Some people blame diesel engines for the rising CO2 emissions in the transportation sector. A few others believe that these units cannot achieve best-in-class fuel economy. Both assert that it is the relatively low combustion efficiency of these engines that makes them perform worse on both counts.
The Duramax Diesel aims to change that perception. Here is an engine that combines high combustion efficiency with an excellent fuel economy. It supplements both these features with outstanding driving performance, superior refinement, and a favorable torque curve.
Having said that, this model doesn’t offer anything which can’t be improved with a high-end aftermarket air filter, whether you go for the OEM option or choose a cold air intake kit. Both will not only enhance the airflow to the engine but will also provide it with cleaner air to improve its performance.
Best Air Filter for Duramax Diesel
Banks 42230 Cold Air Intake System
The Banks 42230 cold air intake system boasts many outstanding features. Start with its ability to prevent component damage. It has an exclusive 5-inch bellows that keeps the environmental irritants from coming into direct contact with its parts. This allows the components to keep working for long periods.
Then comes the ability of this intake system to enhance the engine’s combustion efficiency. It achieves that objective with a large filter that maximizes the flow of air to the engine, thereby allowing it to run cooler and burn fuel more efficiently.
Complementing all the features mentioned above is an easy-to-clean oiled filter. You won’t have to dump it once it is inundated with dirt particles. Simply taking the filter out and rinsing it with soapy water would prepare it for thousands of miles of seamless service.
This is all the more important because the filter impacts other functions of the engine. Its ability to ensure a dirt-less flow of air positively impacts the engine’s fuel economy. You can also count on the filter to help the engine in producing more power and torque.
- Simple to clean
- Hardware included in the package
- High flow of dirt-free air
- Only for the newer models of Duramax
Airaid 201-229 SynthaMax Dry Filter Intake System
Here is another cold air intake system that ensures the flow of dirt-free air to the engine. It has an extra-long pipe that lets the engine receive cold air from outside the hood. The tube is made of high-density polyethylene and is designed using computer modeling to maximize airflow.
Also inside the tube is fresh air ducting that allows the intake of cold air from outside. The long pipe is provided with provisions for the filter minder gauge and factory mass air sensor. All of this is to say that the system is highly sophisticated despite its straightforward-looking design.
It must be noted that all these sophistications have had no impact whatsoever on this unit’s installation mechanism. You could simply bolt it on and start your engine. All you’d need for its mounting will be simple hand tools that are included in every vehicle’s toolkit.
Lastly, while most dry filters you see on the market aren’t washable, this one is different. You can remove all the embedded dirt particles with soapy water. There is no need to bang this unit against the wall to force its paper pleats into shaking off the dirt particles.
- Increases fuel economy
- Comes with a lifetime warranty
- Has washable and reusable filter media
ACDelco A3087C Professional Air Filter
Everything about this OEM air filter oozes durability. AC Delco has equipped it with a sturdy filter media that resists corrosion as it lets clean air through to the engine. The coating on the filter’s inner surface prevents dirt particles from rubbing against it and causing rust.
The tight seals of this model do their job with poise. They are responsible for keeping the combustion chamber sealed against the ingress of dirt and debris. That’s an extremely crucial job as the combustion efficiency of your vehicle has a direct impact on the performance of its engine.
Yet another notable feature of this product is its ease of installation. It is a gold-label product that is specially engineered to meet OE expectations. That is to say that installing this model in place of your stock filter would be a snap.
One area where this model could have done a bit better is with its warranty period. You only get a 24-month/unlimited miles warranty for the same period. That is definitely on the lower side when you consider that there are models in this review that offer a lifetime warranty.
- Sturdy filter media
- Keeps combustion chamber sealed against dirt particles
- Engineered to meet OE expectations
- Only a 2-year warranty
K&N Engine Air Filter
It goes without saying that we were disappointed by the warranty the AC Delco air filter offers. This model from K&N is, thankfully, different. It comes with a huge 10year/million-mile limited warranty which is enough to protect this air filter for the life of your engine.
The filtration media of this air filter is the marvel of engineering. K&N has employed between four to six layers of pleated and oiled cotton-gauze to help the media remove dirt particles from the incoming air, with the result that your engine ends up getting 50% more air than it does from the stock filter.
How this filter goes on for 50,000 miles without requiring any maintenance is its unique selling point. You won’t have to vacuum the filter or rinse the dirt particles away with water. Its built-in cleaning mechanism – which sheds off the dirt by taking advantage of gravity, would keep the filter going.
To further sweeten the deal, K&N made this filter washable and reusable. This helps minimize replacement waste and allows the filter to function as desired for longer. It also keeps this filter going for the same time period as that of 10 disposable filters combined.
