The 15 Best Engine Air Filters For Cars – 2021 (Review & Guide)


Looking to change your engine air filter?

Is your car feeling and sounding a bit tired? Like it forgot to have it’s morning cup of java?

Then you might need to change the engine air filter.

But, the question is, which engine air filter is best for your vehicle?

Changing the engine air filter in your car is one of the easiest maintenance jobs that you can do yourself which means you can save anywhere from $60 – $135 in mechanic labor costs.

This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, I may receive a small commission (at zero cost to you).



At A Glance: Top 5 Best Engine Air Filters

TOP OVERALL PICKSpearhead Max Thrust Performance Engine Air Filter – Traps 2 times more dirt vs other filters
– Up to 15 miles
– Faster acceleration
Runner Up – Overall Pick EPAuto GP075 (CA10755) Replacement – Up to 12,000 miles
Compatible with many vehicles
Best Budget Engine Air FilterFRAM Extra Guard Air Filter CA4309– Provides 2 times the engine protection
– Change every 12,000 miles
Runner Up – Best Budget Engine Air FilterEPAuto GP 360 (9360)– Replacement for Toyota, and Lexus vehicles
Best Reusable Engine Air FilterK&N Filters 33-2443 High-Performance Replacement Engine Air Filter– Replacement for: 2010-2019 Toyota/Lexus/Mitsubishi (Highlander, RAV4, Sienna, Avalon, Camry, ES 350, NX300, Rx350, L200, Triton), 33-2443
– 10-Year/Million Mile Limited Warranty
– 50% more airflow than disposable air filters
– Pre-oiled

Top Overall Pick – Engine Air Filter

Spearhead Max Thrust Performance Engine Air Filter Replacement

What We Like

  • Easy to install
  • Increased engine power
  • Promotes better mileage
  • Better acceleration
  • Allows airflow even when the filter is dirty

What We Don’t Like

  • Tough to fit in some vehicles

Summary: The Max Thrust engine air filters provide a clear and affordable upgrade for your damaged or clogged air filter.

It comes with a unique Hex-D pleat design that creates a maximum holding capacity to trap dust and dirt twice compared to other standard air filters.

Deficient airflow can lead to engine problems by forcing it to work twice hard to suck in the minimum amount of air needed to perform regularly. This results in low power and poor engine efficiency.

What’s more interesting about this air filter is that it’s very easy to install. You can make it a DIY project since it comes with the instructions and directions needed to assemble.

The easy replacement will save you the money and time you would spend at the auto repair shop.

Runner Up – Overall Pick – Engine Air Filter

EPAuto GP075 (CA10755) Replacement Panel Engine Air Filter

What We Like

  • Deep pleating
  • Wide range of applications
  • Relatively affordable
  • Well-built auto filter
  • Easy to install

What We Don’t Like

  • Some users find the design to be a bit restrictive.

Summary: The EPAuto GP075 (CA10755) is a high-quality air filter from EPAUTO. It comes with various exciting features that make it more reliable.

This carefully designed air filter can be used in a wide range of vehicles, including some Jeep, Dodge, Toyota, and Lexus.

The most fascinating thing about this product is its unique deep pleats, which provides lots of surface area to trap contaminants.

Deep pleats also boost the air filter performance by providing a top-level of filter to the air passing into the engine. This will, in turn, improve the engine performance.

The EPAuto GP075 (CA10755) comes at an affordable price and is well built to serve your vehicle for a longer time.

Best Budget Engine Air Filter

FRAM Extra Guard Air Filter CA4309

What We Like

  • Mesh design for better performance
  • Inexpensive
  • Excellent quality

What We Don’t Like

  • Doesn’t fit in some vehicle models

Summary: If you are looking for a more affordable and convenient air filter, you can’t go wrong with the FRAM Extra Guard CA4309.

The FRAM Extra Guard CA4309 is an inexpensive air filter that boasts double protection, similar to engine air filters from auto manufacturers.

It makes a great replacement of damaged OEM air filters as it’s well-designed to enhance airflow and prevent dirt and dust from flying into the engine.

The package comes with all the directions and instructions you need to make the installation process straightforward.

A steel mesh encloses the paper media to provide top-notch protection by trapping all the dirt particles.

