t been burnt up exits the car through the exhaust pipe.

When this happens you’ll experience a strong smell of gasoline.

Types of Engine Air Filters

Every car comes with an engine air filter but over time the filter will need to be replaced and changed on a regular basis. There are different types of engine air filters you can purchase. Let’s discuss a few.

Paper Air Filters
These are the types of filters that will come with your car. Paper filters are made from a porous type of material that is pleated and formed into a flat panel. These filters are not durable and will perish over a short period of time.

Cotton Air Filters

A cotton filter is an oiled piece of gauze. Debris and any impurities stick to the oil like glue so none of it passes through the cotton. However, the oil can be drawn into the flow center which can cause problems.

Cotton air filters are quite durable and hardly ever need replacing. However, you will have to clean it regularly and replace the oil on the cotton.

Foam Air Filters

This type of filter is made from a special foam material that’s soaked in oil. They don’t filter as well as the paper and cotton filters. They’re usually only used in places that are extremely dusty or polluted.

These filters usually don’t have as many issues with the air flow sensors as the cotton filters do.

Metal Air Filters

Metal air filters are made from tightly woven stainless steel mesh material. They don’t need to be oiled and don’t possess the same qualities as the other filter materials do. Metal air filters aren’t capable of filtering out smaller particles of debris. This runs the risk of your engine getting damaged.

Now let’s look at a few options on the current market.

Top 10 Best Engine Air Filters for Cars 2020

1. FRAM CA10755 Extra Guard Panel Air Filter

Why we like it: The Fram extra guard comes with double the air filtering action which means your engine is safe from all those pesky particles.

Editor’s rating:

If you enjoy the simplicity of installation then you’ll love how easy it is to fit this filter into your car. How about the maintenance of your filter? No worries because the Fram extra guard requires little to no maintenance. What’s more is it’s easy to understand the instructions on the package itself.

What Type of Filter is it?
The Fram CA10755 is made from a paper material that has been tried and tested vigorously to ensure durability. It has a bright orange rubber frame with white paper panels. This is for those people who want the interior of their cars to be more stylish.

This is a disposable filter which will need to always be changed at the end of its lifespan or after every car service to ensure maximum protection for your vehicle’s engine.

When to Change this Filter
Fram recommends that you change your filter every 12,000 miles or once every year. You can follow the manufacturer’s guide book on when and how to change your Fram filter regularly.

This air filter increases your car’s overall horsepower which makes acceleration a breeze. Your engine runs smoothly as the filter absorbs twice as much debris and particles as other filters do. This means that your engine will have maximum protection and it will run a lot smoother.

It will also expand the longevity of your engine as it keeps it clean and saves on expensive car maintenance.

Before purchasing this item, make sure the dimensions are the correct fit for your vehicle. However, this filter fits most modern vehicles. It comes at a weight of 12.8oz and the dimensions are 10.3″ x 2.1″ x 10.8″.

  • Increases horsepower
  • Low maintenance
  • Traps more particles
  • It’s not reusable
  • Not sturdy enough

2. K&N 33-2129 High Performance Replacement Air Filter

Why we like it: The K&N 33-2129 increases airflow of up to 50% with its premium cotton filtration. This filter also increases your vehicle’s horsepower.

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There will be no more hassles when it comes to installing this air filter as its easy to understand instruction manual will guide you through all the steps fast.

What Type of Filter is it?
The K&N 33-2129 is made from a durable polyurethane frame which means it won’t snap or bend when you’re installing the filter. The K&N is also made with premium cotton which is washable and reusable. It also has an airtight edged seal for maximum filtration.

When to Change this Filter
With the K&N 33-2129, you only have to change or wash the filter every 50,000 miles. It comes with an instruction manual and cleaning kit for when you want to clean or change your filter.

This engine air filter is washable and reusable which saves you having to buy a new filter. The K&N 33-2129 is economical and safe to use. It’s easy to install as it’s designed to fit into any vehicle factory air box.

It provides excellent filtration from harsh elements that can contaminate your engine. It saves you time and money so it’s extremely economical.

The added cleaning kit helps you safely wash and refurbish your filter back to its original state so your filter can continue to combat those contaminants.

