10 Best Engine Air Filters for Cars

best engine air filters

An Engine air filter is that little component in your car which provides fresh and filtered air to your car’s engine.

You can think of it as the lungs of a car whose job is to clean the atmospheric air from dust particles or other contaminations before it goes into the engine, which you can assume as the car’s heart. So that is to say that air filters are very important for your vehicle to run efficiently.

Although cars come fitted with OEM filters, there are lots of high-quality aftermarket filters that can boost the performance of your car. We have done the hard part of gathering information about the best air filter out there for you to choose from.

Disclaimer – This article may contain affiliate links, this means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for qualifying purchases.

Best Overall

Mann-Filter Engine Air Filters

Mann-Filter Engine Air Filters
  • Great Filtering
  • Affordable
  • Wide vehicle range

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Best Performance

K&N High-Performance Engine Air Filter

K&N High-Performance Engine Air Filter
  • Increase horsepower
  • No maintenance
  • Cost-effective

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Best Budget

FRAM Engine Air Filter

FRAM Engine Air Filter
  • Very affordable
  • Wide vehicle range
  • Good filtering

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The Best Engine Air Filters for Cars in 2021

1. Mann-Filter Engine Air Filters

Mann-Filter Engine Air Filters

Mann filters are one of those brands which will want you to test it in your vehicle when you see it. It is one of the popular brands like FRAM. Although when it comes to the price, Mann costs slightly higher than FRAM but claims 100% on its quality and performance. Unlike FRAM, Mann filter doesn’t have a color scheme but who cares about the colors anyway?

Mann is no doubt a premium quality air filter your car would love to have.
Mann has a wide range of filters which range differently in quality as well as pricing although that doesn’t imply Mann has low-quality filters too. The actual deal is that these filters vary in price and quality according to a car’s make and model.

You can expect the same from all Mann filters. Catching tiny dust particles and debris to not compromise engine performance.

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  • Great Stability
  • Affordable
  • High filtering
  • Reducing Intake Noise
  • Good Flow rate


Too slow flowrate for high performance cars.

2. K&N High-Performance Engine Air Filter

K&N High-Performance Engine Air Filter

K&N is a name simply associated with pure performance. K&N filters are purposed a little different than other filters. They are made to serve the very purpose of boosting your car’s performance. The primary purpose is not just a simple filter but a performance-oriented filter to make your car fly. K&N filters take a different approach. These filters are oiled which actually increases the airflow when compared to dry air filters. The making consists of cotton and cloth used together to make the filtering just perfect and accurate.

With these advantages and upgrades, a little maintenance is added too. K&N oiled filters are required to be oiled again after being used for more than 30,000 miles. That will ensure that the filter keeps performing to its fullest.

A simple concept that the more air engine gets, the more fuel is added to the mixture and the more power the engine outputs. And as we mentioned earlier, how the job of K&N filter is to boost the performance relates to this. K&N filters increase the air intake which in return boosts your car’s given output. With all that raw power, you would want to go fast and K&N filters should make it possible for your car.

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  • Really high flow for high performance
  • Increase horsepower
  • No replacement needed
  • Can create cool sound from the intake
  • ECO friendly
  • Saves money


  • Oil can damage the MAF sensor
  • Filtering less than normal filter

3. FRAM Engine Air Filter

FRAM Engine Air Filter

FRAM is a name well known. It stands as one of the high-quality manufacturers of air filters for cars. So if you are looking for an air filter for your car, you need to look no further as FRAM has you covered. FRAM has in store all kinds of filters of various fittings and sizes. You will not have a problem in finding the best fit for your particular car’s make and model. FRAM filters are known for their unique color blend consisting of white and orange color which makes their presence known to everyone peeking inside the hood. The housing of the filter is usually colored orange while the filter itself gets the white color.

FRAM makes their filters look distinct from many other air filter makers and even OEM filters. The filter has cardboard feel to it, featuring a wavy pattern in the middle (the filter part itself). FRAM’s Extra Guard features an aluminum mesh which ensures greater filtration of air. All this doesn’t obstruct any air at all but makes the incoming air cool. FRAM filters range from 10 to 15 dollars but it really depends on which car you own.

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  • Very Affordable
  • Great Stability
  • Wide range of models for cars
  • Good airflow
  • 12.000-mile interval changes


  • The filter paper feels cheaper than mann.
  • Filtering could be better

4. Purolator Auto Engine Air Filters

Purolator Auto Engine Air Filters

Purolator is one of the oldest brands which has been in the market for quite some time now. Purolator is known for not just its air filters but other types of filters as well such as oil and fuel filters. They are obsessed with high quality and thrive to keep your car performing like brand new for a long time. Purolator is one of the brands you can definitely go after without a second thought with its comparative pricing and quality.

Purolator’s price tag for the air filters ranges from 10 to 25 dollars depending on the car you own. The price of the filter for the exact make and model could cost more or less. If you have a relatively newer model car, the cost will be in the higher range and vice versa for older vehicle models.

