High Performance Air Filters Might Not Live Up to Expectations

Will putting a high-performance air filter on your car’s engine really boost its efficiency and horsepower? One car enthusiast put four filters to the test.
Shelby Rogers

Performance air filters claim to boost a car’s horsepower and acceleration. But do they actually work as well as the manufacturer’s claim? YouTube engineer Jason Fenske tested out four popular brands of filters to see if they’re really worth the money.

Performance filters claim that less restrictive air filters bring more air into the engine. More air means more efficiency, and more efficiency means more power. As Fenske points out, more air could also mean the engine can inject more fuel for more power.

Fenske tested four types of air filters. First, up was an already dirty air filter that existed in the engine. The original equipment filter had probably taken on 3,000 to 6,000 miles at the time of the experiment. The second filter was a brand new version of the original equipment that was clean. The third filter was a low-cost option at a lower price point than the replacement filter of the original part.

The final filter was the high-performance filter that came at the highest price point. Fenske mentioned he bought a K&N filter that ranges anywhere from $37 to $270 depending on the make, model, and year of the car.

After putting the four filters to the test, Fenske determined performance air filters could actually help an engine make a bit more horsepower, but the improvements are minor.

“You’re not going to get put back in your seat and thrill with all the performance that you get, but for how easy it is to do and for the small convenience, it’s cool,” Fenske said.