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Cold air intake installed on a Dodge Charger Hemi V-8 engine
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Are High-Performance Air Filters Actually Worth the Money?

Installing a high-performance air filter, also called a high-flow air filter, can have several minor benefits for your vehicle, such as increased horsepower and improved fuel economy, but does it make enough of a difference to make it worth the cost? For some DIY modifiers and car builders, high-performance air filters is where we start.

Any auto parts store you go to sells high-performance air filters, and chances are, if you enjoy modifying your car, you’ve purchased at least one. For the average driver, however, the idea of installing one of these performance air filters may not have crossed your mind, or, you may have wondered if it was even worth spending the money at all. If your vehicle doesn’t come from the factory with a high-flow air filter, switching it out isn’t a part of your regular maintenance, but there are still a few reasons why people choose to spend money on this basic and easy modification.

What is considered a high-performance air filter?

Cold air intake installed on a Dodge Charger Hemi V-8 engine
Cold air intake installed on a Dodge Charger Hemi V-8 engine | Education Images, Universal Images Group, Getty Images

A high-performance air filter is more technically referred to as a high-flow air filter, which does well to explain what makes it different than your average air filter. High-flow air filters work in a manner similar to standard air filters, as it removes particles and debris that can be kicked up by the road or caught in the wind to protect your motor. These small particles, even at the smallest, can do a surprising amount of damage to your engine’s internal components, which must be clean and well-lubricated to perform to it’s best ability. High-performance air filters allow for more air flow into the engine, which can supposedly increase your horsepower by an almost non-mentionable amount of 3 – 5 hp.

What are the benefits of high-flow air filters?

Allowing more air into your engine provides the engine with a more substantial amount of, well, air. Air is a critical factor in the internal combustion process that occurs inside of the engine, and ensuring your vehicle has adequate air flow can maximize engine output and efficiency. Not only will the high-performance air filter slightly boost your horsepower, it will also improve your vehicle’s fuel economy. Fuel economy is improved because high-performance air fiters pull air from outside of the engine bay where the air is cooler. Cooler air outside of the engine bay is more dense than the hot air inside of the engine bay — air which is heated by the engine’s internal combustion and other moving mechanisms that create heat via friction.

Are high-performance air filters worth the money?

High-performance air filters vary in price greatly depending on your vehicle, the type of performance air filter, and the brand. For most vehicles, it isn’t a necessity, which is made obvious because they aren’t provided by manufacturer when the vehicle is produced, meaning that the engine is designed to work just fine without the additional airflow. If you are interested in modifying your vehicle slightly, however, most tuners and car enthusiasts start with this simple modification, as it can be done easily and typically doesn’t break the bank. It is important to note that high-performance air filters are considered a modification and may void your warranty if you have a new vehicle that is still within the warranty period.


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High-performance air filters are by no means a necessity, but for car enthusiasts and DIY modifiers, high-flow air filters are a great way to give your car a bit of an edge, and can become necessary with more heavy modifications to your vehicle’s drivetrain. For some people, the addition of a high-performance air filter isn’t a necessity, but rather something worth buying simply because they are interested in modifying their vehicle.