Are Reusable Car Air Filters Worth It?

Do reusable car air filters offer any performance benefit? Learn about their benefits & maintenance tips here.

Are Reusable Car Air Filters Worth It?

Many of us use reusable or washable air filters in our vehicles, but do they really offer any performance benefit? Independent tests have found that these filters offer little performance benefit, and some even allow more dirt to enter the engine, which can damage the engine oil. If you plan to keep your car for the long term, a reusable filter is a good investment that will pay for itself. However, if you only lease your car for a few years, you won't get that money in terms of paying for disposable filters or longer engine life. Rent a car, stick to the paper. Buying the best air filter for your car shouldn't be difficult, but with hundreds of types and brands, The Drive is here to help you make the decision easier.

Although they offer long-term savings, washable filters tend to be more expensive than standard air filters. A high-quality washable air filter removes foreign particles from the oil that circulates in engine components for greater protection and longevity. In addition, the breathable cotton fabric used in these filters tends to better absorb particles and allows more air to enter the engine, resulting in better long-term engine health. As with any automotive product, there is much more opinion about air filters than real data from scientific tests. I've seen some amazing statements about the power gains of modified air filters and induction systems; while you might gain one or two horsepower at a very specific RPM, they never deliver power across the entire range.

One measure is filter efficiency, which refers to the amount of particulate matter that does not pass through the filter. Air intake modifications are a favorite in the tuning industry, so I've tried every variety you can imagine, from simple intake filters to polished aluminum cold air induction kits, to custom-made carbon fiber air chambers. Oil has been used to trap dust in air filters for almost as long as internal combustion engines have existed. Without a washable air filter, you'll have to change them frequently; otherwise, contaminants can degrade engine parts. Once you've removed it from the car, hit it several times to make the heavy material fall, and then spray the K&N air filter cleaner on both sides of the filter. It's worth noting that some oils are not only not compatible between different brands of filters for optimal performance, but others dissolve competing filters. Fortunately, washable air filters can be easily cleaned and replaced at any time, allowing homeowners to remove harmful contaminants.

Washable air filters are made with layers of cotton that capture more contaminants, allow greater airflow and require less maintenance. Most washable air filters must be cleaned and re-greased approximately 50,000 miles, compared to replacing a paper filter every 15,000 miles.