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Air filters - why no brand war about them?

wainwain Posts: 479
edited March 2014 in Toyota
1. maybe since you only change them so infrequently people don't think about it

2. they all look the same and they are simpler, like no confusing array of drain back valves and springs and metal on metal vs metal on rubber?

3. might be intereting to compare them tho, since its pobably all media size based????


  • wainwain Posts: 479
    does K and N post any tests done by an independant 3rd party (someone other than their own marketing department??)
  • armtdmarmtdm Posts: 2,057
    The OEM filters really seem better built then the aftermarket which is the opposite of oil filters. My oil analysis indicates to me that the OEM air filters are better in filtering out silicon (dirt) then the Purolators, Frams etc. and better then the Foam as well. For oil fitlers, there I use Pure One, Mobil 1 or Amsoil
  • I'm not an expert, but I am sure there are some knowable differences of some importance. Because of my own bias favoring Wix products, such as those sold as NAPA Gold and Silver, I always feel very secure in using WIX AIR FILTERS under various trade names. I have always felt that FRAM makes excellent air filters. PUROLATOR rounds that out for me, with top quality air filters as well. Perhaps we can lure in a "paper" expert on air filtration to help us gather some momentum in this topic. (:oÞ
  • because air filters are a fully exposed part, any dummy can look at it any time they choose or as often as they choose and determine if it needs to be changed. An oil filter on the other hand is a sealed unit that can not be inspected as to wheather it is dirty or not.
  • armtdmarmtdm Posts: 2,057
    Many aftermarked filters are now using more frame material, by that I mean more solid not filtering parper around the edges, which creats less filter paper area, perhaps to save cost???

    Again, if you compare the OEM side by side you will see a construction difference. Now, for the most part this has primarily made a difference on my toyota, others not so much.

    As to changing, I change once a year and the filter are not very dirty by that time. However, new Buick I just changed at one year, 19,000 miles and it was filthy. The passenger air filters are always filthy at one year as well.

    At $6-$20 each air filters, if accessible can easily be changed every year
  • wainwain Posts: 479
    when I cut up the Castrol (wix) oil filter for the Camry, see the oil filter topic, they (WIX) were seriously lacking in media area amount. You might want to rethink the WIX preference as they might be "shorting" you too on the amount of AIR filter media like on the oil filter.
    the oil filter areas were
    Purolater 94 in2
    Supertech 71
    Castrol wix 64
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,302

    If you pick up a Honda air filter and compare it to a couple of the brands mentioned, you will never buy anything but the Honda filter.

    Big difference!
  • bluedevilsbluedevils Posts: 2,554
    isellhondas, long time no see. I haven't visited the Inconsiderate Buyers forum in many months. I presume you're still over there.

    I'm not questioning your claim; just curious if you know who makes the Honda brand air filters. I'm presuming that none of the automobile manufacturers actually makes their own filters.
  • Open a NAPA GOLD box sometime, and check over the enclosed air filter. They really LOOK top notch. Some brands display sloppy "rubber work" and some speckles on outer row media pleats. I doubt that any of that makes a big difference, but beholding quality workmanship is a pleasure.
  • an old off road race trick from many years back was to take a small amount of grease and using your finger spread a thin layer on both sides of the rubber seal. If there was a small leak between the filter and the canister the grease would seal it or at least catch the dirt.
  • brorjacebrorjace Posts: 588
    I've looked for aftermarket air filters for my Honda ('95 Civic Coupe) and checked a number of different brands ... but they all look identical to the OEM piece. Honda uses a rigid plastic frame and a more sophisticated gasket than the typical rubber mold around a chunk of pleated filter media which comprises most air filters I've seen. The second-rate filters (Fram, etc ...) have excessive amounts of rubber flashing which clog the edges of the filter pleats and cut down on the CFM potential.

