What is the Best Air Filter Type for Diesel Engines?

May 10, 2021

There are many misconceptions around your diesel engine’s air filter – especially about how it impacts the amount of power your engine can put out. Many diesel owners are eager to replace the standard paper air filter that your diesel comes with from the factory, and performance air filters are usually their replacement filter of choice.

This is likely because performance air filters promise performance gains like more torque and horsepower. However, this is extremely misleading to the uninformed, and the best air filter type for your diesel engine might just surprise you…

Keep reading to find out more!

What is the Best Air Filter Type for Diesel Engines? - pick up with bike on back

How Does an Air Filter Affect the Engine?

No car engine can work properly without clean fuel, oil, and air. Furthermore, your diesel engine has a filter for each of these important substances – which is why filters are so important in the first place!

Filters are like kidneys – they protect the engine by circulating clean air and keeping nasty materials like bugs, dirt, water, and just about everything else you might drive through, out of your engine. This small part in the air intake prevents harmful contaminants from impeding the performance of your engine.

An air filter is one of the simplest components on a vehicle, but easily one of the most important.

Different Types of Air Filters

There are three main air filter media types:

Cotton or Foam Filters

Cotton and foam filters are popular because they catch dirt and dust well, preventing these harmful particulates from reaching your engine. They perform this function better than standard air filters, or even performance air filters because they are coated in oil – thus, better at catching dust.

Performance Air Filters

Performance air filters promise to enhance the performance of your vehicle. This is not necessarily true. Research done on dynamometers, on a range of vehicles around the world, show that the horsepower differences between various types of air filters aren’t that significant when upgrading this component alone.

Technically, they offer adequate airflow to the engine and provide sufficient protection against dirt and grime getting through.

Standard Paper Air Filters

Don’t let the ‘paper’ fool you – these sturdy air filters are made from industrial-strength paper, shaped like an accordion to achieve greater coverage, and are the standard air filter media type for a reason!

Although paper air filters can’t be cleaned and re-used liked cotton, foam, and performance air filters, they do a good job at protecting your engine from harmful materials and provide ample airflow to stock diesel engines, unchanged from the factory.

What is the Best Air Filter Type for Diesel Engines? - car driving through field

Which is the Best Air Filter Media Type for Your Diesel Engine?

The answer to this question is – it depends.

If you have a stock-standard diesel, the engine of which has not been mechanically enhanced, the paper air filter you bought it with will do a decent enough job – provided you replace it at the proper service intervals.

However, if you want to significantly increase the performance of your diesel, upgrading your air filter may only be necessary if you are also upgrading other parts, such as the turbo or exhaust system. When it comes to protecting your engine, sometimes, retaining factory-fitted elements can help maintain its reliability and longevity.

Work with the Experts

Need advice for your diesel engine? Just Autos is a team of diesel performance enhancement specialists, and we know diesel engines – backward! We can provide helpful information on what is best for your engine, as well as what you can do to improve its performance. Get in touch today!


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