10 vs. 14 inch car Air cleaner: Which size is perfect for your engine?

To keep the incoming air in the engine of your vehicle, the air cleaner plays a vital role. However, the thing you need to worry about is choosing the right size that fits the carburetor properly.

10 inches and 14 inches are the two most common sizes to get the job done of air filtration swiftly. And that's when a newbie gets confused, which one to go for, and which one to leave behind.

We're here to get through everything about the 10 inches and 14 inches air cleaners and try to solve the confusion. So, you better be here till the end.  

10 vs. 14 inch Air cleaner

What is a 10-inch air cleaner?

10 inches air cleaner refers to the size of it, which is measured by the diameter. Although most car enthusiasts would recommend you not go for the 10 inches one, you should once ask them why?

Basically, the answer you will be getting is that a bigger one is always better as it provides more air filtration area in the engine. But what if the bigger one has a drop base or lowered area?

That really sucks the filtration system for sure. A 10 inches air cleaner with a flat base is supposed to be the perfect combo to keep the carburetor and the engine clean.

However, you can't choose this when it doesn't meet the specs of the car. For example, the carb size and the amount of horsepower the engine produces are two crucial factors here.

What is a 14-inch air cleaner?

Most of you guys asked, is 14 inches air cleaner a better choice over the 10 inches one? Well, for filtering and breathing, the 14 inches one is undoubtedly a good deal as it creates a larger air-flowing area.

As you know, the 14 inches of air cleaner refers only to the diameter of the cleaner. However, here's what you can get from it.

  • Bigger diameter for filtering and breathing.
  • 14 inches one provides more airflow.
  • A larger air-flowing area.
  • Better airflow means improved engine performance.

Meanwhile, it won't be a wise decision to go for the cleaner just based on the diameter. Of course, a crucial part of air filtration is size. But the height does matter as well.

If you have a drop base with a larger area or a wide cleaner area, it won’t be helpful for sure. Moreover, the carburetor size matters a lot when it comes to the right cleaner size.

Also, forgetting about the horsepower the engine produces can result in a poor selection of the cleaner size. So, bigger is always better but when you choose it in the right way.

Comparison between 10 and 14-inch air cleaners

However, you must know that being big doesn’t mean only the wider size; rather it means the height as well. Look at the comparison chart below that tells you about the differences between 10 and 14 inches air cleaners.

10-inch

14-inch

Less surface area for pulling air

More surface area to pull the air through

Comparatively less air filtering

Better air filtering

Breathing is average

A better breathing experience

Small optical surface area

Large optical surface area

Comparatively less expensive

Comparatively expensive

Good with a flat base

Drops performance with lowered base

It seems still a bit confusing for you guys to decide, whether to go for 10 or 14 inches one. Don’t worry because the next segment tells you the long story in short by giving you the answer.

However, let’s first go through the above points.

Surface area: As the thumb rule says that the bigger or wider cleaner, the better air filtration. The logic behind this is the wider or extended surface area that 14 inches one provides in the engine.

It becomes quite easy to get the air through the cleaner when the surface is broader. However, the same process becomes a bit slow in the 10 inches one.

Air filtering: Surface area is directly related to air filtering. As you have all known that the more surface the cleaner offers, the easier it becomes to pull the air through.

This also allows the filtration system to filter and clean the unclean air. Moreover, the process is quite quicker and smoother.

Breathing: The quicker, the system cleans the air, the easier it becomes for you to inhale purified air inside. Therefore, breathing experience is better when it’s a bigger or wider air cleaner like 14 inches.

Cost: Here comes the first aspect of the 10 inches cleaner that gets a win over the 14 inches one. The smaller one is the less expensive, although the price doesn't differ much.

Still, there’s a good chance for the users to save a certain amount of money by going for the smaller one. But it’s necessary to keep in mind that cross-cutting the price isn’t the main motif here.

Type of base: According to the experts of our research sessions, it has been proved that a higher base impacts the air filtration not less than the size.

And in that case, a 10 inches cleaner with a flat or high base can easily outcome 14 inches on with a drop or lowered base. This also tells you that, deciding the suitable cleaner depending on the surface is a poor decision.

Which size is perfect for your engine: 10 or 14 inch?

Now the most crucial question is which one of these cleaners you should go for your engine? It's not that you can take up the largest size and go for it without thinking that much.

The larger it is the better filtration you will have for sure, but don’t forget to compare with the engine type and the horsepower as well.

Some other things are here, which you should consider before deciding which one of these two cleaners is perfect.

Carburetor shape and size: To increase the airflow through the carburetor, you need to select the air cleaner size depending on the shape and size.

Most of us seem careless about it, but it's one of the crucial facts that can impact the performance of the cleaner. Only choosing 14 for a larger surface, or 10 inches one to crosscut the price won't be a wise decision.