    I'm guessing there are only a couple producers of my particular Honda part number and most brands cross-source (buy from the same manufacturer). Some might even be OEM. >;^)

    Since there are many more part numbers in air filters as compared to oil filters, I would suspect a great amount of cross-sourcing.

    Anyway, I only use the stock airbox and filter 4 out of 12 months each year. When the weather is nice, I use a K&N cone filter. >;^)

    As for the WIX OIL filter in K-mart labeled as Castrol (or Penske), I think that is Wix's second grade line. Their Wix branded filters along with the NAPA Gold are a little bigger in most numbers.

    --- Bror Jace
  • I can't agree with you, if you mean you consider Fram air filters as second rate. You would have to "show us the evidence" to make such a case. Now, as I have already said, I enjoy looking at high craftsmanship, but being pragmatic and cheap to the core (:oÞ I can stand a little flash around the edges. I can't imagine that such features would actually change the CFM of a filter installed on a "regular" consumer vehicle. I assume that the filtering media can change the CFM. The K&N company makes a living on that idea!
  • wainwain Posts: 479
    the whole NAPA thing is confusing to me
    the minimopar oil filter study said the two NAPA filters were the same and NAPA would not tell him the difference (is there a napa website?? )
    the minimopar filter in the ford size has the napa s at 337 in2 (59 pleats and the wix at 349 61 pleats - about the same.)
    what scares me about NAPA and any company that does not build their own filters is that they can switch off to an unknown vendor if they get under cost pressure or say the owners just want more profit.A filter maker (who are those? - Purolater, wix, ??????) may be a little less likely to cheapen the product.
  • brucer2brucer2 Posts: 157
    The few times I've used Fram panel style air filters I've observed that after only a few thousand miles of use the pleats are all wavy. This means that they aren't rigid enough and under use they are folding over blocking air flow.
  • We need an outfit with a flow bench to test out air filters for CFM. I suspect much such data has been gathered, but may not be generally available.
    brucer2: I have never had a discernible problem with a FRAM air filter, myself.
    I just bought a couple NAPA air filters today. NAPA signifies the filters with a NAPA company designater located in Gastonia, North Carolina. That is the location of WIX.
  • brorjacebrorjace Posts: 588
    Well, I stick by my assessment of the Fram air filters being 2nd rate. If you look at a rectangular air filter that is 6" x 8" and it has 1/4" of flashing all the way around it (and one Fram I have looks much worse than this in spots), that reduces it's filter surface area by about 7" square ... which is about 15%. If that doesn't matter to you, that's one thing, but I think it's worth noting in this discussion. CFM can be adversely affected by simple things. I know from my stint in the fire service that screens in windows can cut down on CFM by as much as 50%. I found that figure hard to believe but that's we were taught in class while discussing the topic "ventilation".

    I have a Penske air filter purchased at K-mart for a Ford V8 and it has the same problem but was manufactured on a different assembly line because the molding marks are a little different. I'm trying to remember if I've seen one of these rubber-gasket-surrounding-media filters that had a neat, trim edge. My Honda's filter is encased in plastic and does not have this problem.

    As for NAPA vs. Castrol, the following is true for the Honda part number (#1334). The NAPA Gold is the better filter and their Silver line is a step down. The external casing for the Honda filters are different from each other. Now, both Castrol filters (white & black) are using the Silver line casing (smaller) and I'd guess that the only difference between them is the filter media. But, that is just a guess.

