Performance Air Filter On HP Gain, MPG & Engine Damage

Performance air filter will improve your car’s performance and its fuel efficiency. It can help gain a little horsepower (1-5 horsepower) on your car by delivering cleaner and cooler air into the engine.

Personally, I have installed cold air intake. I have tried different types of air filters previously, and I would say Cone type air filters are the best ones. It does make a good sound that will put a smile on your face.

Cone air filter is a better choice if you want a louder sound during acceleration. Cone air filters are not enclosed inside an airbox – allowing them to be louder and suck more air. However, they are harder to install compared to flat air filters.

LEARN MORE: Cone Air Filter Vs Flat Air Filter

In this article, we are going to cover everything you need to know when it comes to performance air filters:-

    1. What Does Performance Air Filter Do
    2. Horsepower Gain From Performance Air Filter
    3. Does Performance Air Filter Improve Gas Mileage
    4. Can Performance Air Filter Cause Engine Damage
    5. Performance Air Filters Are Reusable
    6. Does Performance Air Filter Improve Engine Sound
    7. Drop In Filter Vs Cone Filter
    8. Performance Air Filter Vs Cold Air Intake 
    9. Should You Install Performance Air Filter

What Does Performance Air Filter Do

Performance air filters are designed to be less restrictive. The idea is to allow more air flow into the engine to produce bigger combustion and thus, more horsepower.

Less restriction is always good for performance. However, this also means that performance air filters are not as good as stock when it comes to trapping dirt and impurities in the air. 

Performance air filters generally come in 2 variants: drop in (flat) air filters and pod air filters. I will talk more about these types later. 

Horsepower Gain From Performance Air Filter

Performance air filters are specifically designed to improve cars performance. These filters allow it to draw much more air than the regular air filter inside of the engine. Thus, greater combustion and generating more power (1-5 HP increase).

If you don’t already know, a car needs air to create combustion and deliver power to its wheels. To improve performance, you want to increase incoming air into the engine. 

A car engine sucks air from the surrounding – air which could be dirty – filled with dust, debris, sand and insects. You don’t want any of these to enter your car’s internal parts (otherwise, bad things will happen). Which is why we use an air filter.

The performance improvements aren’t as obvious. You won’t get to instantly feel the difference straight away, considering it even has the word ‘performance’ on it’s name! But I think it’s worth it for the sound improvement.

Can Performance Air Filter Cause Engine Damage

Performance air filters do not cause engine damage. Performance air filters are coated with oil to further filter debris and impurities – making them good enough to filter out most harmful debris

I never had any problems from installing performance air filters. I do expect more debris to enter the engine. However, this would only cause minor internal wear and tear – which has been fine so far for me. 

If you are looking for one, I am personally using this Cone Air Filter by K&N that I bought from Amazon. It is reasonably priced, especially considering it is a universal model.

RELATED ARTICLE: Performance Air Filters: Insurance, Warranty & The Law

Performance Air Filters Are Reusable

You can reuse performance air filters! Replacing them is not required. The manufacturers like K&N claim that washing is only required every 50,000 miles.

 In comparison, the stock paper based air filter needs to be replaced every 15,000 miles.

From what I hear from my friends and other online resources, a performance air filter needs to be cleaned after about 30,000 miles or so. Sounds too good to be true? 

Of course this also depends on the environmental condition you are living in. Sandy and dusty areas will need more cleaning.

Note: Remember to let it dry off before using. You wouldn’t want your engine to draw water and possibly damage itself.

Does Performance Air Filter Improve Engine Sound

Yes, with a performance air filter allowing more air flow, the sound of the car also changes. These increased airflow will lead to a more aggressive sound when you drive.

The improvement is significant if you are using a cone shaped performance air filter. The sound it makes when it’s drawing air is just incredible. Although not so much in terms of engine roar, it’s still a noticeable difference. 

If you want a more affordable mod instead of cold air intake these cone shaped performance air filters are the best option.

RELATED ARTICLE: Does Cold Air Intake Make A Car Louder?

Drop In Filter Vs Cone Filter

Quick answer – cone air filter is a better choice if you want a louder sound during acceleration. Cone air filters are not enclosed inside an airbox – allowing them to be louder and suck more air. However, they are harder to install compared to flat air filters.

A performance air filter can be flat or cone. It does not mean that every flat air filter is stock and every cone is performance. 

Cone Air Filter Flat Air Filter
Louder Sound YES NO
Increased Performance MINOR MINOR
Exposed YES NO
Installation NOT DIFFICULT EASY
Prone to Water Damage YES NO
Warranty Impact YES NO
Needs Heat Shield YES NO
Price ~$60 ~$60

Flat air filters are the most common type of air filter. They are enclosed inside the car’s air box. Having an air box means that the noise of air flow will be muffled. 

Manufacturers purposefully design the airbox this way because the general population of drivers do not enjoy noisy cars. Only us car enthusiasts do.

Cone air filters are larger than a flat air filter. They are shaped as a cone and replace your existing air filter and air box. This means a cone air filter is not enclosed inside an air box – allowing them to pull in more air.

When equipping  a cone air filter, you hear the sound of air rushing into your engine as you accelerate – a unique sound that makes cone air filters worth it!

Performance Air Filter Vs Cold Air Intake 

For sound and horsepower, I actually recommend you go for cold air intake instead. The sound improvement is much better and you are optimizing the whole intake system instead of just a part of it (just the air filter).

Which muffler is your car right now?

Cone Air FilterSimilar to cone air filters, a cold air intake will not provide you with a massive horsepower difference. However, the sound improvement is much more notable.

A cold air intake can cost about $300. If you don’t have the budget, and still want the sound of air rushing into your engine, then you could look into drilling holes on your airbox instead. 

Correct holes on your airbox could reduce the muffling of the airbox. It could also allow more air to enter your engine. Just make sure you drill the holes on the side or bottom of the airbox. This way hot air from the engine bay won’t flow in.

After looking through a dozen cold air intakes, the best cold air intake is still the K&N Cold Air Intake.

Should You Install Performance Air Filter

From my personal opinion, a performance air filter is definitely worth it given its price. For about $65, you will have an improved horsepower, and even better on turbo-boosted engines.

Replacing a stock air filter into a performance air filter is simple. It’s just a matter of opening the air filter compartment and popping the performance air filter in. If you have a cone shaped performance air filter, then you might need to use screws to lock it in place.

I hope you find this article useful and can decide whether to go for a performance air filter or abort! 

Chai WJ.

Chai WJ.

I am a car enthusiast and a passionate rider who loves to discover new places. Since the pandemic, I can't go to places and I started to blog and share information that I learned. I'm not easily distracted, I just... OMG, do I hear a Supra?

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