This mesh design also increases the surface area to collect all the particles that could otherwise harm the engine.

The low price makes the FRAM Extra Guard CA4309 be an excellent choice for most drivers who want a reusable filter.

However, the filters can be a bit difficult to install in some vehicle models. But it does fit in more vehicles and delivers great performance.

FRAM recommends changing the air filter after every 12,000 miles to ensure optimal performance.

Runner UpBest Budget Engine Air Filter

EPAuto GP 360 (9360)

What We Like

  • Sturdy frame construction
  • More filtration pleats
  • Compatible with most modern vehicles
  • Easy installation

What We Don’t Like

  • Cheap filter material

Summary: Prolong the performance of your vehicle’s engine by replacing the dirty air filters with an EPAuto GP 360 Engine Air Filter.

This air filter is designed to fit most Toyota vehicles, Lexus, Jeep, Dodge, and other vehicles.

The EPAuto GP 360 Engine Air Filter features a synthetic filtration material formed into several long pleats that filters the particles from entering your engine.

It also offers adequate airflow to keep the vehicle’s power and MPGs at optimal performance.

The installation process of this air filter is a breeze, and there are many tutorials and videos online to help you install the filter by yourself.

This quality air filter offers a suitable fit and finish that is similar to your original equipment manufacturer air filter. Sometimes it can even be better than the OEM filters.

Best Reusable Engine Air Filter

K&N Filters 33-2443 High-Performance Replacement Engine Air Filter

What We Like

  • Offers top-notch protection to the engine
  • Low maintenance design
  • Easy installation
  • Eco-friendly

What We Don’t Like

  • Quite pricey

The K&N Filters 33-2443 is a high-performance replacement air filter that offers the ultimate longevity to your vehicle’s engine.

It features a state-of-the-art filtration media that provides up to 50% more airflow than the standard disposable air filters. This increases the engine’s power and acceleration.

K&N Filters 33-2443 can serve you for more extended periods, saving you the money you would have to spend in disposable filters.

The air filter is eco-friendly as it helps reduce replacement waste. It can last longer than ten disposable air filters.

Another interesting thing about this air filter is that it features a low maintenance design, and it can go up to 50, 000 miles with no cleaning, under normal road driving conditions.

Best Reusable High-Performance Cabin Air Filter

K&N Premium Cabin Air Filter: Reusable High Performance

What We Like

  • Easy to Install
  • Built for long-lasting performance
  • Washable and reusable
  • Increased airflow
  • Helps prevent odors

What We Don’t Like

  • Inadequate installation instructions

If you are looking for a reliable way to keep your interior clean all the time, the K&N Premium Cabin Air Filter is for you.

This air filter is eco-friendly since it’s a reusable product. It can serve you longer than over ten disposable filters since it’s built to last for the life of your vehicle.

Unlike disposable air filters that need a replacement after every 12,000 miles, the K&N Premium Cabin Air Filter can go up to 50,000 without having to be cleaned.

The air filter promotes increased airflow that improves heating or cooling efficiency. It’s also very easy to install as you can assemble it in less than five minutes.

EPAuto GP013 (CA10013) Extra Guard Rigid Panel Engine Air Filter

What We Like

  • Super easy to install
  • Low price
  • Great value for the money
  • Protects the engine against harmful particles

What We Don’t Like

  • The Filter frame is cheaply made

Summary: This is yet another high-quality air filter from EPAUTO that has relatively wide vehicle compatibility.

The EPAuto GP013 (CA10013) boasts the great construction quality you would expect from most EPAuto products.

It comes with a good set of pleated material for a reliable filtering power to keep your engine safe from harmful particles that could cause damage.

This air filter is incredibly cheap and is compatible with Select Models like Honda, MDX, Odyssey, and Pilot.

It can help improve your vehicle’s mileage, mainly by keeping your engine clean.

EPAUTO recommends the air filter replacement every 12,000 miles to steer clear of clogged and dirty filters.

Mann Filter C 3698/3-2 Air Filter Element

What We Like

  • Ensures that the engine gives its peak performance
  • Easy to install
  • Filters all kinds of particles
  • Comes at an affordable price

What We Don’t Like

  • Not compatible with most vehicle models

Summary: The Mann Filter C 3698/3-2 Air Filter Element works by ensuring the air that enters the engine is completely free of dirt particles.