- Low-maintenance design
- Washable and reusable
- 10yrs/million miles warranty
- Relatively pricey for an OEM filter
Airaid 200-266 Intake System
Our personal experience with Airaid intake systems reveals that most of them have three qualities that set them apart from the competition. Almost all of them come with a lifetime warranty, have a filter that is washable and reusable, and are extremely easy to install. This intake system isn’t any different.
Start with a glance at its warranty period. It throws a gauntlet to every other product in this review by offering a hassle-free lifetime warranty. You read it right. This filter is warrantied for as long as you want to use it. There is no fine print in its purchase agreement that states otherwise.
The washability of this intake system is also a boon to its performance. Most air filters’ performance goes south with the build-up of dirt particles over time. Similar is the case with this model. What sets it apart from other filters, however, is that you can get back its original performance by washing it.
Its design includes a one-piece roto-molded air box. It is responsible for directing air through a chamber made of high-density, cross-linked polyethylene. The chamber eliminates the need for re-calibration by directing the air to the combustion chamber while maintaining a proper fuel-to-air ratio.
- Lifetime warranty
- Increases performance and mileage
- Eliminates the need for re-calibration
Volant 150666 PowerCore Cool Air Intake
The Volant PowerCore cool air intake is for those of you who are looking for a performance upgrade. This kit won’t only keep the dirt particles at bay but will also bolster your engine’s torque, horsepower and MPG. Here’s how it proposes to do that.
The 150666 boosts molded polyethylene tubing that resists rusts and corrosion and has specially designed ducts that provide a clear passage to cool air. This model also gives you two filter options, including Pro 5 Filters and Donaldson® PowerCore® Filtration Technology.
The PowerCore® filters get our nod as they don’t require maintenance for the first 150,000 miles and boost efficiency of up to 99.97%. The Pro5 filters, meanwhile, use layers of oiled cotton gauze as their filtration media and provide a maintenance-free driving for up to 15,000 miles.
Volant delivers this unit in an easy-to-open box lid that provides quick access to the filter. Also on offer are stainless steel marine-grade clamps and the whole kit won’t take more than an hour for installation. What more can you ask for!
- Quicker throttle response
- Custom designed for your engine
- Easy to install
ACDelco A1618C Professional Air Filter
People who drive Duramax Diesel are very peculiar about the air filters. That isn’t a bad thing. One wrong filter could disturb the engine’s performance while also bringing down the vehicle’s mileage. You therefore have to be very careful when choosing the right model.
That is precisely what this air filter from ACDelco aspires to be. It meets OEM specifications of Duramax Diesel engines to assure you that it won’t have any adverse impact on its performance. The extended filter capacity of this model, when combined with its efficiency, allows it to provide superior performance.
Yet another feature of this model that impressed us were its tight seals. They are fit snugly to the filtration media and make it impossible for unfiltered air to go past them and into the combustion chamber. You can, therefore, trust these seals to protect the engine’s combustion efficiency.
Experts tell us that having optimum combustion efficiency is crucial. As one can draw a straight line between it and your vehicle’s mileage. All of this is to say that this air filter exceeds your expectations by doing things you don’t usually expect from an air filter.
- Meets OEM specifications
- Ensures high airflow to the engine
- Extremely easy to install
- Isn’t washable
S&B Filters 75-5075-1 Cold Air Intake
The S&B Filters 75-5075-1 Cold Air Intake provides the best of both worlds. On the one end, it draws cold air from outside that goes straight through its filter and into the engine. This air helps the fuel burn more efficiently and also has a positive impact on the car’s MPG.
On the other it has a premium silicone body that is rated to be 99.95% efficient when it comes to keeping dirt particles at bay. It also provides 29/10% more airflow to the engine and withstands rust and corrosion to last longer. That isn’t where the good news end.
S&B devoted hundreds of man-hours towards the construction of this air filter. That is indeed the reason why it offers a direct fit to your Duramax Diesel engine. You won’t have to recalibrate your stock or do any tuning for its fitment.
What is more, this cold air intake kit is equipped with a custom enclosure to keep unwanted engine heat from raising the temperature of air passing through its pipes. It also has a mass airflow sensor that helps keep the ‘check engine’ light off. Also there is a secondary outlet to eliminate any airflow restrictions.
- Premium silicone construction
- Custom enclosure keeps unwanted engine heat out
- Ensures less restrictive airflow
ACDelco A3141C Professional Air Filter
Here is another budget-friendly air filter that won’t weigh heavily on your pocket. It has an OEM design that allows it to fit seamlessly in place of your stock filter. The enhanced filter capacity of this model, meanwhile, allows it to remain in use for an extended period.