The K&N 33-2129 weighs in at about 1.65lb and has dimensions of 12.1″ x 18.2″ x 1.8″. This filter has an airtight seal and is designed to fit any modern vehicle. When it’s time to wash the filter you can use the K&N cleaning kit that comes with the filter.

  • Easy to install
  • Comes with a cleaning kit
  • Made with durable material
  • May be hard to clean
  • The filter doesn’t capture moisture

3. EPAuto Air filter

Why we like it: The EPAuto air filter is designed to fit in most modern cars and it’s made from the best material on the market.

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This air filter helps extend the performance of your vehicle and it protects your engine against the harshest elements.

What Type of Filter is it?
The EPAuto air filter is made with durable premium cotton which is weather resistant. It also has a sturdy plastic frame which is designed to let air pass through easily without the filter coming loose.

This is a disposable filter which means it can’t be used after your 12,000 mile point. You will need to replace the filter with a new one after its lifespan ends.

When to Change this Filter
This engine air filter is designed to be changed every 12,000 miles. However, it’s recommended that you check the filter at the 10,000 mile mark, especially if you travel in dusty areas.

The EPAuto air filter is durable which requires low maintenance. It helps increase your vehicle’s performance and acceleration & it improves your fuel mileage. It’s easy to install as the instructions are concise and user-friendly.

This air filter provides maximum filtration to protect your vehicle from any impurities such as dust, pollen pollution and sand.

The EPAuto air filter is made from the best quality materials to ensure the safety and protection of your engine at all times. This saves on future maintenance and saves you money as it extends the lifespan of your engine.

The EPAuto weighs 6.4oz and comes with the dimensions of 11.8″ x 7.8″ x 2″. It’s designed to fit most cars but mostly the Toyota car brand. Check the exact dimensions of your filter housing to makes sure the filter fits perfectly.

  • Durable
  • Increases airflow
  • Improves mileage
  • It’s disposable
  • Imperfect fit

4. ECOGARD XA10467 Premium Engine Air Filter

Why we like it: The ECOGARD XA10467 ensures that your engine is protected at all times. It saves you time and money making it extremely economical.

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This air filter requires little to no tools to install which saves you time. It also optimizes your vehicle’s performance and increases the airflow to your engine.

What Type of Filter is it?
The ECOGARD XA10467 is an OEM (Original Equipment Market) filter made from durable high fiber paper that collects even the smallest of particles. It has a sturdy frame for easy installation and it fits perfectly into the filter compartment.

This is a disposable air filter and will need to be replaced once your vehicle reaches the 12,000 mile mark.

When to Change this Filter
ECOGARD recommends that you change this air filter every 12,000 miles for optimized engine protection.

It decreases engine wear and increases your vehicle’s horsepower and acceleration. It provides sufficient airflow to your engine while still protecting it from harmful contaminants. A bonus is that it doesn’t take long to install as it’s user-friendly and the instructions are easy to understand.

This air filter is made with quality material for durability and optimum protection. This saves you money on regular services and ensures that your engine is always protected from harsh elements.

This air filter weighs 13.6oz and the dimensions are 11.2″ x 7.5″ x 1.9″. This product can be installed in most modern vehicles but it’s mainly used for Honda cars. Check your housing specs before purchasing a filter to ensure the filter will fit perfectly inside your vehicle.

  • Optimizes vehicle performance
  • User-friendly
  • Durable
  • No warranty

5. Mann Filter C 3698/3-2 Air Filter Element

Why we like it: The Mann C3698/3-2 engine air filter is designed to increase your vehicle’s overall performance and provide your engine with maximum protection in any weather conditions.

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By changing your engine air filter it can improve your vehicle’s mileage up to 10%. The Mann C3698/3-2 ensures that only clean air flows through your engine at all times.

What Type of Filter is it?
The Mann C3698/3-2 air filter is made from premium embossed paper that is pleated in such a way that it stops small particles from entering your engine. The frame is made from durable flexible plastic for easy installation. The frame also ensures the stability of the air filter. It will not crack or tarnish under pressure.

It also has a patented foam seal which provides an airtight fit

When to Change this Filter
It’s recommended that you change this engine air filter every 12,000 miles. However, you should check the filter regularly simply to make sure everything is running smoothly.