    --- Bror Jace
  • I maintain my cars pretty well and they all go over 200K. Oil changes 3-5 times a year. Unfortunantly, I must confess that I ignore air filters like the average driver. I just changed the air filter on the little woman's Jeep yesterday and it had a date code of '95. Hmmmmmmm, thats when we bought the car used. Out of sight, out of mind
  • brucer2brucer2 Posts: 157
    James, why didn't you just run the old one through the dishwasher?
  • I find rubber flashing around the edges of NAPA Gold & Silver air filters, and PENSKE, as well as FRAM. I have a PUROLATOR on the shelf that has no flashing.
  • It sounds crazy but it just might work. Several pleats tore when I touched them. I used to clean air filters with shop air. By taking apart old oil filters, I found another cost savings. The filter elements of old WIX oil filters make excellent air cleaners for my Gravely tractor.
  • Using compressed air to "backflush" air filters is not advisable. The air pressure damages the filter paper at a level somewhat below human vision. That is, you don't see it, but the new clean airways you have created no longer are tight enough to catch the little stuff. It goes right on in to your engine.
  • wainwain Posts: 479
    it might work as a coffee filter
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    Nope, won't work. The coffee maker's in the dishwasher. LOL
  • Probably works just as good and you can take them out and wash them. Martha Stewart had a segment where she decorated Halloween costumes with pleated coffee filters and hot melt glue. Couldn't you just cut out the dirty pleats and hot melt in new coffee filters. I can tell you guys have never been poor.
  • It's time to get a new air filter when the one you keep recleaning won't stop the passage of road grade gravel... (:oÞ
  • gaylecvgaylecv Posts: 4
    I am considering an Amsoil air filter for my Avalon.Has anyone used these air filters? Does anyone have any suggestions or comments?
  • armtdmarmtdm Posts: 2,057
    Yes, I used the Amsoil on a few cars. I am a loyal Amsoil user but also look at the best product. For oil I think it is Amsoil, filters also but not their air filters or gear oil Their filters ( one was used on my Camry) eventually fell apart after about 2-3 years from washing and reoiling. The cleaning and reoiling is a pain. However, the most damaging part was that my oil analysis results were better with OEM paper filters. Not true with OEM oil fitlers but the OEM air filter elements are all I use now. Filter better and so much easier to change.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    You might want to look into K&N oiled gauze filters. In motorcycles they have a top notch reputation. I suspect they may be mighty good in cars, as well.
  • armtdmarmtdm Posts: 2,057
    May be a good filter but no one has been able to show on any of the Edmunds boards that it filters as well as the OEM filters. Sure, K&N says it is great, so what else is new! You may get a few HP, perception probably, but without other major mods like exhaust you are wasting your money with other them OEM.
  • I get 50K or more out of mine. You must all live on dirt roads. If you are looking for a little more performance, I can see using oiled foam. Unless the car is carberated or the control system is primarily driven by a MAP sensor instead of a MAF, it doesn't change daily driving performance with age. If you wanted to do something better for oil contamination, I would put a large capacity inline gas filter in series with the crankcase air inlet. Maybe oil that.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    You might want to reconsider that one... (:oÞ
    I change mine just under 10K, to insure free breathing and clean air. Filters just don't cost so much that I would be willing to take the risk. I am convinced that clean air and oil is the combo that helps assure a long lasting engine.
  • frulefrule Posts: 82
    It would seem to me that air flow is the more important issue,until an air filter gets REALLY gunky.As has been discussed on the oil forum,the new medium will filter to a certain micron level with a certain efficiency.As the filter collects dirt,it should actually filter particles better,though air-flow will decrease.That is unless as the filter loads up,dirt somehow more easily gets through(which I doubt).

    So a new filter would actually be the best for flow and worst for particulates.This is why many condemn the K&N style,which seems to gain efficiency as it loads.

  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    The attraction to the K&N filter for motorcyclists is that once installed, they may be left for very extended periods. Many modern motorcycles have the air filters located in places that are very time consuming (expensive shop procedures) to get at for the exchange. Plus, it is said that the K&N filters breathe much better, this boosting power a bit.
  • brorjacebrorjace Posts: 588
    I have a K&N cone shaped filter on my Civic. No cold-air induction plumbing or anything exotic or impractical, just a better filter under the hood.

    I leave this on 8 months out of the year but put the factory air box and paper element back in during the winter months. This keeps the K&N free from too much salt, etc ...

