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Which Type of Panel Air Filter Is Best?

April 22, 2022 3 min read

One of the most overlooked aspects of routine maintenance on a vehicle is that of the engine air filter. This component is essential in maintaining your vehicle’s performance as it functions to prevent dust and other small particles in the air from entering the combustion chamber. When your air filter accumulates buildup, performance and fuel efficiency can really suffer.

Things to consider
There are important factors to consider when selecting the next panel air filter for your vehicle. Airflow is an important consideration as greater air restriction to the engine results in poor overall performance. Another aspect is the filtration capability as small particles that pass through the filter and enter the engine can cause irreversible damage to the cylinder walls. Lastly, durability and longevity vary depending on the kind of filter you pick so knowing the material and construction is essential.

Types of engine air filters
There are currently three different types of air filters on the market, each with unique characteristics. Many car manufacturers include a paper-based filtering element which keeps fine particulate matter out of the engine. There are also foam air filters that are commonly used for off-roading vehicles. Cloth-based filters feature greater surface area to allow for better airflow.

Paper air filters are the most common find when you open up a stock airbox as this material filters out most small particles from the air. However with the thick, dense paper fiber construction, airflow is greatly restricted. Because paper filters are not washable, these are considered disposable products that need to be completely replaced once dirty.



Paper-based filter

Oiled foam air filters are a popular pick for off-road vehicles as they can take on extremely dirty conditions without passing many particles through or compromising air delivery. Although these are durable, longevity is not a strong point. Despite being washable, foam filters cannot be thoroughly cleaned because of the thick, web-like construction. These will need to be replaced once air permeability declines.

Oiled foam-based filter

Cloth-based filters work well to allow for increased air passage to the engine so many people replace their stock air filters with these in order to see a slight performance bump. Consequently, fuel economy also improves as the engine burns gas more efficiently. The pleated design on these filters allow for a larger filtering surface that is held in shape by an aluminum or steel mesh that also makes them more durable. By far the easiest to clean and maintain, these can last for years when taken care of properly. The downside to these types of filters is that the woven material is not exactly ideal for blocking fine particles from flowing through. To combat this, most cloth filters are oiled so that particles better stick to the filtering element.

Oiled cloth-based filter

HPS Performance Drop-In Air Filter
We wanted to offer a panel filter that would hold up against any condition since it plays such an important role in maintaining the health and protection of the engine. Made using the same high-quality materials as the signature HPS cone air filters included in our HPS Performance air intake systems, our cotton-based drop-in air filters are engineered to last the life of your vehicle when given routine maintenance. Our filters are encased between stainless steel mesh and framed using low pressure injection molded rubber in order to retain its rigid pleats. This filter is coated with a specially formulated oil that traps fine particles within the double-layered woven cotton media while still allowing for up to 25% more airflow than the leading manufacturer. When it’s time to clean your air filter, there are just a few steps to bringing it back to peak performance using our HPS Performance Air Filter Cleaner and Recharge Kit. Just wash, re-oil, and reinstall every 12,000 miles or once a year. Consider switching to an HPS Performance Drop-In Air Filter to reduce the amount of waste from disposable filters while increasing horsepower and fuel efficiency.

HPS Performance Drop-In Air Filter for various Lexus and Toyota SUVs (HPS-457017)


To order, click here.


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