The Mann C3698/3-2 stops even the smallest of particles from entering your engine such as sand, dust, soot and any type of moisture. It ensures that clean air flows through the engine which optimizes combustion. This engine air filter also improves your vehicle’s mileage and increases horsepower.

The Mann air filter weighs 1.2lb and the dimensions are 14″ x 5.3″ x 2″. This product is designed to fit in any vehicle filter housing; however, it’s always best to check the dimensions first before purchasing an air filter to make sure it fits your vehicle’s specifications.

  • Provides protection against moisture
  • Durable material
  • Ensures no noisy sounds coming from the engine
  • High maintenance
  • Needs to be changed often

6. Purolator Auto Air Filters

Why we like it: Pulorator is one of the well-known brands on the market as the company has been around for many years. The brand produces high-quality filters for increased durability which saves on costs. This is one of their most respected units.

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Although this product is made from the highest quality materials, it’s inexpensive which is added value for money. The Purolator is also easy to install so even amateurs are able to fit the filter into their vehicles hassle free.

What Type of Filter is it?
The Pulorator air filter is made from high density and high fiber treated paper that is tightly pleated for maximum engine protection. It has a durable rubber frame that’s flexible which helps fit the filter into the compartment easily. The frame is also airtight to ensure no particles go through any openings.

When to Change this Filter
This is a disposable filter which needs to be changed every 12,000 miles or once a year depending on which areas you drive in regularly. In dusty regions you’ll have to do it more often.

The Purolator air filter reduces engine wear providing clean airflow at all times. It traps up to 99% of harmful contaminants such as pollen, debris, sand, dust, soot and fibers from entering your engine.

This product boosts the acceleration of your vehicle by 11%. It also improves your vehicle’s mileage and overall engine performance.

The Purolator engine air filter weighs 1.2lb and has dimensions of 10.6″ x 2.6″ x 12.8″. This product is designed to fit in any vehicle air filter housing. Check your housing dimensions before purchasing a filter to avoid incorrect filter fittings.

  • Easy to install
  • Inexpensive
  • Airtight seal
  • It’s disposable

7. Toyota Genuine Parts17801-YZZ02 Air Filter

Why we like it: The Toyota Genuine air filter is an OEM product which means it fits perfectly inside the air filter housing of your vehicle.

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Although this is a Toyota product, it can also be used on other oil motor vehicles. It’s a high-quality brand that’s effective and provides optimal protection to any automotive engine.

What Type of Filter is it?
The Toyota Genuine air filter is made from the best quality cotton which is set in three different layers. It is soaked in dense quality oil which contaminants and debris stick to.

It has a durable polyurethane resin frame, which is easy to fit and tight enough not to let any particles through. It’s white in color so you can easily see when it needs to be changed.

When to Change this Filter
Depending on the driving conditions this air filter should be changed every 30,000 miles or every three months.

The Toyota Genuine air filter allows your engine to run smoothly without any noise. It’s excellent value for money as it’s durable and provides low maintenance. The filter is made with the highest quality materials to ensure your engine’s overall health.

You can use any oil brands with this filter as long as it’s high quality—make sure you don’t compromise the filter’s function. This product will definitely improve your vehicle’s overall performance and protect your engine from wear.

The Toyota Genuine air filter weighs 0.96oz and the dimensions are 11.7″ x 8″ x 1.8″. This product can be used with Toyota oil brands or you can use other high quality oil brands for this filter.

  • Can be used with other brand vehicles
  • Easy to install
  • Provides maximum engine protection
  • Doesn’t protect the engine from water contaminates
  • It’s disposable

8. ACDelco Car Air Filters

Why we like it: The Toyota Genuine air filter is an OEM product which means it fits perfectly inside the air filter housing of your vehicle.

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The ACDelco engine air filter is designed to protect your engine from the harshest of elements and it increases your engine’s life span

What Type of Filter is it?
The ACDelco is made from high-quality synthetic foam that traps even the smallest particles from contaminating your engine. It has a durable rubber frame that fits into any motor vehicle filter housing. The frame is airtight ensuring that nothing passes through any openings.

When to Change this Filter
The ACDelco team recommends that you change your filter every once a year or every time your car is due for a service.