    Anyway, I notice a slight difference in power when the K&N is in place at wide-open-throttle, 3,000 RPMs and above (I also have an aftermarket exhaust on the car). So, the K&N probably does flow better and give me a modest (single digit) horsepower increase.

    Also, lab testing of my engine oil shows that its filtration ability is at least competent if not very good.

    Gonna probably switch it back this weekend. >;^D

    --- Bror Jace
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    From what I read, K&N does a great job at letting more air through which is why it increases the horsepower in your car. But it also lets more particles through which can damage the vehicle. My take is if this truly added more HP and improved gas mileage, car manufacturers would jump all over this for trucks and SUVs.

    To me, i buy an air filter based on cost. Change them at 10k-15k miles which is about once a year for me.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    I ran a K&N on a Harley Softail Custom for several years. My main satisfaction was the "no maintenance" aspect. (:oÞ
  • mdeymdey Posts: 90
    I put a K&N air filter cartridge in the existing box of a 92 Ford Explorer 4x4. 4,200lb. truck with a 155hp engine. It needed all the help it could get.

    The truck had 108,000 miles on it when I put the filter in. I pulled the filter out at 130,000 and inspected. It was loaded up with dust and dirt. I put it back without cleaning. I plan to clean it at about 150,000 miles. I also inspected the Mass Air Flow Sensor, it was clean and free of oil. The hose from the filter box to the intake also was clean. The throttle valve was a bit brown, but that is fairly normal for the car and I "hosed" it down with carb cleaner. 136,000 miles on it now, runs like a top, doesn't burn a drop of oil.

    As for performance, I did notice an improvement in throttle response and a bit better acceleration. However, where I really noticed the power improvement is in towing. I pulled a trailer last summer six or seven times between Atlanta and Columbia, SC. Wow, what a difference. Before the K&N, towing really labored the truck. Due to the low horsepower of the truck, I have to run it in third gear when it pulls a load. Before the K&N, 2500 rpms, or about 65 mph, was about it. After that the engine really started to buzz and labor. After the K&N 75 mph was a breeze and 3,200 rpms was no more noticeable than 2,500 rpms, other than increased throttle sounds. No other performance upgrades on the car. By the way, gas mileage stayed about the same in routine driving, but towing mpg improved about 3 mpg.

    It may let more fine particles through, but I change the oil with Castrol and an FL1A filter every 3,000 miles. So far so good, but I wouldn't use it on either of my other cars that have substantially more horsepower and a more delicate engine.
  • "it lets more particles through"? and "air flow is diminished"? The whole point of my original question was: with the huge volume of air that passes through an engine, it seems like "you" guys would be as concerned about air filters as you are about oil and oil filters. If any particles get past the air filter, won't some of them stick to the cylinder walls to be scraped by the rings against the cylinder? And, even if a filter doesn't look dirty to the eye, how many fine particles are actually clogging the pores so that air flow is diminished. It seems that the damage possible from an inferior air filter is at least as high, or higher than an inferior oil filter. I was hoping to flame a good argument here - come on, make my day!
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    K&N claims that their technology leads to accelerated air flow with added turbulence, and that these desirable characteristics increase for a considerable period of time as the filter gets "dirtier." There is an optimal point, and then a decreasing return after that. One should clean the filter after the optimal intersect of axis and abscissa is reached.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    Are there any "poor" air filters out there to avoid? Perhaps one reason there is less debate on air filters compared to oil filters is the lack of known low performers.
    I recently bought several Penske air filters at KMART, believing that the WIX origin of the filters was a dynamite recommendation. Any filters made by WIX are very likely to be excellent choices.
  • brorjacebrorjace Posts: 588
    I cleaned my K&N cone filter over the weekend. It hadn't dawned on me until I saw how dirty it was, but I hadn't cleaned it in a few years ... 33,000 miles total. I had an oil sample tested over the winter and it had 7,200 miles on it, all of them while this filthy K&N filter was on the car. My PPM rating for silicon (silica, sand, dust, etc ...) was 14 ... which is pretty good.

