Are All Engine Air Filters the Same? A Comprehensive Guide

Learn about all types of engine air filters including particulate cabin filters & activated carbon cabin filters & how often they should be changed.

Are All Engine Air Filters the Same? A Comprehensive Guide

In addition to the brand or type of filter you get, the answer to the question of whether all engine air filters are the same is that there is no difference. An air cleaner element is exactly the same as an air cleaner. However, some manufacturers may share power plants and therefore service parts will be identical. Your car's oil filter sifts dirt particles differently than a filter sieves ground coffee in a coffee maker.

It is a popular mistake to think that dirt particles in a car filter are filtered the same way as through a filter in a coffee maker. That's not how an oil filter works. The design of the media in an automotive oil filter forms a kind of labyrinth through which the fluid must “negotiate” its way. With careful engineering, a filter manufacturer like Purolator designs the media as a kind of labyrinth through which fluid will pass, but particles will not. The engine air filter does not have to be changed almost as often as an oil filter.

Most vehicle owners have heard of the need to change oil and filter at regular intervals, but few understand the value of changing their car's engine air filter. A vehicle ingests 10,000 gallons of air for every gallon of fuel it consumes. In other words, the volume of air entering the engine is ten thousand times the volume of gasoline. Imagine, if the air entering the engine is dirty, and the air on roads and highways contains all kinds of pollutants, such as soot, dust and dirt, what will this unfiltered air need to damage critical engine components and possibly cause cylinder wear? While you may not notice the effects right away, over time the presence of contaminants will cause a much greater chance of needing major repairs or a new engine. Therefore, it is so important to change the engine air filter at least as often as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. However, if you are driving in particularly dusty conditions or off-road, it's a good idea to change your air filter more often.

Always follow the “normal” service schedule in your owner's manual when replacing the oil filter. The fact is that most of us, most of the time, drive short distances, which really requires us to follow a “severe”, not “normal” service program. The reason is that if your vehicle doesn't drive on the road for long distances, the oil doesn't have a chance to heat up enough for water, condensation, and crude fuel to evaporate from the crankcase. Over time, this condensation builds up and can cause costly damage to internal engine parts. All filter media are the same.

Each type of filter requires a unique medium to work properly, explained Kevin O'Dowd, Director of Marketing & Communications for MANN+HUMMEL Purolator Filters. Nothing can be done about unpleasant odors on the road, for example, in a construction area or in a farm country. Many motorists don't know that if their vehicle is a 2001 model or newer, it is probably equipped with a cabin air filter, a device that is designed to keep the air inside the car clean and free of dust, smoke and even unpleasant odors that enter through the ventilation grilles even when the windows are rolled up. All filters are practically the same. Filtration is about capturing and retaining debris and contaminants that could otherwise cause gradual wear and tear or even catastrophic engine failure. And since most of the oil filter features are buried inside the filter, it's easy to assume that all oil filters are the same. When it comes to filters, brand name doesn't matter.

It's a good idea to trust manufacturers who place their decades of reputation on the design, construction and performance of components, materials and engineering that for the most part go unnoticed once assembled. Therefore motorists and do-it-yourselfers should rely on engines to filters manufactured by those who have pioneered innovations such as Purolator who invented first automotive oil filter, first full-flow oil filter and screw-on oil filter. Modern vehicles have two very important air filters integrated into their engine and cabin designs: do you know what they are? These two filters have similar construction and materials but perform very different tasks. When you commit to a regular maintenance program for replacement of these filters you help maintain overall performance and comfort of your vehicle. Before you come to your next service appointment at your preferred auto shop learn how these two components work and benefit you and your vehicle. Maintenance schedules for different vehicle brands differ in how often air filter needs to be changed. These filters are electrostatically charged similar to many household HVAC filters to ensure that particles remain attached to filter.

As name suggests this air filter is located inside engine to keep harmful debris out of this system. Air is extremely important for all vehicles because air around us contains silica dust and other debris. When servicing your vehicle you may not be surprised if your mechanic tells you it's time to replace air filter however you may get confused if they tell you that you need two air filter replacements. The cabin air filter should also be changed periodically but at different time than engine air cleaner. The purpose of engine air filter is prevent dust dirt and other environmental contaminants from entering engine. Hitting replacement filter elements against hard surface will remove large loose debris if you have compressed air that will help remove finer particles for best results Purolator recommends changing your vehicle's cabin air filter every 12000 18000 miles or at intervals suggested by vehicle manufacturer in owner's manual. Two types of cabin filters are available for modern vehicles: particulate cabin filter and activated carbon cabin filter foam and performance.