It’s a reliable and efficient product that allows maximum air to fuel ratio for optimal engine performance.

Along with being an efficient air filter, Mann Filter C 3698/3-2 also reduces the intake noise, seals off the adjacent components, and regulates the temperature.

It can filter many kinds of damaging particles such as water droplets, soot, and even dust to help keep the engine clean all the time.

This air filter is also well-known for protecting the engine from various components like sand and pollen. It’s made with the specially embossed paper with good pleat stability.

Ecogard XA10486 Engine Air Filter

What We Like

  • Delivers efficient air airflow needed for peak performance
  • Quite similar to the original air filters in Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Help save time and money spent on a trip to the dealer
  • Provides outstanding engine protection

What We Don’t Like

It takes more than ten minutes to install

Summary: The Ecogard XA10486 air filter is a high-performance product designed to meet the requirements needed to maintain the warranties on new vehicles.

This air filter helps you enjoy the maximum engine efficiency and clean air entering the engine.

It reduces the maintenance cost, maximizes fuel efficiency while still maintaining high quality.

There are many benefits you will obtain from using the Ecogard XA10486, including improved vehicle performance and better acceleration.

By providing clean and constant airflow, the Ecogard XA10486 air filter enables the engine to give more power.

The filter also lowers the engine wear by filtering out all the dirt particles that can severely damage and reduce engine performance.

It has been specifically engineered and tested for Jeep OEM air filter’s function and fit.

ECOGARD XA4878 Premium Engine Air Filter

What We Like

  • Excellent Quality
  • Improves the engine’s performance
  • Factory finish
  • Built by experienced manufacturers

What We Don’t Like

  • Doesn’t fit most vehicles

Summary: ECOGARD has pioneered aftermarket engine air filter technology for more than 25 years, and this means that they have enough experience to make quality products.

If you are looking for a high-quality OEM modeled air filter for replacement, then the ECOGARD XA4878 Premium Air Filter is for you.

This is a factory fit OEM’s specifications and is well-designed with a rubber gasket for a complete seal.

It fits a variety of vehicles, including some models of Honda and Acura vehicles. Also, being an identical OEM replacement means that the ECOGARD XA4878 will fit right in your vehicle.

ECOGARD recommends changing these air filters after 12,000 miles to ensure that the engine is clean enough for efficient performance.

Motorcraft FA1883 Air Filter

What We Like

  • Easy to install
  • Withstands damage from moisture and oil
  • Efficient in filtering the air entering the engine
  • Leakproof
  • Sturdy construction

What We Don’t Like

  • Limited application range

Summary: Changing the air filter in your vehicle is a small task, but it does have a significant impact on the engine’s performance and longevity.

Keep your engine clean with the Motorcraft FA1883 Air Filter, which is a premium air built to do a great job to your engine.

It features a high-quality filtration capability to ensure that filters out all dirt and dust particles in the air entering your engine.

The air filter is a very well-designed product and is compatible with various Ford models. It comes with a large media area that offers optimal capacity and fuel efficiency.

Its pressure-relief valves also help maintain the supply of oil to the engine when driving under extreme cold conditions or when the filter is clogged.

The perforated steel centre tube prevents breakdown when the filter is under pressure.

EPAuto GP997 (CA9997)

What We Like

  • Delivers outstanding engine protection
  • Helps extend performance
  • Easy installation
  • Compatible with most Subaru models

What We Don’t Like

  • Made cheaply than the OEM filters
  • Doesn’t protect your vehicle against odors

Summary: The EPAuto GP997 is a high-quality filter that is specifically designed for high performance. It helps protect the engine against dirt particles.

This air filter can improve fuel mileage in various Subaru models such as Forester, Impreza, Crosstrek Gas, Legacy, Outback, and many more.

With the EPAuto GP997, your car seems to breath better as it doesn’t feel restricted by dust or dirt particles.

The EPAuto GP997 is relatively cheaper yet of good quality. You don’t have to spend lots of money to get a reliable engine air filter.

For optimal performance, EPAUTO recommends that you change the air filter after every 12,000 miles.