    So no, I don't think that the K&N lets more junk through. As long as it is well oiled, you should be fine.

    I'm not sure about the flow and efficiency rates for the different types of media (foam vs. paper. vs cotton gauze, etc ...) but I measured the cone of my K&N and it has about 89-90 of surface filter area. This compares very well with my factory element which has less than 50 Even if the media flowed at the same rate, the K&N has almost twice the area.

    Cleaning the filter, I did as the K&N cleaning kit suggested but as I was handling the thing while it dried, I noticed that it still looked dirty and still had an oily film over much of it. I hosed the beast down with Simple Green (a gentle-enough degreaser), let it sit for 1/2 hour then rinsed it out under the faucet in a bucket.

    Jeepers! As much stuff ran out of it the second time as the first! Then, I rinsed it again in fresh water to get rid of any trace of Simple Green and still more stuff ran out of the filter. But, it looked MUCH better at this point so I merely let it dry then re-oiled it.

    Our weather turned bad today (more snow & slop) so I will put it back on the car in a week or two. During the winter months, I run the stock airbox and paper filter.

    --- Bror Jace
  • wainwain Posts: 479
    I disagree - remember the 3 Camry filters I cut open?
    Wix had the smallest filter area - 10% less than supertech, and 30% less than purolater.

    That doesnt make them an excellent choice to me.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    Please don't overlook the fact that more surface area does not necessarily mean better filtering. I don't have the facts in this case, but I must consider that WIX has a very strong reputation. They make NAPA air filters, which are not particularly assailable. They are among the best built filters on the market, and I would assume (maybe wrongly!) that the media they employ does a better job per square inch than a lot of competitor's. Now, in my case, the air filter need only have the square inches to go a meager 10K or slightly over.
  • brorjacebrorjace Posts: 588
    wain, I'll stand by the fact that Wix filters are well made, but in some applications, they are not ideal. I do not use their oil filters on my Honda any longer because of the reason you cited: the filter cartridge inside is rather small compared to the external casing. There are better filters available for my Honda 4-cyl.

    Still, for many applications (like domestic V8s) they are very good.

    --- Bror Jace
  • fleetwoodsimca, I hate to burst your bubble yet again, but I also had a bad experience with a Wix air filter. I purchased a Wix filter for my 18 hp Briggs and Stratton Van Guard engine and it just didn't fit into the air cleaner housing correctly. However, I believe that they make excellent filters and I use them on most of my farm equipment. I talked to our local CAT service facility recently and he told me of an engine ruined because a "will fit" Hastings fuel filter didn't have the proper micron rating and abrasives got into the engine. I bet that most of these companies have a few odd ball filters that are just not up to snuff for certain equipment. Over the years, I have found that almost always it is a mistake to idolize any one company for all of it's products - sooner or later it will fall off the pedestal. Marketing and advertising makes it so hard to figure what's best. Bose speakers have a very strong reputation also, but go to any audiophile web site and one will find out that Bose is the Fram of the audio world.

    My two cents - now I'm broke.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    You'll get no argument from me! I don't own any WIX stock, and I often use FRAM air filters, because I think they are very good. I have yet to identify a brand of air filters that are substandard as a general rule. I think WIX air filters are as generally trustworthy as any on the market. Specialty filters for small engines can be a problem. I have a boxer twin B&S engine of 18 h.p., and have a stock of Foley-PLP made "Quick Fix" air filters for it. I hope they work. Did WIX sell you a bogus filter, or is your filter box not appropriate for the filter you bought? (:oÞ
  • wainwain Posts: 479
    some of the smaller BS engines have slight differences in the filters
    why they don't standardize is beyond me - you know a 4 hp is different than a 3.5
  • jc1973jc1973 Posts: 63
  • vidtechvidtech Posts: 212
    those filters can be cleaned as long as they do not fall apart.
This discussion has been closed.