High flow panel air filters

"Our guide to performance panel filters for your car"

The first mod that people do to their car is usually an upgrade of the air filter. There are many options around and the idea is to allow air to flow more freely into the engine.

If you are interested in induction kits and cone air filters click here as we are going to focus on the panel air filter in this article.

You don't want particles from the air, dust and fibres and insects going into the engine, where it will potentially cause soot, abrasion and carbon build up so you need an air filter.

A cars airbox is designed to cut out the intake noise, and isolate the cars air intake flow from the warm engine bay air.

Bear in mind that if you put a one meter square air filter on your engine, it would flow better but there is no way you would see a performance gain.

A performance panel filter is a drop in replacement and offers better air flow and good filtration.

On some tuned engines and some basic factory models the air filter can be restrictive.

Sometimes a manufacturer use one filter housing across the range, where it flows well on small engines but larger engines can start to struggle.

Manufacturer air filters are made from paper folded to increase the surface area, and this is quite an effective filter.

However you can increase the ease with which air flows through the filter if you switch to another material and we have found cotton gauze to flow really well and still retain good filtration.

On a turbo petrol engine I fitted a panel air filter and the engine held it's revs for longer, didn't bog down on throttle lift off as much and I got slightly better fuel economy.

I fitted one to my turbo diesel engine and failed to notice any difference at all in daily driving, but if I had remapped it I am reliably informed that the standard filter would have struggled so I guess I future proofed it for my next upgrade.

You can easily determine if your engine is restricted by removing the panel filter and going for a drive. I like to stretch a piece of fabric over the housing to prevent large particles getting sucked in but you won't be doing this for long anyway so you don't have to be as paranoid as me.

If you get more top end power or lose a flat spot then you should think about an air filter upgrade.

A performance panel air filter will never ruin your air flow or intake temps like poorly specified or fitted induction kits might. Even if you don't get a power hike, you'll benefit from the washable and reusable nature of the performance panel air filters and will generally save over the life of the car.

Should air filters be sprayed with oil? This can help dirt to stick and improve the filtration but too much oil will affect the air flow sensor and you'll need to clean the filter more often to keep it working effectively.

I spray a very light mist of oil after each clean but I know many drivers who refuse to do even that.

So in summary the performance panel air filters are very easy to fit, relatively cheap and offer savings over the life of the car and will address most air intake restrictions on upgraded engines or cars with restrictive air boxes.


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