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  • Prevents load builds upon the engine due to dirty or restricted air.
  • Works up to 12,000 miles driven (can be reused after cleaning)
  • Purolator claims an 11% increase in vehicle acceleration and performance


  • Filtering could be better

5. ACDelco Car Engine Air Filter

ACDelco Car Engine Air Filter

Reaching their 100th year birthday in 2016, ACDelco has been around because of the year 1916. Just like Purolator, the name ACDelco has also lived long enough to be known by many. ACDelco is known for making lots of high-quality car parts and components and their air filters are one of their best products. These filters have a proper seal around the filter edges and ensure a boost in the performance of the engine with an increase in mileage.

We recommend that you first check the filter so that it fits properly as an improperly fitted filter will be of no good to your car.

ACDelco’s 100-year record isn’t just for say. The brand lives up to its claims of high-quality parts and delivers what it claims. That being said, ACDelco is a brand not only known in the USA but also in different parts of the world.

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  • ACDelco filter is a performance filter and bound to improve your car’s acceleration response.
  • Its filter quality is just excellent as it catches even the smallest dirt particles and prevents them from getting into the engine.
  • Makes the outside air coming in as clean as possible without any contamination.
  • Its tight seal prevents air from leaking in or out which is also a doorway to dust and dirt.


Mostly American Models

6. Airaid Car Engine Air Filters

Airaid Car Engine Air Filters

AiRaid is a brand known for its usage of the best quality material used to make the products. Airaid is one of those aftermarket air filters which isn’t just for the show. It is made from the best quality raw materials for the housing and the filter itself. The Airaid filters consist of layers of cotton gauze with a special fibre called the SynthaFlow whose purpose is to effectively catch maximum dust and tiny particles in the air. Airaid says its filters can go for as long as 50,000 miles driven before it needs to be cleaned and used again.

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  • High airflow
  • Universal Fitment
  • Good value for the price
  • Multi-Layer construction


Open air filters have worse filtering

7. Injen high-performance Engine Air Filter – Sport Filter

Injen high-performance Engine Air Filter - Sport Filter

Injen is a popular brand known and a favorite of many owners with high-performance cars. Injen’s products are widely used for domestic as well as professional use. Injen filters have multiple filtration layers ensuring the greatest blockage of dust. Injen has just the right filter size for your car and you can easily install it in your car yourself.

Injen too is made up of cotton gauze for its filter part. To say a little more about the brand, it is based in California in Panama. It was associated with the then-popular brand RD Metal Works in 1998 which used to design and manufacture air intake kits for major brands selling high-quality filters and intake systems. Injen filters are easy to clean and reusable. Injen gives a lifetime warranty on all of its filters.

Currently, in this time of high-end cars with high-performance engines, Injen stands as one of the top quality air filters

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  • Injen guarantees its filters are made of up Polyurethane
  • Great price
  • Features a multiply layered filters with the filter oiled.
  • Injen filters are re-usable and can be washed multiple times


Open air filters have worse filtering

8. aFe Engine Air Filter – Sport Filter

aFe Engine Air Filter - Sport Filter

aFe air filters are recognized by their makers. This is another filter brand that uses the cotton-cloth gauze for greatest filtration of dust particles and debris. The restricted airflow is increased and the filter allows the engine cleaner and greener air to perform at its best.

aFe filters are wet filters (oiled) and can be re-oiled and used again.

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9. AEM Dryflow Engine Air Filter

AEM Dryflow Engine Air Filter

AEM Dryflow filters omit the trouble of oiling it again and again as the filter is dry but just as efficient as wet filters. Using synthetic technology, AEM’s dry-flow filter ensures max protection against dirty air going in the car’s intake system. Most importantly, AEM’s filters work at their maximum for as long as 100,000 miles driven which is great for many owners who are lazy at performing regular maintenance of their cars. AEM also offers a lifetime warranty on its filters.

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10.  Volant Primo ProGuard 7 Engine Air Filter

Volant Primo ProGuard 7 Engine Air Filter

Using Volant’s ProGuard air filter will definitely have your car flying as the meaning of its name suggests. ProGuard filter will filter the air for your car as best as other popular brands on this list and won’t let you down in terms of quality and price. Along with that, Volant’s air filter also claims to increase your car’s gas mileage as well as overall performance. Volant’s design makes the intake of air smoother producing less heat in the process.

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Engine Air Filter FAQ & Info

Which filter is right for my car?

If you don’t know already, a car’s engine relies on a lot of things to work but out of all those things, 2 major things stand out, one of which is fuel and the other being air. The mixture of the two is what makes your engine work and as a result make the car move. Just as clean fuel is important for your engine, same goes for air which is why car makers include an air filtration system in the first place. All that being said, the answer to which filter is good for your car is simple.
The function of an air filter is rather simple although really crucial. To filter air. Normally, we don’t see the dirt in air but rather we feel it in the eyes. Air contains tiny dust particles from the atmosphere and although tiny in size, can greatly influence the mixture and car’s performance if it gets into the combustion chamber. Your car will not only face decreased performance but also engine wear which can cost you big in the long run.
That being said, the answer to which filter is best for your car is simple. The functions cannot vary but only the quality and price. The purpose for any filter is one. To clean the air for your car. The best filter for your car is the one that fits your filter box perfectly.

