Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Any recommendations for brands of air filter?

need to change air filter and cabin filter. I have been doing my research and have read about K&N products. they have received good marks from customers but I have also read about the oil on them being a problem for some. is it worth it?

I know it’s lifetime but I don’t mind spending so little for a brand new filter every 12,000 miles if it’s part of maintenance and good for the car.

any brands people recommend?

Don’t use a K&N filter. These aren’t very efficiant in filtering out small particulates.

I work for a filter company and we tested the K&N filters for efficiency. The tech that ran the tests concluded that K&N filters are good for keeping birds and chipmunks out of the engine.

Install an OEM type air filter. If there were any benefit of using a K&N filter in the vehicle, it would have come from the factory with one installed.

Fram makes good filters.


thanks! I think I saw Fram at auto parts store for engine filter but they dont have the right one for cabin filter for my honda. What is your opinion of STP and Borsch?

I wouldn’t worry about the brand too much. I’ve never had any problem with the brands of air filters (Purolator, Fram, K&N, Pep Boys, etc). The important thing is to replace the filter at the recommended interval (~30k for most cars).

Ed B.

thanks Ed, tima here. I am planning to change the cabin air filter myself. I have honda accord 2002. My manual does not say how but I found youtube video that showed how. I’m pretty sure my filter is behind glove compartment. When watching video, i was surprised how cheap parts are. I was surprised how many screws, etc you have to remove first. Is it really that easy? also, the instructions says pay attention to air flow direction arrows and reverse steps to complete filter change…the pictures on instructions is small and black and white and not easy to see…any suggestions on how to exactly get the right one where it needs to be…reverse order means to replace the last one I took out first before putting the top one in(the one to replace the first one I took out)?

I buy a K&N as soon as I get a new vehicle and never have to buy another filter as long as I own the cars. I have had one for 14 years now. Just follow the cleaning and oiling instructions. Don’t over-oil it and let it sit 24 hours after oiling before using it in the car.

K&N filter are fine for those who want to care for them properly, washing and reoiling required. For most people, just a replacement paper filter is fine.

I’m not brand sensitive regarding filters. I do pull it out of the box and check to see if it appears to be decent quality at the store before paying for it. Only rejected one over the years.

The instructions you have should be enough, once you see the set up it shouldn’t be hard. The new filter should have an arrow on it to show airflow direction. Before you take every thing apart put the heater control on defrost and put the fan to max and feel the airflow at the base of the windshield. After you are done do the same test and you should feel the same amount of air or more with the new filter in place. If not, go back and check your work.

Use an OEM or Purolator Classic (96.5% efficiency) or Purolator Pure One (pre-wetted with oil and 99% efficiency according to the manufacturer). The Purolators use a combination of paper and a synthetic fiber. Change your engine air filter and cabin air filter (most 2004 and later vehicles have them) every 12,000 miles or once a year UNLESS your OM specifies sooner due to operating in very dusty areas. Better yet, check the filter at six months and if the side facing the throttle body is dirty, replace it.

They’re inexpensive and readily available at Wally-Mart in every size but the one for your vehicle. You can also get them through various autoparts stores or automotive internet sites.

K&N? Expensive initial cost, expensive cleaner/re-oiler kits, labor intensive to maintain and very easy to over oil. IMHO, not worth the effort for a few more HP and little or no increase in gas mileage.

Clean air, clean oil and clean gas are three of the key factors in preventive maintenance.

Happy motoring,

Al in MD