Evaluating Drop-In Air Filters for Late Model HEMIs

The (Un)dirty Dozen

A retired 2006 police Charger 5.7L HEMI was in service for the drop-in air filter element testing. The 5.7L made 42 runs to establish the “best” filter based upon the chassis dyno results. The 42 runs consisted of the three baseline runs with a Mopar filter, then an additional three runs per filter (11 filters), a re-run of the baseline to verify the results, and lastly a “baker’s dozen” of three non-filtered runs.

The importance of a quality air filter element should be unquestioned when it comes to protecting one’s pride and joy’s engine, but with the plethora of aftermarket filters on the market, how can an educated selection be made? Simply selecting the manufacturer’s recommended filter may fit the bill for many. However, the higher cost of an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) filter (compared to many of the aftermarket filters), the inconvenience of visiting the dealership during the parts department’s operating hours, and the feeling of intimidation of the visiting a dealership may push one into looking at a filter sold at one of the many local auto parts stores. One could bypass the inconvenience of the dealership operating hours and the intimidation by ordering the filter online, but the use of a computer may cause even greater personal discomfort for some. The auto parts stores may provide an opportunity to purchase lower priced filters (or higher priced performance filters) and may offer convenient business hours, but standing in front of rows of shelves with hundreds of air filters, the feeling of intimidation similar to visiting the dealership may arise. How can it be determined which of the 10-20 filters that are a direct fit for the engine and vehicle will be the one that provides the best results? What are the expectations of the purchaser? Is there an interest in performance, filtration media type, country of origin, or cost? To “filter out” these questions, twelve drop-in air filter elements were selected for an evaluation series of tests. The filters ranged from the economy paper media filters to the performance oriented non-woven synthetic cotton media filters.