Different Types of Air Filters for Cars Explained

Different Types of Air Filters for Cars

The fuel system offers the engine a viable air-fuel mixture. The carburetor is where air and gasoline are mixed.

One part of fuel requires 16 parts of the air for the petrol engine to work normally. In comparison to gasoline, a large amount of air goes through the carburetor and into the engine.

Dust and grime are likely to be present in the air. Dust and dirt particles will severely damage the engine if the air is not clean before entering the carburetor.

They’ll clog the carburetor and fuel injector. As well as increasing surface roughness on the piston, piston rings, cylinder walls, and bearings.

Along with it, other mechanical components also suffer. On the other hand, it can also cause health issues.

This is where the role of air filters comes in. There are different types of air filters for cars available. Each of them has a different type and performs differently.

In this post, we’ll look at the various types of filters in your vehicle and why you should consider updating them regularly.

Why are the Air Filters so important?

The combustion process in an automobile requires oxygen. Just like humans need oxygen to survive.

Different types of air filters for cars are important to make sure that your car is getting proper oxygen. The air filter keeps insects, dust, grains, sand, and debris out of the engine.

This helps to maintain a good air-fuel mixture for maximum effectiveness. The check engine light will illuminate long before a recent automobile begins to emit smoke.

This indicates that the air filter has reached the end of its useful life. Different types of air filters for cars are a simple component in the intake manifold that cleans the air coming into the engine of pollutants.

Bugs, water, road grit, pollen, and dirt are kept out by the screen, including anything else that blows into your vehicle’s grill.

Another important thing is, driving with a clogged air filter has the potential to harm your health more than driving without one.

One of the easiest filters to replace or maintain out of different types of air filters for cars is the air filter. You can lift out the filter by removing the intake pipe from the air collection box.

Place the filter in front of the light. You should do a cleaning or replacing if you can’t see the light through it.

Moving on, there are other factors to consider while choosing an air filter. We’ll look at the filter’s material, shape, and whether it’s oiled or dry.

Continue reading ahead to know more about different types of air filters for cars.

Type of Material

Your engine’s air filter can be built out of a variety of materials. Paper, foam, and cotton are the most prevalent materials found.


The paper air filter is one of the most prevalent and is there as a standard kit in most automobiles. These are effective at filtering impurities.

But, they can also limit airflow. Paper filters are often the cheapest, but you cannot clean or reuse them.

If you plan on keeping your car for at least ten thousand miles, it might be worth it to pay a little more upfront for a reusable filter. It will save you cash in the long term.


Another approach for different types of air filters for cars is to use a foam filter. This is usually reserved for small engines that are responsible for the equipment.

This is since it filters efficiently in dusty situations. It also restricts airflow substantially more than the other varieties.

These endure longer than paper filters and, in some situations, can be recycled. The foam filter may be the best option if functionality isn’t a priority.


Most secondary filters use cotton as their primary material. This is because this material not only provides great filtration but also allows for the most airflow.

If the filter is lubricated, it can provide extra filtration capabilities. The cotton filter is normally held in place by a metal framework to maintain its shape. The shape can be somewhat varied.

Type of shape

Different types of air filters for cars can take on a variety of shapes. The shape of the filter can have a big impact on how much air it can take in and how well it works.

A panel and a cone shape are the two most frequent shapes for an air filter.


A panel filter is useful in most factory air conditioners. A flat surface is a panel filter.

It can be advantageous to upgrade your panel filter from the factory paper component to a cotton filter element. But altering the filter or intake entirely can produce even better results.

The higher the filter’s total area, the more air it can take in. Pleats or ridges are used in most filters to improve the surface area.

Following that logic, most replacement filters have these pleats arranged in a cone form to increase the surface area even more than a flat panel.


When trying to funnel air into a tube, a cone form provides a large increase in surface area.

Although a large panel with the same surface area might be used, the cone shape provides for more consistent velocity funneling to the intake tube all through the filter.

To offer even more surface area, some filters incorporate an inverted cone within the center of the cone form.

Oiled air filter or dry air filter?

Oiled filter

Most enhanced intakes come with a cotton-based oiled filter. This is because an oiled filter will normally allow more airflow.

Also, cotton is more resilient than paper when it comes to cleaning. Larger micron pores are mostly responsible for the enhanced airflow.

On the other hand, the larger filter holes will allow more pollutants to enter the engine. While this is legally correct, the difference is usually less than 1%.

The oil on the filter acts as a barrier. It allows air to pass through while trapping impurities before they reach the form of media.

Dry filter

In different types of air filters for cars, the majority of OEM filters are dry. These are typically paper or foam-based filters in a panel design.

As previously said, these filters do an excellent job of screening impurities from your engine’s intake. However, they are somewhat limiting.

The restriction becomes considerably more of a burden to performance after a coat of dirt.

Dry filters will require less maintenance. But, this is primarily because they are not normally reusable because washing them would harm the paper material.

You might be able to extend the life of a dry filter by blowing it with an air compressor in a pinch.

However, there is a limit to how many times this can be repeated. If you’re racing in dusty circumstances, the dry filter will be useful because it won’t need much maintenance.

The oiled preparer will give most drivers the advantage when it comes to filtering demands.

Bottom Line

When it comes to selecting the best intake air filter for your application, it all boils down to your requirements.

The circumstances you’re driving in, as well as whether or not you’re willing to do some maintenance. These are the most significant factors to consider when selecting different types of air filters for cars.

If maximum quality is important, an oiled filter in any shape you can find is the way to go. A performance dry filter may be a right match if you’re racing off-road or simply don’t want to deal with upkeep.

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