Fram CA10190 Cabin Air Filter

What We Like

  • Extremely easy to install
  • Usable for up to 12, 000 miles
  • The package includes illustrations and directions
  • Offer double engine protection

What We Don’t Like

  • Difficult to fit in some vehicles

Summary: The Fram CA10190 Extra Guard comes with advanced features that enable it to capture more dirt and gunk.

This filter is engineered with quality filter material that has been thoroughly tested and proved to deliver double the protection than most average air filters.

What makes the filter to be very efficient is its coated filter material that can trap and hold a significant amount of dirt.

Fram CA10190 Extra Guard features sturdy construction to ensure that it can offer extended durability even when driving in the most challenging conditions.

The air filter can be used for up to 12,000 miles before it needs a replacement. It’s also efficient in preventing a decrease in horsepower and acceleration.

When it comes to installation, all the things you need are provided on the package, including the directions and illustrations to help you understand easily.

EPAuto GP997 (CA9997) Replacement – Subaru Engine Air Filter

What We Like

  • Helps extend engine performance
  • Easy installation
  • Offers great protection against dirt
  • Improves fuel mileage
  • Relatively affordable

What We Don’t Like

  • Appears to be flimsier than OEM air filters

Summary: If you are looking for a cheap and economical air filter that has an excellent quality like the OEM products, you can’t go wrong with the EPAUTO air filters.

There are no doubts that EPAUTO is a top-tier aftermarket engine air filter, and the EPAuto GP997 (CA9997) is a quality alternative from this brand.

This air filter is an inexpensive product that is very easy to install. Instead of paying $100 to your local car dealer, you can buy the EPAuto GP997 to save money and time.

It’s designed to make an excellent replacement for air filters in various Subaru vehicles, including Legacy, Tribeca, WRX, and more.

The manufacturers recommend changing the air filter after 12,000 miles to keep the engine clean all the time. 

5 Benefits of Changing Your Engine Air Filter

#1 – Improved Fuel Efficiency

Changing your clogged air filter will improve your fuel efficiency and enhance acceleration, depending on your car and model.

A clogged and damaged filter restricts the amount of air that flows into the car’s engine, making it harder. This means that it will consume more fuel.

It’s essential to replace the dirty air filter to promote the needed airflow.

#2 – Reduced Emissions

Damaged air filters reduce the airflow to the engine, altering the car’s air-fuel balance.

The air-fuel imbalance can pollute the spark plugs, making the engine rough idle or increase the engine depositions.

Moreover, the imbalance has a direct impact on the exhaust emissions, contributing to the pollution on the environment.

#3 – Extends Engine Life

Small particles that get into the engine through a damaged air filter can do massive damage to the internal engine parts, including cylinders and piston.

Such engine parts can be costly to repair or replace. This is why it’s very crucial to change your air filters regularly.

#4 – Cost-Effective

Unlike most of the other parts required to run your engine effectively, air filters are cheap to buy and effortless to install.

You can purchase a high-quality and reliable air filter at a relatively lower price and install it in your vehicle.

This will be much cheaper compared to going to your local auto dealer where you might spend more money. 

When do I change my engine air filter?

You can change your engine air filter according to the manufacturer’s recommendation, usually somewhere around 10,000 – 15,000 miles. However, that’s not necessarily the case for every car or truck.

As an example, if you drive your vehicle where there’s a lot of pollen in the air or a lot of pollution, then you might want to change your filter more often than what’s recommended on the filter packaging.

However, there are some good indicators that can suggest it’s time to change your engine air filter, and here are 6 indicators to keep an eye on:

  1. Less engine power, slow acceleration – If you notice that your vehicle is feeling tired and slow on acceleration, a dirty engine filter could be the cause
  2. Difficulty starting your engine – Does your car seem to have difficulty starting? A clogged engine air filter could be causing your car to not want to start
  3. Less gas mileage – Paying more at the gas station? Maybe it’s because the price has gone up but maybe it’s because it’s been too long since you’ve replaced the engine air filter.
  4. Unusual engine sounds – Something not quite right with the sound of your engine? Is there a rodent under the hood somewhere? Not likely. In fact, it’s more likely that you need to swap out your engine air filter or if you have a reusable, pull it out and give it a good cleaning. Keep in mind that there are other reasons your engine may not sound quite right so if you aren’t sure, get a mechanic to check it out.
  5. Service engine light turns on – Ya, not a good sign. There are dozens of reasons why your service engine light might be lit and a clogged engine air filter is one of them.
  6. Black smoke from the exhaust – Yikes, ya, another good indicator that your engine air filter might need cleaning up or replaced but don’t let this one go too long. If you still see black smoke after replacing the filter, be sure to get the opinion of a certified mechanic.

