What does an air filter do for my vehicle?
Every day you rely upon your vehicle’s engine to start each time you turn the key. No matter where you drive, dirt and debris can get in your engine significantly hampering the performance of your car. The job of keeping dirt and other unwanted material out of the engine falls to the humble engine air filter.
A key component of the air intake system, the air filter is typically made of pleated paper. The air filter traps dirt that enters the air intake system and filters it out before it can get into the engine.
Premium quality air filter = premium performance
Purchasing a premium air filter for your car will provide optimal air flow, maximum engine performance and the best fuel efficiency. The ability of your air filter to remove harmful dirt, debris and foreign matter from your engine’s air intake is directly attributed to the long life of your engine.
The more dirt, dust and abrasive debris that is removed from the air entering your engine, the more efficiently your engine will perform and the longer your engine will last. So it makes sense that purchasing a higher quality air filter is a major contributor to higher engine efficiency and longer engine life.
Purchasing a premium air filter for your car will provide optimal air flow, maximum engine performance and the best fuel efficiency.
What makes a good air filter?
Air filters are evaluated and approved by a series of tests performed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) to ensure they meet the engine manufacturer's requirements. The testing determines how much dirt, debris and abrasives are trapped by a filter and how long the air filter can last before clogging. The air filters are then rated based on their efficiency during those tests.
As your engine takes in air, it passes through an air intake tube which directs the air through the air filter’s multiple pleats. The pores of the air filter have microscopically larger and smaller holes, so small they are referred to in micron sizes. The thickness, density and micron size of the material that makes up the pleated filter determine the quality of the filter. A micron is a unit of measure in the metric system equal to 1 millionth of a meter in length (about 39 millionths of an inch). The average cross-section of a human hair is 50 microns. The lower the micron rating, the better the filter capability.
Unfortunately, when looking at air filters they seem too often to all look the same. Low quality, discount filters contain very thin filter material with fewer pleats, less dense paper and a higher micron rating, thereby filtering and trapping fewer debris and abrasives.
A high quality, premium filter will be packed with high density, low micron filter material and extensive pleating that enables it to trap large volumes of debris and abrasives, which allow for higher engine efficiency and better engine protection.
The thickness, density and micron size of the material that makes up the pleated filter determine the quality of the filter.
What should I consider when buying a filter?
Your air filter is the main defense against dirt, dust and abrasives that rob your engine of efficiency and a long life. Considering the cost of an engine, a little extra money spent now could save thousands of dollars in the future. When selecting an air filter, consider the following:
- SAE tested and approved
- High contaminant removal rating of 98% or higher
- Low micron rating
- High mileage rating
- Meet or exceed original equipment specifications
- Superior protection against dirt and dust penetration
Other factors to consider
The environment where you live and drive can have an impact on your air filter. If you frequently drive in an unusually dusty and dirty environment like gravel or dirt roads or live near the beach where there is sand in the air, you should always install the highest quality air filter available and increase the interval between replacements.
Whether you drive in the country or the city, always do your homework and make sure you are purchasing a high quality engine air filter.
The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be used in lieu of seeking professional advice from a certified technician or mechanic. We encourage you to consult with a certified technician or mechanic if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered herein.