Do aftermarket air filters really make a difference?

Yes, aftermarket air filters really do make a difference as they are made purposely. Most of them include some kind of unique technology or filters which do the job betters than OEM filters

Does frequent air filter change improve engine life?

Yes. As outside air is never really clean, dirt can build up over time and clog the filter which can directly impact the amount of air coming in the engine. That will affect the performance and mostly the gas mileage as the air-fuel mixture wouldn’t be proportional. By frequently and timely cleaning the air filter, you can ensure top performance by your engine and the long life of your filter.

How do air filters affect emissions?

When air flow is restricted, more of gasoline will burn and the emission which contain more fuel than air which is a big pollutant of air. Modern cars are equipped with a computer which decides how much fuel to add according to air. If air is restricted, fuel will be restricted and so will performance.

What are the signs which tell that my air filter needs replacing?

Normally, vehicle manufacturers suggest to change the air filters after every year or 12,000 miles but that is subject to car usage and area where the car is driven. If driven in sandy areas, the filter might clog up quickly and need to be cleaned or replace quicker. Different filter brands also vary in the amount of time before the filter needs to be changed. Here are a few signs you can look for to know if it’s time to change the filter or not:

The appearance of the filter

The first and most obvious sign is a dirty or blackened air filter. If upon inspection, you find that your filter is simply dirty, it is time to clean it. If your air filter is very old, it may be time to change it altogether and replace it with a new one.

Reduced Fuel Economy

Another sign is a decrease in mileage. If you realize that your car is using more gasoline than it used to, it may be due to a bad air filter. In that case, inspect your air filter to see if it’s dirty. It may also be torn.

Exhaust Producing Black Smoke

You start your engine and find out that black smoke is coming out of the tail pipe. Although this could be due to many different reasons, one of the reason is a bad air filter. That happens if your car isn’t getting enough air to burn with fuel.

Rough Noise with the aid of the Engine

If you air that your car makes a ‘whiff’ sound as you step on the gas, that’s a sign that your engine is having a hard time getting air. That’s a sure sign that your air filter is blocked and restricting air flow.

How can I change/clean the air filter on my car myself?

Changing the air filter is as easy as cleaning your vacuum cleaner at home. Here’s a step by step guide to clean your car’s air filter:

Open Hood and Find the Filter Box

The air filter box is easy to find in almost every vehicle. It is usually right above the spark plugs or on the right in the engine bay. The filter is fitted inside a box which is either clipped or tightened with screws. Unclip the top part of the box and take the filter out. Check for any damage. If it’s good, you can just clean and it put it back in.

Cleaning the filter

Some filters can be cleaned simply by tapping them to remove the dust over the filter. To thoroughly clean the filter, you will need to wash it with a soap or detergent. Although you should refer to the owner’s manual if you are cleaning your OEM filter. If you are cleaning aftermarket filter, refer to the instructions given by the manufacturer of the aftermarket filter to not damage the filter.

Install New Air Filter

If you suspect any damage whatsoever, it’s time to change the filter. The new filter will be of the same size and dimensions as the original one and all you need to do is take the old one out and replace it with the new one whether its OEM filter or an aftermarket one

Buying the Correct Air Filter

Buying the correct air filter means buying the right size for your filter box. If your new filter isn’t fitting your filter box, it’s wise to not forcefully install it as it will be useless to do so. A filter box is tightly sealed which serves the actual purpose of filtration. Air is gathered in bulk amount and accumulated in the box. The outside force pulls the air in the engine but as the air is being pulled, the air needs to pass through the filter itself which decontaminates air before it can get to the combustion chamber. There is no space inside the filter box from where the air can leak out or can be let in. If that were so, dirty air could get inside your engine and render your filter useless.


The deal with air filters is actually very straightforward. Air filters are one of the important components in your car whose function may be simple but is very important in the efficient working of the engine. Air filters are inexpensive so you don’t need to worry too much about replacing them frequently. But because of technology, even that has added benefits. Air filters, especially aftermarket ones, are now more rigid and long lasting. Some work for as long as 100,000 miles. Besides that, modern filters can be reused and cleaned multiple times to take away the hassle of replacing them frequently.

With all that in mind, maintenance of air filters should not be overlooked as, saving a few bucks on filters could lead to having you spend a big amount on engine repairs due to failure of parts and air sensors. Not only that but you will face low performance by your car.

Written by:

Magnus is the owner and main author of MechanicBase. He has been working as a mechanic for over 10 years, and the majority of them specialized in advanced diagnostics and troubleshooting. He has also been a motorsport (drifting) driver for over 5 years.