ACDelco has equipped this air filter with tight seals that prevent dirt particles from entering the combustion chamber. The paper pleats that constitute the filter media of this unit supply the cleanest air possible while posing the least restriction to the air going towards the engine.
There is one area where this filter disappointed us. It does cost low upfront but might do so more in the long term once you consider that it isn’t washable. That means you’d have no choice but to throw away the filter once it has exceeded its shelf life.
- Tight seals keep unfiltered air out
- Enhances engine performance
- Won’t pose any restrictions to airflow
- Not washable
- Have to drill to use the plastic hole
Best Air Filter for Duramax Diesel – Buying Guide
Style of filter
There are two styles of air filters on the market. The first are those that meet the specifications of your engine’s manufacturer. They are termed as ‘OEM’ filters and fit like hand in a glove underneath your hood. The second type are ‘cold air’ intake kits. Here’s how both these filters compare.
Also referred to as ‘stock’ filters by mechanics, the OEM filters have exactly the same dimensions as those filters that came pre-installed in your vehicle. They are, therefore, a cinch to install. Another benefit that these filters provide is an extremely low asking price. You won’t have to rob a bank to afford them.
The operating mechanism of these air filters is pretty straightforward. Once you’ve attached them to your engine, they will rely on the engine’s fan to draw in dirty air. After that their paper pleats (filtration media) will separate dirt particles from the incoming air before sending clean air through.
That isn’t to say that these models don’t have any shortcomings. In fact they suffer from the same problems as your vehicle’s built-in air filter. You can’t count on them to have a measurable positive impact on your engine’s uphill performance, acceleration and mileage. Their benefits are limited.
Cold Air Intake Filters
As their name implies, these filters draw in cold air from the surroundings. That they manage to do via the long pipe that is attached to the section that houses the filter. Their ability to provide your engine with a cooler (and dense) air offers many benefits. Start with combustion efficiency.
Science tells us that cold air contains more oxygen particles than hot air. And since it is the oxygen particles that have a direct impact on your engine’s combustion efficiency (as fuel can’t burn without O2), their increased presence will allow your vehicle’s fuel to burn much more efficiently.
Their operating mechanism also positively impacts the engine’s uphill performance and acceleration. Some cold air intake filters go as far as to increase your vehicle’s fuel mileage. The only thing that might deter you from purchasing them, apart from their high price tag, is their relatively tricky installation.
Type of filter
You can get your hands on one of two types of air filters. The first are those that are ‘dry’. They use a cotton gauze or paper pleats to remove dirt particles from the incoming air. The second type are ‘oiled’ air filters that use the sticky substance to keep the debris from entering the engine.
Most of you will already be aware of the operating mechanism of these filters. They have a synthetic or cotton gauze that separates dust particles from the incoming air. The size of the holes in their built-in screen is such that it allows the air to pass through while keeping debris outside.
It is this operating mechanism of these filters that comes across as a double-edged sword. On the one end it makes them fairly straightforward to produce and inexpensive to sell. On the other it decreases their shelf life and forces you to clean the filter more often.
Oiled filters rely on the principle of adsorption to capture dirt particles. They trap the pollutants on their sticky surface while allowing the air to go through. These units last longer than their dry peers and have a shelf-life of as much as 15,000 miles. Some of them last as long as 1million miles.
The ease with which you can clean them is equally impressive. All you have to do to rid them of pollutants is to take the filter out, rinse it with water, apply soap on their surface, wash away the mixture and then re-install the filter.
Regardless of the air filter you may end up choosing, here are some of the features you shouldn’t ignore:
- Long replacement time: One of the most distinguishing qualities of best air filters that separates them from the riffraff is their ultra-long replacement times. They last as long as up to 15,000 miles to give you the best bang for the buck.
- Washable and reusable: The cheap air filters that you see on the market might succeed in tempting you with their relatively low upfront price. But since they aren’t washable and reusable, these models will require you to replace them more often.
- Large warranty period: Here is one of the common features that almost all air filters listed in this review provide. Almost all come with a sizable multi-year warranty, with some going as far as claiming to last 1 million miles or 10 years.
One thing is clear from everything we have said above: choosing the best air filter for Duramax Diesel isn’t easy. You have to keep multiple factors in mind, including the type of filter, their style, filtration efficiency, washability and reusability, and more. That is where this article comes into play.
We have carefully curated this list to choose the best air filters in every price range. Those of you who have deep pockets can splash the cash on the priciest models. Others with a limited budget can get their hands on an affordably priced model. This article has something for everyone.