Can Air Filters Increase Engine Power?

Do Performance Air Filters Work?

To understand the effect of performance air filters it is necessary to understand how air filters work.

In this article:

How Do Air Filters Work?

The engine is basically a large air pump that inhales and expels a lot of air. So it is safe to say that the engine needs sufficient air supply which needs to be clean and plentiful. But how can you supply clean air to the engine? That is where the Air Filter plays the all-important role. 

The job of an air filter is to treat and refine the air passing through the air intake into the engine cylinders. The filter is made of porous materials that act as a sieve to filter out incoming air particles and separate the air molecules from the impurities. The air molecules are allowed to pass through whereas the crud remains caught in the filter membrane. In modern fuel-injected vehicles, the air filters are placed in a large plastic box in the engine bay. Whereas in carbureted engines, the air filter is part of the carburetor housing and placed right on top of the carburetor. 

How Do Performance Air Filters Increase Engine Horsepower?

Now that you have an idea of how air filters function; by providing air to the engine while restricting the flow of impurities, you can begin to understand how performance air filters work. In OEM or normal air filters, as the number of filtered particles or impurities increases in the air filter membrane, it starts to get dirtier and the air has to work harder to pass through the filter membrane and make it to the engine. This increasingly affects the engine by depriving it of sufficient air to carry out successful combustion and therefore ultimately decreases the engine efficiency and power output. The OEM air filters are most commonly made of paper materials that are susceptible to clogging more often and need to be replaced regularly. 

On the other hand, performance or high flow air filters are made of different materials like cotton gauze which are naturally less restrictive to airflow than paper, and therefore allow more air to pass through the filter into the engine. This increase in airflow supply enriches the engine with extra air to carry out a more efficient combustion process which ultimately yields more power. The power increase may not be drastic but is certainly quantifiable by a definite increase of about 3 to 5 horsepower. Along with the obvious benefit of horsepower gains, performance air filters also require less maintenance and last much longer than traditional air filters. This is because high-quality air filters are able to withstand more impurities without clogging up which means they need to be replaced much less often.

If you wish to further boost your vehicle’s power by upgrading components in your vehicle, easily and without it costing a fortune then take a look at ten ways to increase engine performance

How To Replace Air Filter?

Air filters are encased in a large plastic box that is usually coloured black. They are easy to spot since they are the only plastic structure attached to the engine via ducts or hoses. In carbureted engines, the air filter makes up a section of the carburetor and sits atop the structure. It is a large cylindrical part much different from the ones found in today’s car, which are either rectangular or square-shaped flat pieces with rubber edges to seal against any leaks. Most engines have varied air filter designs and are made to fit the intake opening. 

Once you determine the location of the filter, replacing it is the easy part. To expose the air filter you will need to remove the cover or housing it sits in. This is attached via some bolts and hose clips or clamps which are all fairly simple to remove with a screwdriver or ratchet and the appropriate socket. Open the box and replace the filter making sure to compare it to the new one. The air filter sits snug in the housing and the loose filters can be detrimental to the engine functioning. Once the new filter sits firmly in the old one’s location, close the box and secure it using the previously removed bolts and clamps.


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John Framigllia
Technical Writer
Our technical writer is known for simplifying automotive parts and services. Intuitive with various vehicles and manufacturers, he knows how to simplify complicated problems.