Types of Engine Air Filters For Cars

There are 3 main types of engine air filters: 1. Paper engine air filters 2. Non-oiled performance air filters and 3. Oiled performance engine air filters.

  1. The paper engine air filter is the most common. They’re one-time use and you’ll likely get 15,000 – 25,000 miles from one filter which is a decent amount of driving. They’re reasonably priced so if you learn how to replace the filter yourself, this is one thing you can do to keep your car running smoothly and not have to take it to a mechanic and pay labor costs.
  2. A non-oiled performance filter will cost more than the average paper engine air filter but it will last longer. In fact, most of the time, you can clean a performance engine air filter instead of replacing it. What makes this type of filter better than a paper filter is that they are designed to fit a specific car which means that you should end up getting better performance.
  3. An oiled performance engine air filter has a coating of oil through it to catch dirt and debris which means that it does a better job than a paper or non-oiled filter, of keeping your engine clean. And like a non-oiled performance air filter, it should last the lifetime (or close to it) of the vehicle.

FAQs For Engine Air Filters

How often should you change the engine air filter?

How often you change the engine air filter will depend on the filter, your car, and the driving conditions.

Some manufacturers of filters will also provide recommendations on how often the filter should be replaced but it’s also suggested that you check the filter to see how much dirt has been collected by the filter.

If there’s a decent amount of dirt and debris on the filter, then changing the filter or cleaning it is a good idea, regardless of how much mileage you’ve put on. And remember, a clean filter will help ensure your vehicle run’s smooth.

How do I know when my engine air filter needs to be changed?

Here are 6 indicators that your engine air filter might need to be changed:

1. Less engine power
2. Slow acceleration
3. Difficulty starting your engine or sluggishness
4. Less gas mileage
5. Unusual engine sounds
6. Service engine light turns on
7. Black smoke from the exhaust

Does a dirty engine air filter impact vehicle performance?

Yes, a dirty engine air filter impacts vehicle performance. It can cause sluggishness, slow acceleration and at some point, if the filter gets very dirty, you’ll get less gas mileage.

Is a reusable engine air filter better than a disposable paper engine air filter?

Whether a reusable or disposable engine air filter is better is a matter of opinion.

Some people believe that a performance engine air filter that is re-usable, provides superior performance, and only needs to be cleaned on occasion. But others believe that you’ll see better performance if you use a paper filter and replace it when it needs to be replaced.

Why should I change my engine air filter?

4 Reasons why you should change your engine air filter:

1. Less engine power
2. Slow acceleration
3. Difficulty starting your engine or sluggishness
4. Less gas mileage
5. Unusual engine sounds
6. Service engine light turns on
7. Black smoke from the exhaust

Can I reuse my engine air filter?

If you have a high-performance engine air filter, you can reuse it. These filters are designed to be re-used. You just need to remove and clean it, and then put back in.

If you have a paper engine air filter, they are not designed to be re-used. Instead, they need to be replaced once the dirt and debris has accumulated and degraded their performance.

Is it easy to change my engine air filter?

Yes, it’s easy to change your engine air filter. In fact, it’s one of the easier vehicle maintenance tasks that you can do yourself and save some money.

After you bought a new engine air filter, you can follow these steps and change the engine filter yourself.

5 Easy Steps To Change Your Engine Air Filter

  1. Remove the old filter

    Open the hood and locate the filter box. The oil filter box is either rectangular or square and is typically located between the engine and the front grill.

  2. Remove the engine air filter cover

  3. Remove the engine air filter

  4. Clean the filter housing

    Use a vacuum or compressor to blow the dirt and debris from the filter housing.

  5. Insert the new filter

  6. Put the housing cover back on and screw it back together

Articles Related to Best Engine Air Filters