Type of engine: The selection of the cleaner depends largely on the type of engine you have. And it’s related to the carburetor type as well.

Horsepower produced: The larger or wider area you have, the better HP or horsepower, you are supposed to get. That is to say, horsepower seems an X factor here as well.

Base: The height from the base of the cleaner is equally important as the diameter. However, experts have two different thoughts about it.

Some say that a wider cleaner with a short base is better than a taller base with a less wide cleaner.

We have different thoughts as well, where the taller one even with 10 inches cleaner seems to do a good job than a shorter base with 14 inches cleaner.

Therefore, you should compare the engine and carburetor of your vehicle and then decide, which diameter and base you should g for.

Does the size of the air cleaner matter

Air cleaners purify the air that enters the engine and keeps the engine's performance up. But the question is, does the size really matters when it comes to the selection of the cleaner?

I think the above discussion about the 10 inches and 14 inches cleaner has already provided you with the answer. But the simplest answer to the question is that the size of the cleaner has a direct impact on the engine.

The most common and useful sizes to purify the incoming air inside the engine are 10 inches and 14 inches. Except for these two sizes, you can also get –

  • 6 to 6 ½ inches
  • 9 inches
  • 12 inches

6 inches (approximately) ones and 9 inches ones are suitable diameters for round-shape cleaners. However, if you move on to an oval-shaped one, you can also get 12 inches.

However, whichever size or type you go for doesn't matter, what really matters is getting one that is compatible with the engine and carburetor of your vehicle.  

Construction of the 10 and 14-inch air cleaners

Typically, both 10 inches and 14 inches air cleaners have either chrome-plated steel or alloy steel construction. Both these constructions ensure durability and long-lasting performance for air filtering.

However, we'd love to provide you with a clearer idea about the construction of these two different sizes of cleaners by the following products.

Speedway Motors Chrome Air cleaner

It comes with chrome-plated steel construction. The cleaner is 10 inches in diameter and has 2 inches tall filter element.

Also, it has 3.25 inches assembled height. It fits 4 barrel carburetors with a 5 1/8 inches neck. It also features a replaceable paper filter element.

United Pacific Chrome 10-inch Air cleaner

It comes with heavy-duty, die-cast alloy steel construction. It is 10 inches in diameter for your 4-barrel carburetors setup.

It is included with the assembly along with the PVC breather hose. And this is made for the entire air cleaner assembly as well.

A-Team Performance High Flow Replacement Air cleaner

The air cleaner comes with chrome top construction and chrome base construction. You will get a washable and reusable round air filter element kit in the package with a star wing nut.

It is 14 inches in diameter and 3 inches taller filter element. It fits carburetors with 5 1/8 inches neck flange and throttle body injection assemblies.

Edelbrock 1221 Signature Series Air cleaner

This vehicle-specific fit air cleaner comes with chrome-plated 18-gauge steel construction for durability. It is 14 inches in diameter and has 3 inches filter element. However, the overall height here is 3.75 inches.

It has 3/8 inches deep flange for use on the carburetors. It comes with an adapter for crankcase ventilation.

Pros of 10 inches air cleaners

Why would you choose 10 inches air cleaners over a 14 inches one? Of course, there have to be some reasons for it, and we're here to show the pros of these cleaners.

  • They are easy to install.
  • Creates perfect combo with the tall filter element.
  • Chrome-plated steel construction.
  • Heavy-duty for both trucks and classic cars.
  • Fits perfectly with most vehicles’ engines.
  • Available at a lower cost.

Cons of 10 inches air cleaners

10 inches cleaners are of course not out of the cons and you need to know before going for one.

  • Have less surface area for incoming air.
  • The average level of air filtering and breathing.
  • Small optical surface area.
  • Disastrous with lower or dropped base.

Pros of 14 inches air cleaners 

14 inches ones are quite better in many fields compared to the 10 inches ones. Let’s know some of the pros.

  • A larger surface area for better filtration.
  • Breathing experience is top class.
  • Works well even with a drop base.
  • Superb performance with a flat base.
  • Broader optical surface area.
  • Chrome plated, heavy-duty steel construction.

Cons of 14 inches air cleaners

Here are the negative sides of these cleaners that you need to know before buying.

  • They are the expensive ones.
  • Performance reduces with drop-based filter elements.

Final verdict: Which one you should get

After all the above discussion, it's not fair if you ask someone again which one should you go for, 10 inches or 14 inches. It's fair enough to go for one with the smaller diameter if your vehicle's engine and carburetor demand so.

Again, you can have a better filtering and breathing experience when it comes to a wider diameter with a taller filter element as well.

Source: Effect of Intake Air Filter Condition onVehicle Fuel Economy .pdf

Last Updated on June 17, 2022 by sajjad

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