Due to the filter’s highly pleated material, it extends the life of your engine as it provides maximum protection against contamination. It has an airtight seal to make sure no unwanted debris enters the engine through any openings.

This filter is mainly used in high-performance vehicles as they tend to absorb more dust and dirt into the filtration systems. This means that it provides optimal protection for normal cars on the road.

The ACDelco air filter boosts your vehicle’s acceleration and lowers the sound of any engine noises. This air filter makes sure your engine is protected at all times, increases your engine’s lifespan and optimizes its performance.

This product weighs 9.6oz and the dimensions are 12.8″x 12.5″ x 3.2″. It is also an OEM product which means it can be installed in any vehicle.

  • High-quality material
  • Can be used by high-performance cars and normal cars
  • Increases engine life
  • Comes with no factory part numbers on the product

9. Cleenaire EAF11712 Engine Air Filter

Why we like it: The Toyota Genuine air filter is an OEM product which means it fits perfectly inside the air filter housing of your vehicle.

Editor’s rating:

This air filter is user-friendly and fits easily into any filter housing. It optimizes clean airflow and decreases the amount of debris coming through your engine. This prolongs the life of your engine and balances out your fuel injection.

What Type of Filter is it?
The Cleenaire is made from the finest high fiber material that traps particles from entering the engine system. It has a tight rubber seal that fits perfectly into any housing system and therefore stops smaller particles from going through any unwanted openings.

The material used is durable and safe for any vehicle & it’s a cost effective buy.

When to Change this Filter
Cleenaire suggests you change your filter at the 12,000 mile mark to avoid any unwanted damage to your engine. It’s not a reusable filter so it must be changed when necessary.

The Cleenaire engine air filter is extremely economical and it’s compatible with all vehicles. It provides proper airflow to your engine and protects it from any harmful particles.

This air filter increases acceleration up to 11% and increases your MPG (miles per gallon) to 2 MPG. This air filter also reduces your vehicle’s toxic emission which prevents your fuel injection from running too rich.

The Cleenaire engine filter weighs 12.8oz and the dimensions are 11.5″ x 7.6″ x 2″. This filter is compatible with most vehicles and will fit easily into any housing case.

  • Increases horsepower
  • Improves mileage
  • Durability
  • It’s only made for specific Mazda vehicles
  • Isn’t reusable

10. Genuine Subaru 16546AA10A Element Air Cleaner

Why we like it: The Genuine Subaru 16546AA10A is made from premium material ensuring the quality and durability of your air filter.

Editor’s rating:

Although it’s made with the best materials on the market, it’s still an inexpensive filter making it better value for money. It’s also easy to install which saves you time.

What Type of Filter is it?
This air filter is an OEM manufactured and it’s made from excellent quality synthetic fiber. It has a sturdy polyurethane resin frame capable of fitting into any housing compartments. Because the frame is airtight, there are no unwanted openings for debris to get through.

The frame also reduces engine noises which help your vehicle run smoothly.

When to Change this Filter
You should change this filter every 30,000 miles which saves you having to change the filter in short intervals.

It’s a low maintenance product which saves you time and money on unnecessary services. You’ll see it’s easy enough to install yourself which saves you having to go to a mechanic to get the filter changed.

Because of its triple layer filter elements, it’s able to trap the smallest of particles. It increases your vehicle’s overall performance and ensures the safety & longevity of your engine.

The Genuine Subaru 16546AA10A is a reliable and effective engine air filter designed to withstand the harshest environments. It also improves your mileage and increases vehicle horsepower.

This product weighs 1lb and the dimensions are 8.9″ x 8.8″ x 1.5″. It also includes a cover. This air filter is an OEM product which means it will fit perfectly into your vehicle’s housing compartment with no installation hassles.

  • Easy to install
  • Airtight fitting
  • Quality material
  • It’s non-reusable

Guide to Buying the Best Engine Air Filters for Cars

Now that you know which are the best brands to buy on the market you still need to check which brands are compatible with your vehicle and consider other vital points. Let’s give you a summary on how to pick the best unit for your vehicle.

Brand Compatibility

It’s important to buy the right product that will fit your vehicle’s specifications. Although most engine air filters fit most car models it’s always wise to check and identify the correct model number of your vehicle. This helps you find the right air filter for your car.

