Stupid post - air filters?

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Oct 14, 2008
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I have lesson to pass on about air filters. And a question to ask - how often for peak performance/efficiency?

I've been maintaining her 100 for a few years now; I don't drive it often. Major mistake I made was not looking at the airbox carefully and realizing it was "inverted" - meaning the German cars I was used to, when you popped the box you looked at the outside/fresh air side. I kept popping the box and going "looks OK." I was so stupid because that's obviously the intake/engine air side.

She was complaining it was doing 13mpg or less locally. Low from our initial experiences. But I had kept up with plugs, oil, tires, pressure, everything was running nicely. Finally I looked at the airbox and realized my mistake.

I changed the air filter this am - looked identical to the Fram unit I replaced it with and I estimate was in there the last 35k to 40k miles. I did a 50/50 mix of interstate and surface roads, some city, and got 19.5 mpg for the 100 mile trip (I drive very gently, unlike her lead foot). I feel so stupid.

Anway, what is a good filter to use and the interval? Or if using a $15 fram, what can I honestly expect out of it? I know it varies with use/conditions, but we live in western WA with fairly low pollution and particulate levels if that helps. About the mildest climate in the continental US.
 
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Do you have any experienced reason you say that? I ask as I have not found OEM Toyota parts all that terribly better than well made parts from good sources. For example, when we replaced the serpentine belt with a Toyota belt at a dealer at the specified interval, and dealer installed it, (and the tension verified by me later - I am an experienced mechanic), it still failed 30k later and left us stranded on a deserted piece of western US highway, with horses in tow and a major hassle on our hands. Thank-you Toyota spec parts and service - left me in an expensive bind. I generally trust Toyota part and service, but I have been let down hard by it and am not going to just leave it at that banal level of explanation.

I also find the OEM coils fail with disturbing regularity. I'm not anti-dealer or OEM part maker; indeed I do trust them more and reject almost anything that isn't Japanese made or German, but I'd like to know why and on what basis.
 
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When I did some research on high performance air filters, e.g., Amsoil EA air filter (wasn't avail. for LC when I was looking though), K&N, AEM Dryflow...I came to the conclusion, after reading opinions, replacing the paper 1/yr. is the best and most cost effective option. I ordered a WIX for my '00 LC. Way to go on the mpg...my city/highway mix is always around 14.5.
 
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The majority of guys on here use OEM parts for just about everything, and the majority of them have been happy with the durability of said parts.

One thing to remember about "performance air filters" is that they do not clean/filter the air as well as the OEM filters. The basic premise is that you can not allow air to pass through the filter at a greater rate without reducing the filtration ability of the filter. It is very rare to find an aftermarket filter that cleans the air as well as an OEM filter. Thats why most guys on here prefer to stick with the OEM filter, maximizing engine life and keeping junk out of the engine is the priority for most people on here.
 
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Unlike their oil filters Fram air filters have a good reputation and do well in comparative testing.

The nice thing about an air filter is it's easy to inspect for defects.

I've been using OEM air filters but doubt there is anything special to them. Toyota OEM is my preference but for commodity items they are probably the same as everybody else.
 
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I use Wix filters (NAPA Gold) and side by side, the Wix has more pleats (more filtering media) than Fram. If you google it, you will find tests done on Fram, M1, K&N, etc. oil and air filters. I won't use Fram or K&N again. Wix or OEM for me.
 

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