Car filters catch contaminants and prevent issues such as excessive engine wear and cabin air pollution. But filtering through the countless filter options available can feel very overwhelming.
Check out this video of Chris Robinson explaining how to shop for car filters at your local NAPA Auto Parts store, then read on for more practical tips.
Car Filter Types and Uses
Engine oil filters keep contaminants, ash, soot, and carbon from circulating through the engine. Without an oil filter, these could restrict oil flow or become embedded in bearing surfaces, which is bad news for your engine. Engine oil filters are made with either paper or synthetic filter media to capture particles. The two most common types are spin-on filters and cartridge filters.
- Paper filter elements are commonly used for most driving situations.
- Synthetic filter elements, such as those in NAPA Gold oil filters, capture finer contaminants for better engine protection.
High-capacity or high-mileage oil filters have extra dirt-holding capacity before the bypass valve opens, which provides your engine with long-lasting protection.
Engine air filters keep abrasive particles out of the engine. Some original equipment manufacturer (OEM) filters are made of synthetic fibres, but most are made of corrugated paper, wood fibre, or cellulose. NAPA ProSelect and NAPA Gold air filters are great choices for typical driving conditions, but you may also want to consider the following options.
- Cotton or gauze permanent air filters can be OEM-style or custom. These can be cleaned and oiled repeatedly and last much longer than standard OEM air filters.
- Custom air filters usually require an aftermarket cold air intake system. Custom air filter and intake tubes are manufactured for many vehicles, usually popular performance vehicles. Cone-type filters maximize airflow.
Foam pre-filters are also washable, making them ideal for messy activities like off-roading or logging. These capture dust before it reaches the primary air filter, extending its useful life. The foam pre-filter can be shaken out or washed in just a few minutes, and then reinstalled.
Cabin air filters, sometimes called pollen filters, keep dust and pollen from getting into the cabin, though not as effectively as HEPA filters. Cabin air filters are made of paper or synthetic materials and may contain activated carbon. This NAPA Enviroshield cabin air filter has antimicrobial properties to keep the air in your car even cleaner.
- Paper and synthetic cabin air filters are designed to capture dust and pollen while allowing for high airflow.
- Activated carbon cabin air filters absorb odours, such as from other vehicles, in addition to dust and pollen.
As you can see, there are many car filter options out there. Choose the filters that work best for you and your car and be sure to change them regularly. As filters clog with contaminants, their performance may suffer. If your engine air filter clogs, it may restrict airflow into the engine intake, resulting in poor performance. Similarly, if your cabin air filter clogs, it may limit airflow into the passenger compartment, leading to unpleasant smells or an uncomfortable temperature. Check your owner’s manual for recommended change intervals.