Friday, April 1, 2011

Clogged Air Filters Impact Performance

Best Air Filters Review: Air Filter Facts
Air Filter Facts Part 6: Do clogged air filters impact performance?

In our last few posts, we proved conclusively, with some surprise, that air flow and air filters do not impact mileage. The next step, for us, is to similarly investigate air flow through air filters and vehicle performance, that is, acceleration, horsepower, or torque.

If the restriction to air flow caused by air filters is going to impact performance, it stands to reason that we would see the worst impact in severely clogged air filters. How do these impact performance?

Highly restricted air filters

Oak Ridge National Laboratory tested several vehicles with highly restricted (clogged) air filters. In fact, one of the filters was so clogged that it got sucked into the intake... Their experiments make it clear that there is severe impact to performance when the filter is clogged:


All three vehicles tested experience significant performance degradation in the presence of a clogged air intake, varying between 6% and 11% in terms of time needed to accelerate from 20 MPH to 80 MPH using a wide open throttle.

There are many supporting anecdotal reports discussing loss of performance with dirty air filters. As an example, columnist Jim Allen reported, on BITOG, some dyno tests on a diesel truck showing loss of performance with a dirty air filter.


Conclusion
  • Clogged air filters negatively impact performance in a measurable way

 It is clear that highly restricted air flow, such as one sees in a clogged air filter, does impact performance. What about the much smaller air flow difference that is seen between two clean air filters - is there impact to performance?

Next we review how different clean air filters impact performance... So come back soon!

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