Air filters can be one of the first modifications people make after buying a new car and when an air filter is a service item its usually worth while replacing. You generally get three options when replacing the filter; standard, non-manufacturer standard or aftermarket performance wether that be to fit in to the standard air box or within a whole new intake system.
In this post i will go over each options and provide links of where you can purchase each option and try my best to give details of the positives and negatives of each filter.
How Performance Air Filters Work and Why They Exist
The main funtion of an air filter is, of course, to filter the air entering the engine through the intake. When comparing different brands and designs of filters this property is usually overlooked though as people generally presume they all do an adequate job.
Where the performance filters are usually compared is on how much extra power can be made from the engine by swapping out the standard filter for a more expensive performance orientated one. Popular brands such as K&N, Pipercross and HKS and popular designs come in panel filters, or mushroom and cone filters sometimes with their own intake system as well to accommodate.
The stock air filter in your car is most likely made from a paper based element, this means it is does the job of trapping dirt and particles in the air and is cheap and easy to mass produce. While this sounds all good, they need replaced every so often and have the shortest lifespan of the filters in this comparison. The engine also slightly suffers too, try and breathe through paper and it is very restrictive, this reduces top end power as the engine cant inhale as much air as it could with other options.
Panel Filters / Replacement Element
These are made to fit straight in the same housing as the original part, so fitting is easy and simple, no extra parts needed. They difference is the aftermarket filters are made of less restrictive and usually more expensive materials like oiled foam or cotton. The advantages with these are potentially more high end power and a longer life span, and with proper maintenance they can last longer than you would realisticly expect the car to last. For an example K&N have a million mile warranty on their filters. Price for these is fairly low as its only the element that needs to be bought to use as theres no need for extra pipe work.
As a disadvantage though using these filters the performance increase is minimal compared to some other types and you cant expect to hear much in the way of an induction roar that can be heard with cone or mushroom filters.
These design of filter usualy resemble the shape of a cone, hence the name, or otherwise a mushroom. With the difference in physical design this means extra work or parts may be needed to fit them correctly especially with some cars having MAF sensors in the sandard air box. With this comes the extra cost as some come with the extra “induction kit” to allow the routing for the new system, a side effect of the less resistive path and no air box will be a much louder intake roar giving your car a much sportier sound to it!
All these new parts do allow for more horsepower to be the priority though so better routing can improve more than just resistance to air flow, most notebaly going after colder air as for the same volume you get more mass with lower temperatures due to the air being more dense, this is another way to increase power. Overall this system will usually give you the best power increase at high RPM and full throttle, with most likely a small decrease in power at lower engine speeds due to the lower intake air speed as a result from the lower resistance from the filter element
Products for your Mk2 MR2
K&N Performance Panel Air Filter New Toyota MR2 mk2 1989-2000 SW20 SW21
If the panel filter sounds the right option to suit you then this product is a good place to start looking. K&N are a well known brand and built to fit all revolutions, turbo and N/A mk2 model cars as well as the 2.2 mr2. (Only non compatible engine is the JDm Beams engine)
The RRP is £79.35 so yeah is more expensive than the stock option but are washable and reuseable so with the performance benefits included it will soon pay off.
Click the link to find the best place to purchace, more info and photos!
K&N Induction kit Cold Air Intake Toyota MR2 mk2 3SGE 1989-11/1993
This second option from K&N is a whole induction kit with the actual filter being in the form of a cone filter, naturally all this means an increased cost, the RRP is around £155 but also brings increased benefits including performance and sound!
For more photos, info and the best place to buy click the link!