It’s always best to purchase engine air filters that are originally manufactured for your car. This ensures that the filter fits perfectly into the housing compartment of your vehicle. The added benefit to this is it reduces any noise as the filter will be tightly fitted.

Material Used for the Surface Area

You want to purchase a filter that will trap as much debris and contaminants as possible. You will need to look at the materials made for the filter’s surface area.

The best filters to purchase are the ones that have more grooves as this design is capable of entrapping more particles and contaminants. You should avoid purchasing flat surface designs as they’re prone to be ineffective when filtering out contaminants.

Disposable Vs Reusable

Reusable Engine Air Filters
If you’re looking to save on money purchasing a reusable air filter could be an investment. They are low in maintenance and they are made with washable cotton material. With these filters, you’re able to remove them and wash them every 12,000 miles.

Reusable filters are more durable and can last up to three to four washes. However, you need to be careful with these filters as they need to be cleaned sufficiently and dried properly before reinstalling. Make sure there are no holes or imperfections before placing it back into your vehicle.

These air filters can be a bit pricey but are an overall investment.

Disposable Engine Air Filters

Disposable air filters are usually a lot cheaper. These filters need to be changed after every 12,000 miles or after a year’s use. They are usually made from resin or a durable paper that captures impurities.

These filters are not durable hence why they need to be thrown away after their lifespan is up. Failing to do so will result in the filter breaking which will expose your engine to harmful contaminants. This will damage your engine and it will cost you a lot of money to replace it.

Check your air filter regularly and change your disposable product as soon as it’s time for vehicle service.

Protection from Liquid Damage

Although air filters are designed to entrap airborne particles you should also ensure that it protects your engine from other elements as well. Purchasing a filter that’s also capable of protecting your engine from water is something you need to look in to.

When it rains heavily, the filter must be able to stop water from entering your engine.

If you also have an oil based air filter, you should make sure that the oil is dense enough not to be sucked into the engine along with the contaminants it’s supposed to prevent getting into your engine.

How to Change Your Engine Air Filter

When you’ve found the correct engine air filter product for your car and you don’t want to go to a mechanic to change it, you can easily do it yourself. Here is a step by step guide on how you can change your own engine air filter.

  1. Open the hood of your car and locate your filter box. Usually, the filter box is black and will either be on the top of your engine or on one side of it.
  2. You will need to open the filter box to replace the dirty air filter. This is quite easy to do, as there are metal clips holding the lid of the box closed. Simply unclip the clasps to reveal the filter inside.
  3. If the filter inside is dirty, unclip it from the housing and throw it away.
  4. Clean the housing area before placing the new filter.
  5. Clip the new filter inside the housing.
  6. Make sure it fits tightly and there are no openings or imperfections in the filter.
  7. Put the lid back on the housing and clip the clasps back into place.

Benefits of Changing Your Air Filter

Changing your air filter is not only important for the overall health of your engine, but it can also improve the performance of your vehicle, so you may notice some of the following.

Reduces Fuel Consumption

When your filter is dirty or your engine has been contaminated, it will increase your fuel consumption. If you don’t’ want to spend a fortune on fuel, it’s wise to change your filter.

Boosts Acceleration

Changing a dirty filter is known to increase the horsepower of your vehicle. This increases your vehicle’s acceleration up to 11%.

Reduced Emissions

A dirty air filter will affect your vehicle’s emission control which will produce the incorrect air to fuel ratios. Changing your air filter regularly will increase clean airflow to your engine which will improve the vehicle’s performance.

Saves you Time and Money

Changing your air filter regularly will improve the longevity of your engine. It will save you a lot of money if you look after your engine as it can be quite costly to replace.

Final Words

It may seem like cars are high in maintenance however it can save you a lot of hassle if you take care of your vehicle regularly. Always tend to your vehicle when it needs a service and make sure you always change the filter when it’s dirty.

Filters are inexpensive and durable. It’s imperative that you always make sure you purchase the correct filter for your car to save your engine from getting damaged.

It can be quite fun changing the filter yourself, as it’s so easy to do. So check your filter and always record when it’s time to get a new one. It’s a simple process with huge benefits for your vehicle—and now you know how to pick the ideal one for yours.